Julian Nagelsmann: “You have to be a human catcher”

Mr Nagelsmann, what is the most important quality a coach must have in modern football?

You have to be a human catcher. Players today are more interested in marketing themselves. As a coach, you have to manage that it is not the interests of the players but the interests of the team that are in the foreground. But it’s not just about the way you are. It is not enough to be the good mood uncle, especially for players who come from the youth training centers. You have to convince them of the content.

I want to talk to you about the role of the coach. Let’s start with the area of ​​competence that has been discussed more and more since you were promoted to the Bundesliga: the technical and tactical. When you became the coach of TSG Hoffenheim at the age of 28, who was second to last in the table at the time, you did something brave.

In the first game against Werder Bremen, I switched to a back three.

It’s correct. And you deleted Pirmin Schwegler, the team’s captain, from the first team. Why?

That had sporting reasons. Pirmin is an outstanding person with whom I still have a close relationship today. At that time, in his position in midfield, I wanted a very dynamic player. Such decisions are tough. And if it’s the captain, it also has a media effect. We had to play with a lot of power to score goals. He wasn’t the right player for that.

You prevented relegation back then – and even convinced Pirmin Schwegler. He has not left the club although it was clear that there would be no more room for him in the first team. He later said of you: “I deliberately stayed another year because I wanted to experience it, because I realized that I had to take that with me as a player. I got to know completely new elements. ”What did you do differently?

When a coach takes over a team threatened with relegation, you often hear and read: We have to be more stable defensively and play to zero. I did it differently. I said: in the end, you only win games if you score more goals than your opponent – and not if you don’t get any. The players swallowed a little too. It was a relegation battle. But then they discovered that the way I position players on the offensive means that I automatically have good counter-pressing, good counter-protection. If you are brave in owning possession, you are far from your own goal. It was certainly a little different from what the players did before.

However, there was later criticism of your tactics in Hoffenheim. Her striker Andrej Kramarić said: “We change systems too often during the game. We’re not ready for it. ”How did you take that?

It is always important to listen to the opinions of the players and to accept them. Andrej had the feeling that we had changed the system too quickly within a game, that there was not enough time to adapt. You have to explain to the player why you are doing this. We wanted to trigger something with the opponent. And if that didn’t work, we switched again. We didn’t win as many games back then as we did at the beginning. Everyone was a little more frustrated. It was important to me to discuss with Andrej personally that this should not be expressed publicly. In the end it was like this: listen to your opinion, discuss it – and learn the lessons from it.

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