June 7, 2023

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Nagelsmann’s dismissal is a very strange and sad decision

Reflection by Artem Denisov.

Even those who follow Bayern only in the Champions League are surprised by the dismissal of Julian Nagelsmann. And those who know the team’s device are simply shocked.

It is really difficult to find logic in such changes. And that’s why.

This is a very strange decision because Nagelsmann is a great coach

What did Nagelsmann accomplish in less than two years at Bayern?

At the player level:

• Now Kimmich is the main player of Bayern. Nagelsmann didn’t unearth the talent, of course, but cemented Yosua as an uncompromisingly elite player, the world’s best ball defender, Bayern’s most powerful player on the pitch (inside and outside).

• Goretzka, physically swaying to the limit under Flick, under Nagelsmann, was also mentally pummeled. When necessary, he covers the position of the fullback, then runs as a situational forward into the penalty area, in another attack he helps the side when moving forward and never forgets to kill everyone with his body in the center of the field. Just look at his performance against PSG in both matches, it’s a triumph of athleticism and intelligence.

• Alphonso Davis – perhaps the runner of a new era. Under Nagelsmann, he accelerated not only along the flank. Pep Guardiola, through João Cancelo, promoted the idea of ​​the false full-back, that is, the full-back who turns into a defensive midfielder when possessed. Davis also rushes to the central axis, but not through possession in short, but through explosive jerks and high-speed dribbling. 

• A stagnating Leroy Sane has awakened. Even Hansi Flick, who, after leaving the club, publicly praised Nagelsmann for Sane’s progress, did not stir him up. Leroy breathed like a kind of ten, looking for space between the lines. Sometimes, however, oxygen runs out again – such a player.

• Musiala’s breakthrough, Choupo-Moting’s sudden genius, Coman’s most consistent season at Bayern (2021/22), the apt Stanisic – let’s pack it into one item, in theory it could have happened without Nagelsmann, but it happened with him.

Team level:

• Defense has improved. You can smirk after the episodic imports of Upamecano and De Ligt – they will be, this is the existence of a truly bold and aggressive team. But the balance of positive and negative is clearly pleasing. Dayot and Matthijs are infinitely comfortable with Nagelsmann’s idea of ​​a dominant structure. Upamecano advances the ball, De Ligt bites the throws. 

• Nagelsmann developed a rest-defence structure in positional attack, suitable for both counter-pressing (quick return of the ball) and for easy retreat to the defense. Even Flick had problems with this: Kimmich and Goretzka frantically flew into the pressure, only two central defenders remained behind. Now there is often a third spotter. Kimmich and Goretzka are better at reading episodes.

• With the attack, too, everything is fine. Just the facts: Bayern score the most in the top 5 leagues (no one has more than 72 goals, although there are corny fewer matches in the Bundesliga) and lead in expected goals (2.13 on average per match).

What was Nagelsmann bad at? An objective and honest claim – the team did not get on the bus well. It was the low positional defense that looked unconvincing. Indeed, there are many cases: the recent 2-1 with Stuttgart and the first game with PSG, from the productively important – the lost victory over Dortmund in the fall, when 2-0 turned into 2-2.

Total : in terms of the quality of the game, Bayern under Nagelsmann remained one of the best teams in Europe. I quickly learned to score without Lewandowski and increased the reliability in defense.

This is a very strange decision, because Nagelsmann is one of Bayern’s main strategists.

Bayern bought Upamecano and Sabitzer from Leipzig, from where Nagelsmann moved to Munich. Nagelsmann, along with sports director Hasan Salihamidzic, went to talks on Manet and De Ligt. The German media unanimously wrote that Nagelsmann really wanted Cansela, he informed the management about this last winter. Mazraoui’s false fullback is a type that Nagelsmann simply adores. The transition of the free agent Laimer seemed almost resolved – the Austrian defensive midfielder, who is also familiar with Nagelsmann from RB, has a contract expiring in the summer.

Nagelsmann looked like more than just a coach with whom transfers are consistent. He looked like a coach who buy players

And his influence did not end with transfers.

In February 2023, Bayern sacked goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic, a close friend of Neuer, and hired Michael Rechner, with whom Nagelsmann had worked at Hoffenheim. The most obvious growth of Julian’s shares against the backdrop of the scandal with Neuer, dissatisfied with the changes. 

Despite this, there was no feeling at all that Bayern were blindly serving Nagelsmann. Salihamidzic did without artificial praise, he could publicly criticize the team after nondescript games (for example, after 1:2 from Bayer or 1:1 from Leipzig in January). 

The main thing is that the top management of Bayern strategically fully supported Nagelsmann. The coach seemed to be a fundamental figure. This is a logical approach: the team has the resources to buy players at the top of the priority list here and now, there is an option for long-term planning. And there is a top 35-year-old coach with a contract until 2026, for which Leipzig were paid a record 25 million euros.

“I think Julian has come a long way. He is a top coach, an excellent tactician and strategist at the highest European level. We want to build something meaningful with him, which is why we signed a five-year contract,” said Bayern president Herbert Hainer… March 21, three days ago.

How can a layoff be justified?

Assumption after the first rumors: Nagelsmann at an important meeting did not calculate his strength and suddenly for himself gave Spartak Gogniev . That is, he expressed his thoughts in such a way that a vivid monologue turned into unjustified madness. 

Already recently, Nagelsmann broke down: in February, after 2:3 from Gladbach, he cursed judge Tobias Welz in such a way that he later apologized greatly, and Welz, when asked about the details of the communication, replied that he would not be able to reproduce such a monologue on television.

That’s just not even insiders about a sudden terrible scandal with the leadership. Nagelsmann went skiing after the tour and learned about the dismissal from Bild journalists. Well, at least I didn’t repeat Neuer’s race.

There are two versions of the reasons for the dismissal.

1. Bad results. Everything is great in the Champions League, the 1/4 finals are coming soon in the German Cup, but Nagelsmann was not forgiven for the regular loss of points in the Bundesliga and the rise of Dortmund to the first place. 

2. Desire to invite Thomas Tuchel. Top Sky Sports insider Florian Plettenberg said that Tuchel has been living in Munich for several weeks, the Bayern bosses were very pleased with the meetings with Thomas. 


In terms of the quality of the game, Bayern still remains the uncontested best team in Germany, lagging behind Borussia by 1 point with the impending classic at the Allianz Arena. And it’s impossible to abstract from the Champions League: it’s unlikely that the path through Barca and Inter in the group and PSG in the 1/8 finals could have been more worthy than Nagelsmann’s Bayern did. 

Tuchel is one of the main tactical geeks of our time with a complex character. Hmm, doesn’t it remind you of anyone? Coaching succession at Bayern has never been so absurd. 


It is sad to realize that this is how the path of the best German coach of the generation in the strongest German team ends. If Nagelsmann had stumbled upon Villarreal for the second time in a row, it would not have been so insulting.