- Title: Not the big cheese says Hoffenheim's Nagelsmann
- Date: 23rd November 2016
- Summary: FOOTBALL PICTURES ON WALL
- Embargoed: 8th December 2016 17:59
- Keywords: TSG Hoffenheim Julian Nagelsmann coach Bundesliga
- Location: HOFFENHEIM, ZUZENHAUSEN & BERLIN, GERMANY
- City: HOFFENHEIM, ZUZENHAUSEN & BERLIN, GERMANY
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Soccer,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA00259NYJWF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: He may be the Bundesliga's youngest ever coach but 29-year-old Julian Nagelsmann has built up a level of trust with his players that he says is key to the unbeaten club's sensational run in the Bundesliga this season.
Nagelsmann took over midway through last season with the team anchored in 17th place and with the mandate of keeping them in the top division.
After succeeding in his first major mission in the Bundesliga, Nagelsmann has this season taken the league by storm with Hoffenheim unbeaten so far in 11 matches, a feat equalled only by leaders RB Leizpig.
Hoffenheim, who have won five of their last seven matches, are on 21 points, level with third-placed Borussia Dortmund and three off second-placed Bayern Munich.
"I think a basis of trust and good ties are important," Nagelsmann told Reuters during a break in training on Wednesday (November 23).
"It is also clear that due to my age I also do not come across to players as the big cheese," he said. "But I am not one of the boys, that is clear as well. At the end of the day I take those decisions that at times are tough on the players."
One could mistake him, given his appearance with his short blond hair and youthful face, with a player but there is no mistaking his tactical nous that has earned him the nickname "baby Mourinho" in reference to the Manchester United coach.
With Hoffenheim playing their best season since their maiden campaign in the Bundesliga in 2008/9, Nagelsmann has quickly made a name for himself, turning doubters into supporters and international media hailing him as the "wunderkind" of German football.
"I am not alone on the coaching staff," Nagelsmann said, uncomfortable with the praise he has been receiving recently. "Obviously I am more in the focus than my assistants but we all contribute to the success."
"But at the top is the team which has to apply the ideas and at the moment it is doing it very well."
The comparison with Mourinho is not lost on Nagelsmann, for whom the Portuguese is a role model.
"I always say that Pep Guardiola is a role model for me given the way and style of his football," he said. "Though I do try to copy something from every coach."
Mourinho's silverware haul is also something Nagelsmann wants to experience.
"I can say that this is my long-term goal," he said. "To play with my team in an international competition and play for the title. If I can do that then I will have reached a major goal of mine."
Hoffenheim's success, however, has brought up the question of Nagelsmann's future at the club but sports director Alexander Rosen said he was convinced the coach, whose contract runs to 2019, would remain there for some time.
"He is certainly an ambitious man," Rosen told Reuters. "On the other hand he is still very young who knows exactly what he has here. I do not think he is wasting any thoughts of going somewhere else at the moment."
"I am certain Hoffenheim will not be his last coaching stop but I also don't think that in the short term he is thinking about changes."
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