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Julian Nagelsmann Bucks The Trend With Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich are not just a football club; they’re an institution.

Whenever there’s a change of manager, it presents an interesting challenge. On the face of it, the Bayern job is one of the easiest in football. With the greatest respect to many other German clubs, none dominate like Bayern. They are expected to top the table with nine consecutive titles and 15 since the turn of the century. If they don’t, then a manager will have been considered a failure. If they do, it’s only as much as was expected.

This season, there’s a new man at the helm; 34-year-old Julian Nagelsmann. His reign has certainly started well after an early hiccup. His first competitive game ended in a 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach, according to Bundesliga.com, but since then, he’s proven to be quite adept in the dugout. History is not on his side either; a Bwin feature on football managers suggests 30-somethings do not fare well when placed in charge of big teams. Andre Villas-Boas failed at Chelsea, whilst Clarence Seedorf was an unmitigated disaster at AC Milan. Nagelsmann might just be about to buck the trend in his third managerial appointment.

Having retired as a player early through injury, the Landsberg-born defender began coaching, rising through the ranks at 1899 Hoffenheim. He took over the club with them deep in the relegation mire but quickly turned them around, securing a Champions League spot. From there, he went to Leipzig, where he secured a Champions League semi-final spot. That made him the youngest manager to do so and prompted Bayern to pay a world record €25m for his services.

The 1-1 draw with Monchengladbach might have been a rather low-key start, but the young manager has proven to be anything but low-key since then. They beat their nearest challengers Dortmund 3-1 in the second match of his reign, then scored 17 goals in just three days with wins over Bremer SV (12-0) and Hertha Berlin (5-0). The first big test of his Bayern career came in the Camp Nou, where Barcelona were humbled 3-0 in the Champions League. It all certainly bodes well for Nagelsmann and Bayern.

His reign has not just been characterised by goals; he has proved his man-management credentials by showing faith in former Manchester City man Leroy Sane. He was jeered after a poor outing in the 3-2 victory over Cologne at the end of August, but his manager kept him in the side. The German international scored directly from a free-kick as Bochum were humiliated 7-0 recently, and he set up the second for Kimmich. Despite the negative crowd reaction, he’s started four of their five league matches, as well as playing in the Champions League, repaying that faith.

Nagelsmann has said he wants defensive stability as well as variety in attack. He wants to play entertaining football that doesn’t just deliver the title, as expected, but does so in a manner that keeps the 75,000 fans in the Allianz Arena on the edge of their seats. He’s achieving one of those ideals already; in his eight matches in charge, Bayern have scored 40 goals. With just four clean sheets, there is still more to come if he is to achieve his goal, but it is fair to say it’s been a good start.

30-somethings don’t normally do well when given a big club to manage, but the early indications are this 34-year-old will be the exception to the rule.

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