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Coaches catch the eye as England wakes up to German talent

German coaches have long enjoyed success in foreign leagues such as those in Turkey and Spain, but none have made the leap to the English Premiership. A new breed of innovative coaches may be about to change all that.

Ralf Rangnick

Ex-Hoffenheim coach Rangnick is a confirmed Anglophile

The telephones of some of Germany's top agents were ringing off the hook in the late summer of 2010 as some of Europe's biggest soccer clubs raced to sign the cream of the latest crop of Bundesliga talent. Germany's strong and creative showing at the World Cup in South Africa transformed players such as Thomas Mueller, Mesut Oezil and Sami Khedira from Bundesliga prospects into international stars. Suddenly everybody wanted a young German in their team.

What was surprising at the time was that while the players who performed so well were quite rightly basking in the limelight, the tactical minds behind who’d helped them hone their craft remained in the wings. The major players in the club game in England, Spain and Italy did not rush to install a German coach to lead their team.

This was unexpected because ever since the German Soccer Federation (DFB) revamped its structure in 2000 - after the German national team's dismal performance at the European Championships of that year - Germany has not only been producing a steady stream of potentially world class starlets but also a number of innovative and dynamic young coaches to lead them.

The DFB's system requires all Bundesliga clubs to have an academy where the most forward-thinking soccer drills are used to foster young players' development, and also set up a coaching academy which inculcates young managers with a philosophy emphasizes high-tempo, high precision, attacking soccer.

Ready for the jump

Mainz's coach Thomas Tuchel, left, and Dortmund's coach Juergen Klopp

Tuchel's Mainz and Klopp's BVB have lit up the Bundesliga

The current Bundesliga season has seen a shake-up of the old order where clubs like Mainz, Freiburg and Borussia Dortmund have eclipsed the traditional powerhouses of Bayern Munich, Schalke and Werder Bremen to not only push for the title but do so in a cavalier manner unseen in Germany's top flight for some time. It's no coincidence that young German coaches are at the heart of this renaissance.

If German players were the must-have items of 2010, German coaches may be the desired choice of European clubs in 2011. Dortmund's Juergen Klopp and ex-Hoffenheim coach Ralf Rangnick have already been linked to potential moves to the English Premiership and while their names have only been mentioned in the context of rumors, Joerg Jakob, the deputy editor-in-chief at kicker magazine, believes that it's just a matter of time before a German coach moves to an English club.

"There is no reason why a German coach can't go to the Premiership and succeed but while there is a lot of interest in England among German coaches, they perhaps fear that their spoken English may not be strong enough and that the soccer culture may be too different for them," he told Deutsche Welle.

"There isn't a great difference between the fan culture and the playing culture, but the way clubs are run and the infrastructure is very different to clubs in Germany," he added. "Some German coaches may have reservations about working this way, especially when there is no precedent. There is no German with this experience they can ask. Someone has to be the first."

Leading candidates

Juergen Klopp

Klopp was tight-lipped over rumors linking him to Liverpool

Klopp, whose Dortmund team are runaway league leaders, and Rangnick - who took former village team Hoffenheim to the top of the Bundesliga in three seasons - are both confirmed fans of English soccer.

"Rangnick is a very 'British' coach in many ways and he has followed the model of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, with whom he cooperated for a time when he was observing in England," Jonas Keinert, who covers Hoffenheim for 1899aktuell.de, told Deutsche Welle. "At Hoffenheim he tried to integrate several experts into his coaching team and delegated many tasks. He is very methodical and is known as a good developer of players’ abilities."

Rangnick, Klopp, and others of their generation are well-known for an offensive playing style which has excited fans in the Bundesliga, which could be transferred to the Premiership, said kicker’s Jakob - given enough time.

"What could be difficult, apart from the club culture, is adapting to the style of play," Jakob said. "Klopp, Rangnick, Thomas Tuchel at Mainz - they have all worked with young squads and their style may not be immediately tuned to the powerful and physical aspects of English soccer."

"But given time to work with a squad, these coaches are clever enough to change the attitude and style. If they bring in some of their own players, I can see Klopp or Rangnick eventually succeeding with their style there."

1899aktuell.de’s Keinert sees another long-term advantage that could arise from hiring a German coach.

"Rangnick is one of the pioneers of the German youth system who built up one of the most successful structures at VfB Stuttgart, which produced great players like Mario Gomez, Sami Khedira and Andreas Beck and so on," he said.

"This focus on the development of young players and the famous efficiency of German soccer are the main benefits that new influences from Germany could bring to the English game."

Author: Nick Amies

Editor: Matt Hermann

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