A sigh goes through the industry when an important position in football is filled after days and weeks of searching. That's how it was in the summer of 2021 when Hansi Flick was appointed Joachim Löw's successor. The DFB even held a small ceremony in the shell of its new academy in Frankfurt am Main. All those invited were happy that Flick, the miracle coach of FC Bayern (six titles within one year!), would from now on work his magical powers on the national team.
And now? As soon as the consistent reports were out on Tuesday afternoon that Julian Nagelsmann would inherit the disenchanted Flick, football Germany didn't breathe a sigh of relief, but rather frowned. Can he even do that? This is the question written on this forehead.
Nagelsmann - that's the guy with the three-quarter pants that are too short and the suits that are too checked, a professional youth coach who comes to training with his skateboard, who wants to be more casual than his players, who lacks a sense of proportion and balance. Someone like that should coach the national team? Seriously?
This question reveals the distorted self-perception that German football suffers from. It is assumed that the national coaching office is still the most beautiful and glorious in world sport. An office that adorns its holder, that is coveted by many and only granted to the enviable one.
But this national team, which is both an honor and a pleasure to coach, has not existed for almost ten years. There is a failure twice in a World Cup preliminary round (2018 and 2022), an exit from the European Championship in the round of 16 (2021) and - what is often ignored - relegation from the Nations League (2018), which was only due to a structural reform by UEFA was not carried out.
The DFB's reputation as an employer has also suffered. Seven different presidents in the past eleven years, intrigues in the management, the scandal-ridden summer fairy tale, suspected accounting fraud, suspicion of tax evasion; the list could be extended by a few more points.
This morally and economically struggling association has apparently now succeeded (official confirmation is still pending) in signing Julian Nagelsmann, 36, as national coach. A man with some weaknesses, but still the greatest coaching talent in European football. This is a success for the DFB. Nagelmann adorns the association - and not the other way around, the association job.
When Nagelsmann was fired from FC Bayern in March of this year after a defeat in Leverkusen, the Munich team were in first place in the table, they had just knocked Paris Saint-Germain out of the Champions League and were also represented in the DFB Cup. When Thomas Tuchel took over, they fell to Manchester City in the Champions League, lost to SC Freiburg in the DFB Cup, and only defended the championship title in the 89th minute of the last matchday.
Nagelsmann's assessment of the two years in Munich is not that of a failure. Nagelmann knows this, he knows his market value exactly, and that's probably why he only promised the DFB until the end of the 2024 European Championship. His goal is still to look after a big European team. There was already contact with Chelsea and Paris this summer, and next year the most coveted coaching chair in international football will be available. Carlo Ancelotti is leaving Real Madrid to become Brazil coach. Nagelsmann is considered one of the candidates in Madrid, as is Xabi Alonso (whose Leverkusen player Nagelsmann fatefully lost to in the spring).
Nagelsmann's job at the DFB will end in mid-July 2024, when the final whistle blows for the home European Championship. The risk of his reputation suffering if the tournament goes wrong is low. If the Germans do poorly, he won't get more out of it than Löw and Flick before him. Then there is a lack of playing quality in the team, a deficiency that cannot be remedied by anyone. That's how he could portray it. However, if the national team plays a strong tournament, Nagelsmann will be seen as a great strategist who has pulled German football out of the lethargy of the Löw-Flick years. In fact, this would be a small masterpiece - and a recommendation for higher tasks.