It is interesting times in the English Premier League. Not only is the race for the top spot gathering momentum. It is also razor thin and one of the closest in recent time. From recent seasons in the top flight, the club who remains top of the log by Christmas eventually finishes top by the end of May. How Man City or its closest challengers Chelsea and Liverpool survive the murky waters of fixture congestion in December will play out in the remaining weeks as we edge closer to the half way line.
Are you talking about the trooping into England by German football stars? Nein! Jordan Sancho (Man Utd) or Timo Werner and Kai Havertz (both Chelsea)? Or the protracted wooing of Dortmund’s hottest kid on the block, Haarland? Or even Bellingham, an English product, being courted by many EPL suitors? But of course, I am not referring to the players. I am talking about the Bundesliga’s finest of coaching products, products of an efficient ‘German machine’ system oiled by a near perfect academic football system. Who says football is pure talent? Are you talking of Messi? Football mastery can be learnt through a dint of hardwork? Is Ronaldo not a perfect example? If football was born in England, then it was groomed in Germany. One can imagine the phenomenal growth of this round leather game in Germany, a place that once labelled football as an ‘English disease’! Football Is now not only a tradition and a craze. It has gone digital in the form of a German Football museum in Dortmund with state-of-the art facilities, replete with memoirs and unforgettables.
So, what makes the German coaches well sought after? What do they bring to the table? Tactical astuteness? Resilient formation systems? Excellent man management of egos of millionaire football stars? Far much more. Germans are known for their ‘textbook’ football. By nature, they are known to be conservative and perfectionist. They delve into details and settle for nothing less than the best. That is why German products are well sought after in commerce and now obviously, in football.
The German Coaching Academy, an arm of the German Football Association DFB, is credited for churning out these world class coaches and giving them the free reins to start on-the-job training, kind of hands-on, in various academies and reserve teams. Located in Cologne, this ‘factory’ has produced over 5500 ‘B’ licenses, 2500 ‘A’ licenses and over 1500 ‘C’ licenses. The ‘A’ license allows one to train all amateur and youth teams, as well as women’s teams while the ‘C’ license enables a certified coach to handle junior and senior levels for high performance-based training.Any wonder they keep flourishing? Any wonder their products deliver in amazing fashion, carting home trophy after trophy! Their trophy cabinets are full to the brim.
The last 3 Champions League crowns were taken by German coaches! It is no coincidence. 2019 Hansi Flick (Bayern Munchen), 2020 Jugen Klopp (Liverpool) and Thomas Tuchel (Chelsea) in 2021. And they are still in the hunt for this Holy Grail of club football come 2022. In the last 30 years, German clubs have won it 4 times (Bayern thrice, Dortmund once) and the World Cup also two times (1990 and 2014) out of a possible 8. That is no mean feat.
The not-too new concept making the rounds is a German coinage, Gegenpressing! Gegenpressing is a fast paced, high work rate football where football lost is quickly retrieved and with counter attacking its sole purpose. That is what Jurgen Klopp calls ‘heavy metal’ football. He is considered the father of gegenpressing while his counterpart in Man Utd, Rangnick as the godfather of it. What gegenpressing is to Klopp, ‘tiki taka’ is to Guardiola; both having their ardent followers and disciples. What Tiki-taka delivered to Guardiola in Barca 10 years ago, Gegenpressing has delivered in the last 3-4 seasons!
Back to the English Premier League, these coaches are not only able to attract the best talents from the Bundesliga as shown in Keita, Timor Werner, Kai Havertz, Anthonio Rudiger (though brought in by Frank Lampard). They turn ‘average’ or non-motivated players into the cold football machines. Ask Tuchel what magic wand he wielded on Rudiger! Ask Jurgen what he turned Salah into! Ask Hasenhuttl in Southampton. Daniel Farke must have been given the sack in Norwich but who knows the impact he left behind!
In England Incidentally, only 7 German coaches have ever managed clubs in the top echelon of football in England, in fact, eight (8) if you consider Austrian, Ralph Hasenhuttl (Southampton) as German. They are Felix Magath (Fulham), Jan Siewert, replaced David Wagner (Huddersfield), Daniel Farke (Norwich), Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool), Thomas Tuchel (Chelsea) and now Ralf Rangnick (Man Utd). The stage is set for a battle of Deutsche wits pitted against English and other countries, four verses 16 other EPL managers. Rangnick is beginning to impose his philosophies on the team. So also Klopp and Tuchel. In the just concluded UCL group of 16, we have four Germans. And you bet they are desperate, always, to stamp their authority.
A plethora of German football talents have lit the EPL in recent years. Jurgen Klinsmann, Oliver Khan, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Michael Ballack, Mesut Ozil, et al. It’s the turn of the coaches. With exuberant German coaching talent and flair on display this season in England, a Champions League trophy seems almost certain to be retained. A Premier League crown too is being planned to be wrestled out of Spaniard dominance. Guardiola is top by a point and fiercely given a ‘bumper-to-bumper’ marking. This is World War 3. This is Germany’s invasion of England. And the world’s loving it! Wunderbar!
ARTICLE WRITTEN BY:
Pharmacist, Public Health Expert, Health Communicator, Football Enthusiast and Freelance Writer
Port Harcourt, Nigeria
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