The Julian Nagelsmann regime looks set to find firm footing early doors as Die Mannschaft prepares to take on Gregg Berhalter’s United States at Pratt & Whitney Stadium on Saturday evening in East Hartford, Connecticut.
Nagelsmann’s return to the technical area comes in the wake of the DFB making the long-awaited decision to part ways with former Joachim Löw disciple Hansi Flick after Germany’s struggles on the pitch in the aftermath of yet another shock exit from the group stage at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Despite how his tenure as Bürgermeister at the Allianz Arena came to a questionable end, the former Bayern Munich manager undoubtedly possesses the capability to get Germany firing on all cylinders in rapid order, with a tricky tie against Berhalter’s young States side offering a credible acid test right out of the gate.
From the off, there will already be questions that Nagelsmann must source answers for, and some are more pressing than others.
It was perhaps both a blessing and a curse that Germany ousted France in the final match before the Landsberg am Lech native took the reins when Rudi Völler’s interim rule seemingly shone with new life while Bayern colleagues Thomas Müller and Leroy Sané netted on either side of the half-time interval to end Germany’s five-match winless run that ultimately cost Flick his seat of power.
Now, Nagelsmann will surely be tasked with continuing what could well be a quickfire rebirth on US shores amid the hope that his superb stints with both TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig can come to the fore in national colours.
For Völler, the acquisition of Nagelsmann was a stroke of luck that the national team must grab with both hands with Euro 2024 just eight months away: “I couldn’t understand the discussions about his supposed lack of experience. He was a coach at Hoffenheim, Leipzig, and at Bayern Munich and gained a lot of experience there.”
Völler continued: “Well, things didn’t end so well in Munich, but what he achieved in his previous stops was sensational. His ability to get people excited, coupled with his football skills and his ability to read games, make him an exceptional coach and a stroke of luck for us.”
While luck may have finally arrived in Germany’s favour for the time being, there is no divine right to succeed under a manager who is, despite criticisms in Bavaria, a supremely gifted tactician. More importantly, just how Germany intends to rebuild its foundations in such a short period of time will dominate much of the discourse during the current interlull.
In that light, perhaps what anxious supporters will be on the lookout would be two-fold. Not just a continuation and subsequent progression moving on from the France result, but some semblance of a reinstitution of what ultimately made Germany one of the perennial powerhouses in world football; a ruthless efficiency that few could ever hope to match.
For all its dominance on the ball under Löw, and then Flick, Germany regularly was bereft of a necessary balance on the tactics board and on the pitch, while true ingenuity and creativity – though present in spades given some of the players on offer – somehow always lacked.
Given the fact that Nagelsmann boasts the likes of the aforementioned Müller and Sané as well as Jamal Musiala, Joshua Kimmich, Kai Havertz, Niclas Füllkrug, a wildly in-form Chris Führich, Florian Wirtz, and Julian Brandt, there is no lack of talent for the former center-back to dip into that would stop him from putting his wax seal on the team in short order.
And the fact that Nagelsmann’s Bayern posted out-of-this-world data at the time of a sacking that many felt was hardly justified, those same metrics married with a reduction in his penchant to overthink himself into trouble should certainly be on the checklist Saturday night in New England.
GGFN | Andrew Thompson