A red-brown blouson, that was probably the most noticeable one that Julian Nagelsmann wore on a matchday at Bayern. In the Supercup, Munich beat Dortmund, afterwards there were the first pictures of the new coach with a trophy. He himself spoke of the sight, albeit not in relation to his clothes. “I have such small hamster teeth and want to become a title hamster,” he said.
Nagelsmann’s outfits have long been a popular tabloid topic. He auctioned the red coat, which he once wore when visiting a Bayern match as TSG Hoffenheim’s coach, for 1,560 euros. Some of the jackets that he presented at RB Leipzig were at least boldly checked. When he started at Bayern that summer, the wrote image: “Nagelsmann starts in the ace of hearts shirt”. After a Lederhosen photo shoot, the Upper Bavarian found that traditional costumes looked good on him. But that was it for the time being.
In the coming days he will be in the limelight for the first time as a Bayern coach. This Saturday is the meeting with RB Leipzig, with him the new Munich Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Sabitzer meet their ex-club. The first Champions League matchday at FC Barcelona follows three days later. And it would be a bit of a surprise if the trainer decided to take one of the particularly daring suits out of his closet for the occasion. In any case, it would rather not go with his start in Munich.
Julian Nagelsmann is only 34, but he has been the greatest coaching talent in German football for more than half a decade. Basically, since his Bundesliga debut in 2016, it has been about when he will be the next Bayern coach. He has now been there for around two months, as the most expensive coach in Bundesliga history, at his declared favorite club. After three wins from four competitive games, it is still too early for an interim conclusion. But it already indicates that he wants to appear a little different than before.
Nagelsmann assured him that he would not change the basic order seven times in the game
In his introductory press conference, he emphasized “not to jam along the line for 90 minutes like Rumpelstiltskin”, even if of course he could not change completely. And he said: “It will not be the case that I change the basic order seven times in the game like at the beginning of my career.”
His predecessor Hansi Flick took over an insecure team in autumn 2019, when one of his first official acts was to establish an axis of regular players, which may one day be exhibited in wax in the German Football Museum. What will be considered Nagelsmann’s work at FC Bayern is still unknown. But it won’t be anything that he changed immediately when he took office. In Leipzig he had initiated a change of style very quickly, more possession of the ball instead of pure counter-teaching. Since arriving in Munich, he has often emphasized that he was taking on a functioning team that had won all titles before him. He will “not turn everything upside down”.
Nagelsmann’s influence has so far been more evident in nuances. Sometimes he changes the basic order, of course. And his training was always seen as challenging and creative, which is also the case in Munich. Joshua Kimmich just explained in the club magazine that he had not understood a position game in a public unit when he was heard scolding. “I didn’t fully understand the point of this exercise. So I asked the coach about it too.” Nagelsmann had “explained everything to him, then there was nothing more to complain about”.
Kimmich’s positioning in the field is an example of a change. He and Leon Goretzka do not form a classic double six, but rather play staggered, Goretzka usually more offensively, in order to position themselves further ahead if they have possession of the ball and go into counter-pressing if they lose the ball. Nagelsmann reported on the video study in the hotel. The appointment calendar has not yet offered any time for intensive training work.
Another example of Nagelsmann’s detailed work is how he dealt with Leroy Sané, who was in focus again after a poor performance against 1. FC Köln because some fans whistled him out. The coach defended him, spoke to him, and above all put him in a different position afterwards, on the left instead of the right wing. “He has a bit more depth and has the game ahead of him,” said Nagelsmann. “He feels more comfortable there.” On the left, Sané was also convincing in the national team.
In the past season it was sometimes said that the exchange between professionals and the youth department could be better. Under Nagelsmann, it is said, the agreements are going very well so far. In defender Josip Stanisic, 21, a young player has established himself among the professionals in the bumpy preparation for the season – something that CEO Oliver Kahn has expressly formulated as a goal. Honorary President Uli Hoeneß recently spoke to RTL accordingly. Nagelsmann is “the trainer who is exactly the right person for the current time”. FC Bayern need “a man like him who still has goals, who has not yet won a lot, who creates a spirit of optimism and, above all, who can work with young people.”
“We needed a player for the coach’s system,” said Salihamidzic of the Sabitzer transfer
The most important test that Nagelsmann passed was probably to humbly come through a complicated transfer period. He has repeatedly emphasized that the club has its hat on when it comes to squad planning, despite the small squad. It seemed like a conscious contrast to the argument between Flick and sports director Hasan Salihamidzic during the preseason.
In the end, the coach got his dream player, Sabitzer. When the Austrian was officially presented on Thursday, Salihamidzic emphasized that the transfer was also about the good relationship between the coach and his former captain in Leipzig. Salihamidzic said: “We needed a player for the system from the coach.”
If and when Nagelsmann will change the system in Munich permanently? How often will you see the basic order with a chain of three that he preferred in Leipzig? Will Sabitzer mess up the regular midfield or remain an addition? How the coach manned the defense, the only part of the team that was completely overhauled in the summer, now that the injured French Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernández are returning? Will the defense then be more stable than last year, which Nagelsmann has set out to do? Those are a few questions for the coming weeks and months.
Now it’s about two games in the spotlight. As for the first, Nagelsmann sounded pretty brisk in the press conference on Friday. He resisted being called a “baron of lies” because he had announced that he did not want to take anyone from Leipzig with him to Munich, and now there were three assistant coaches and, in addition to Upamecano, Sabitzer came. “In the situation” that was the truth. And to the possible whistles of the expected 34,000 spectators whether his return, he said: “I’m not shaking now.” That would certainly not affect his “performance”.