Jürgen Klopp, Daniel Farke, Daniel Stendel: German managers in title hunt in top three English leagues | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 03.05.2019
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Jürgen Klopp, Daniel Farke, Daniel Stendel: German managers in title hunt in top three English leagues

As Jürgen Klopp tries to plot a course on two fronts, his impact is being felt further down the English league pyramid. German bosses could still take the title in England's top three divisions. What makes them so good?

While the Bundesliga title tussle is between a Swiss coach and a Croatian (albeit one born in Berlin), it's quite possible that the top three divisions of English football could all be won by managers born and educated in Germany.

Though Jürgen Klopp's path from the second division with Mainz through title wins with Borussia Dortmund to Liverpool was not unfamiliar in the globalized Premier League, the appointment of largely unknown Germans to posts lower down the English leagues is a relatively recent phenomenon.

While German coaches with playing connections to English football, like former Brentford, Leeds and Wigan boss Uwe Rösler have held jobs in England, it was Huddersfield's appointment of David Wagner, just a few weeks after Klopp joined Liverpool in late 2015, that paved the way for Daniel Farke and Daniel Stendel.

Dortmund reserves a fertile breeding ground

Farke, like Wagner, was plucked from coaching Borussia Dortmund's reserve team and thrust into the Championship (England's second tier) with the goal of helping Norwich City find their feet again.

Like Wagner, who won an historic promotion to the Premier League with Huddersfield in 2017 after a rebuilding job the season before, Farke's Norwich City side secured promotion to the top tier last week in the German's second season. With one game remaining, Norwich need a single point to add the title.

A league below, Daniel Stendel's Barnsley sit second in the table, having secured promotion on Tuesday without even playing. Bettering Luton Town's result against Oxford, or scoring four more goals in a win when they travel to 15th-placed Bristol Rovers, will see the Yorkshire outfit  crowned champions.

Klopp, the man that triggered the influx, needs Manchester City to slip up in order for Liverpool to leapfrog their rivals. Even if they don't, Farke says the 51-year-old has been a trailblazer for his compatriots.

"The German coaching training standards are good," he told news agency SID earlier this year. "They are internationally rated at a top level and in a very, very high class.

"And of course, then the success of Jürgen Klopp is a door-opener. He shows that a German coach can do a very good job."

Professional approach

Coaching education in Germany is taken much more seriously than in England and opportunites are often quicker to come along. Julian Nagelsmann, Florian Kohfeldt and Domenico Tedesco are examples of young coaches without distinguished playing careers who picked up high profile jobs at a young age after passing through the DFB (German Football Association) coaching course in Cologne.

Daniel Stendel has bounced back from a difficult start at Hannover (picture-alliance/dpa/J. Stratenschulte)

Daniel Stendel has bounced back from a difficult start at Hannover

The pathways in England are not quite so well-established, with a decorated playing career still often holding sway over qualifications. Of the three coaches in title contention this term, Stendel played at the highest level, making 180 appearances for Hannover before taking over as coach towards the end of the 2015-16 season with the club already adrift at the bottom of the Bundesliga.

Tough first job for Stendel

Despite a win rate over 50 percent, Stendel was sacked the next season. 

"In Germany, when you do not have a good start, it is very difficult to change it," he said. "Players can lose confidence and it is very difficult to show what you want."

Though Stendel didn't need as much patience the second time round, he may require it next season. Barnsley will have one of the lowest budgets in a division that currently includes former European Cup winners Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest.

Time was something Farke both needed and used at Norwich, as sporting director Stuart Webber explained to local paper PinkUn after promotion.

"During last year there was a lot of pain, but we said that pain was going to come and when Daniel was getting a lot of stick, it was a case of 'give the guy a break!' – he had inherited a ridiculous wage bill, a ridiculously aged squad and a horrendous culture.

"I said when we appointed him that we've got the best coach in the league and nothing has ever changed my mind on that. Even last season, the work he did every single day was incredible and we're extremely fortunate to have him."

Similar approaches, different styles

Feelings towards Stendel in Barnsley are similar, with the Yorkshre Evening Post noting: "Just as Wagner connected with Huddersfield supporters through his side’s aggressive, front-foot style of football which was laden with fighting spirit and 'Terriers Identity' as he constantly called it, so Stendel is similarly tapping into the psyche of Barnsley supporters."

Though all three bosses, and indeed Wagner, share similarities in approach; notably pressing, a strong work ethic, a high level of training ground intensity, a commitment to team spirit and an immersion in the local community, there are naturally subtle differences in approaches, both tactical and psychological.

But, in a couple of week's time, Klopp, Farke and Stendel could share more than just a nationality. They could all be league winners in England.

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