Werder Bremen's head coach is one of the shooting stars of the Bundesliga. Since he was put in charge a year ago, both club and the coach have been on the up — even if it hasn't all been plain sailing.
After a year in charge of Werder Bremen, Florian Kohfeldt has at least one title in the bag. The 36-year-old has the most misspelled name of all Bundesliga head coaches. "Kohlfeld" or "Kohfeld" are the regular mistakes — even his own club can't seem to get it right. At the end of 2017 when Bremen extended Kohfeldt's contract beyond this season, the t was missing from the first release of the press statement. What, at the time, was a harmless error is unlikely to happen again because Florian Kohfeldt has made sure his name is worth remembering.
U21 goalkeeping coach at Werder
When Kohfeldt took over from Alexander Nouri as head coach at the end of October 2017, he was an unknown quantity. After Viktor Skripnik and Nouri, Kohfeldt was the third consecutive reserve team coach to be promoted to the seniors. Born in Siegen, Kohfeldt grew up in Delmenhorst in Bremen. He played as a goalkeeper at TV Jahn Delmenhorst, and then later in the U21 team at Werder that was coached by Skripnik. Kohfeldt says it only took him two or three training sessions to realize he wasn't going to make it as a pro keeper.
Nine pages of analysis for his youth coach
His skills were far better suited to life as a football analyst. After a 5-0 defeat in an U13 game at Delmenhorst, a young Kohfeldt gave his head coach nine pages of suggested improvements. "I was more than surprised that a 12-year-old was thinking such things," head coach Reinhard Schumacher told Bremen fans' site Deichstube. After Kohfeldt realized he wasn't going to make it as a pro, he studied sport and health science in Bremen. After his masters degree, he got his coaching badges at the German FA (DFB) and in 2015 finished top of his UEFA Pro Licence class.
When Kohfeldt took over at Bremen, the club were second last in the league and had failed to win any of their first 10 games of the season. His Bundesliga debut came against Eintracht Frankfurt and ended in an unfortunate 2-1 defeat. A week later, Bremen promoted Kohfeldt from interim coach to head coach. And that was when Werder found another gear — especially at home. Kohfeldt made sure his side attacked bravely, following his motto: "We attack first, and we figure out the defense from there." For almost a whole year, Kohfeldt's side remained unbeaten at home — until the 6-2 defeat against Leverkusen just over a week ago.
Season's goal: Europe
Werder finished 11th last season, after a strong second half of the campaign. Things were looking good this season too, but the heavy defeat to Leverkusen and a surprise defeat to Mainz last weekend have put the brakes on excitement. The performance in Mainz left Kohfeldt disappointed. "You have to be 1,000 percent committed to such games. You have to be frothing at the mouth."
Nevertheless, Kohfeldt says the club will stay calm and return to winning ways as soon as possible. Perhaps even on Saturday against Borussia Mönchengladbach, when sixth takes on second in the Bundesliga. It's a direct battle between two sides aiming for a European spot, an aim that Werder Bremen declared ahead of the season.
Kohfeldt's life has changed as Werder head coach and he admits he has too. "I don't walk through the city much any more. And whoever doesn't change is kidding themselves," Kohfeldt said. The young head coach gives the impression that he really loves his job. "There are no routines," he said with bright eyes. "This tingling sensation when you enter a stadium has not changed from the first day to this one. I hope it won't ever change because it's one of the greatest feelings there is."