Julian Nagelsmann's first few weeks at FC Bayern
The corridor between the coach's office, the dressing-room and the pitch of the Allianz Arena is adorned with life-size images of FC Bayern players in action. Julian Nagelsmann walks briskly past the giant photographs: Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Robert Lewandowski, Leon Goretzka, an impressive line-up of stars. He's on his way to his first press conference as the new FC Bayern head coach. The last image at the end of the corridor shows not a player, but the object Bayern covet every season: the Meisterschale.
A few days later, Nagelsmann moves his chair under the sunshade before the conversation starts on the edge of the training ground at Säbener Straße. How does it feel to finally be sitting here as Bayern coach? Nagelsmann smiles and lets us know it's a nice feeling. "But it'll only be cosy and warm when I win trophies. Only then will I have really arrived at FC Bayern. Until that happens, it's an incomplete feeling." A few days earlier, Nagelsmann suddenly took off and sprinted at speed during a training session. He thinks it's good when the players see "that you exemplify enthusiasm for what you do, and that includes taking part in drills sometimes. If you want to spark enthusiasm, you have to exude it. Besides, I actually felt like getting involved. I always liked coaches I could pass a ball to, and I don't think that somehow limits my authority as a coach when the players realise: OK, our coach is enjoying what he's teaching us all day long."
When something doesn't go the way he wants it to, when a game is lost or a session is less than convincing, for example, "it gnaws at me," says the new Bayern coach. "I then question what the problem was - whether I got the content wrong and whether that's the reason why the players didn't implement everything according to plan." The best antidote? Nagelsmann grins: "Just don't lose. And since I'm a positive person, I assume that we'll usually win much more often than we'll lose at FC Bayern." For the right way to deal with victories and defeats, he once heard a phrase that he still takes to heart today: "Share the victories - but never share the defeats." When something goes wrong, no one wants anything to do with it, he explains, "but then you as a coach have to bring the focus onto yourself all the more to show that you have everything under control and know what to do." After wins, on the other hand, everyone wants to share the limelight, and as a coach he always takes a step back, Nagelsmann explains, "because every player deserves a share. That's when I take a step back and let the boys go first." In his eyes, as a coach, you shouldn't make yourself bigger than you are in a moment like that. "Generally, I hate it when you play something and are indifferent to whether you win or lose. I play every game to win it, no matter what." For example, he says, his family always wants to teach him that you have to be able to lose sometimes when playing the board game "Mensch ärgere dich nicht" ( a version of Ludo) - but he doesn't want to hear about that: "I can maybe accept losing sometimes. But when I start being able to lose, I'll no longer be a winner. If I don't care how something might turn out, I'll watch a film. I have no influence there. But as long as I have influence over something, I want to shape it - and finish it on my terms."
Before he leaves, Nagelsmann turns around once more and looks at the fence where he once collected autographs himself as a boy, the training ground where he now calls the shots and the entrance to the dressing-room block where his players are waiting for him. "It only happens once in a lifetime that you get to coach the club you've been supporting since you were a kid, in your homeland," he says, "the whole package is absolutely unique." Does he know which FCB coach spent the longest time in office at a stretch? "Phew," says Nagelsmann, who ponders briefly and then cautiously ventures: "Ottmar Hitzfeld, maybe?" Right, the man knows his stuff! Hitzfeld was there for six years, Zlatko "Tschik" Cajkovski and Udo Lattek for five, which is how long his contract runs. "A pretty distinguished group, I'd like to be part of it one day," says the 34-year-old, and then he smiles as his last sentence reminds us of the only man from Upper Bavaria who has ever been head coach of FC Bayern apart from him: "Schaun mer mal!" ("Let's wait and see") he utters, mimicking Franz Beckenbauer. Julian Nagelsmann sounds good. He could well fit the Bayern mould, and one day feature in that line-up of stars, standing tall and in full life-size.
You can read the complete profile of Julian Nagelsmann in our members' magazine '51' (in German only).