Nagelsmann: Bayern brought me in because of my philosophy
In the course of the 2022/23 Champions League campaign, Julian Nagelsmann gave an interview to UEFA, in which the FC Bayern head coach spoke about his career, his playing philosophy and what it means to him to work for the German record champions.
Julian Nagelsmann - The interview
When did you first hear about Bayern Munich?
"(smiles) It was a long time ago. I started playing football at the age of two and a half at my local club FC Issing. My brother is 11 years older than me, was a Bayern fan and certainly the first person to talk to me about Bayern back then - and from that day on I was a Bayern fan too. It's often the case that if your siblings are fans of a certain club, you also become a fan of that club. I always had the goal of playing for the club, but unfortunately I didn't succeed."
How did you react when you got the opportunity to coach Bayern?
"FC Bayern is the biggest German club. Every chance in life has an expiry date. You don't have infinite possibilities to accept a job offer like that. It was a big step, of course. But still, my heart reacted first, and I was naturally euphoric. My head tried to give the whole thing the necessary objectivity. But it's very, very rare you get the chance to coach the biggest club in your homeland. I'm very happy about that. As a coach, I always see myself professionally obliged to perform to the highest standards and, as a true fan, I also try to deliver good games for the fans who are in the stadium."
Did your attitude towards football change when you became a coach?
"Of course, it 's something completely different whether you're a coach or a player. As a player, you follow the dream of becoming a professional footballer, you invest an awful lot and you also make some sacrifices. Especially at youth level, you have to sacrifice a lot. While others are going to their first party, you're in bed early because there's a game the next morning. As a coach, on the other hand, you have a lot more responsibility, even off the pitch. You have to discuss a lot of topics, give interviews and press conferences. The view of football becomes more holistic this way, because external issues also come into play that you don't have to pay attention to as a player. But the fundamental view of the sport hasn't changed: I'm passionate about it and love football."
What is your footballing philosophy and how did it come about?
"As a player, you have different coaches at different clubs, each offering their own way of training. You take these influences away with you, but in general, it's important to develop your own philosophy. You have to work on creating your own ideas and setting your own rules. Towards the end of my playing career, I was injured a lot and had a lot of time to think about how I would do certain things as a coach. When I then became a coach, I worked on my philosophy week by week. The basic framework has been in place since my first year as head coach at U19 level. The mantra is 'control the game by winning the ball high up the pitch and changing the tempo in possession'."
Do you ever compromise on these aspects?
"I have certain principles I basically don't compromise on. They always apply, no matter what the score is, who the opponents are or who is playing. When you're dealing with people, you have to be flexible on certain points. That's quite normal. You have to approach people, be empathetic as a coach or leader and try to respond to the needs of your opposite number. There are certain things that should always apply. But there are also things in life where you can be a bit more laissez-faire."
Were you able to apply your philosophy straight away at Bayern?
"At the beginning, the players first have to get to know your philosophy, but you yourself also have to get to know the players. In general, I'm convinced a club should only bring in a coach if there's already a consensus on the philosophy beforehand. It makes no sense to sign a coach who would have to change his philosophy completely. He would then never be satisfied and would not be able to train and convey his playing philosophy in such an authentic way. Bayern Munich knew what I stood for and brought me in because of my philosophy too, so I was able to continue on the path I was already on beforehand."
Can this process of developing one's philosophy come to an end at some point?
"The goal is to strive for perfection, but you'll never achieve it. When you're completely familiar with a basic formation, doing everything right, you can then rehearse a new basic formation and try to consolidate the processes in such a way that they're almost perfect again. There are always nuances, developments and things you should improve. I would find it rather frustrating if you could no longer optimise anything. The job would then be less fun. Challenges are important in life, to grow from them."
To find out how successful Julian Nagelsmann has been with his team in the past twelve months, check out the facts on 2022: