By Ross Dunbar
It is a common theme for many newly-appointed managers to plead for time. But their wishes are rarely fufilled and to many, short-term success is more important than long-term sustainability and development. It is a demanding environment in the Bundesliga and many of the country’s biggest sides are suffering at the hands of a lack of forward planning over the last decade, or so.
Some of Germany’s previous champions – Hamburg and Köln, amongst others – have neglected . One of the main factors is a lack of stability, with the ‘Billy Goats’, in particular, being renowned for conflict between the coach and sporting director. Last season, they dropped back to the second division having hit a snag between Stale Solbakken and Volker Finke – both were eventually relieved of their duties.
That said, there are a number of fresh names entering the German top-flight and reaping the rewards of keeping faith in young coaches who are trying to bring the long-term benefits of a football philosophy.
One of the upcoming coaching prospects in the top-flight is FSV Mainz 05 head coach, Thomas Tuchel, who has done a remarkable job with the 'Carnival Club’. The 39-year-old was involved in the youth department at Mainz before taking over from Jürgen Klopp in 2008. Both Tuchel and 'Kloppo’ have brought a vibrancy to the club which has seen them establish their name, amongst the best in Germany.
The benefits of long-term stability in the Bundesliga is paying dividends for Mainz. The club now has its own training centre and last season, they moved into a purpose-built 30,000-seater arena. Tuchel has managed a tight playing budget in recent seasons, relying largely on loan-signings for the added bit of quality and a number of promising young players, including Frankfurt-born defender Jan Kirchhoff, who is now captain of the German U21s.
They might need to be content with a bottom-half finish, more often than not, but Mainz have been regulars in the Bundesliga, with seven out of the last nine seasons in the German top-flight. For a largely provincial club, that is a superb achievement. Mainz have spent just £1.5m this summer and regularly look to make a profit in the transfer market. In 2011/12, the club still were able to make a £2m profit, having spent nearly £10m on re-building a squad which had lost star-talents Lewis Holtby and André Schürrle.
Perhaps, a negative consequence of success is that many will look upon Mainz’s stagnation in the Bundesliga, as not of the standard required. Tuchel took the club a ninth-place finish in his first season, but excelled in 2010-11 with a hugely attractive attacking side, concluding the campaign in fifth - and qualifying for the UEFA Europa League where they were dumped out at the first hurdle by Romanian minnows Gaz Metan. Last season, though, Mainz could only manage 13th in a bottom-half which produced a nail-biting climax and could have gone the opposite way, bar a few other results.
“Stop thinking like the successful Mainz from two years ago. It also applies to this team. Always remember: One year’s pay for Javi Martinez [Bayern midfielder] is four years the budget for Mainz 05.” Tuchel told German newspaper BILD at the weekend.
Blunt, but true; Mainz are in no position to compete with a host of Bundesliga clubs, financially, which puts into perspective the consistent success of Tuchel at the club. The young coach fascinated many, tactically, with some unbelievable results over FC Bayern in recent years, including a 2-1 over the Bavarians two seasons before at the Allianz Arena and a 3-2 victory at the Coface Arena in the reverse fixture.
Tuchel and Christian Streich, of SC Freiburg, are symbolic of their respective playing styles. The eccentric, absorbing nature of their antics on the sidelines seems to correlate with a youthful, high-pressing style of play. Instead of having an individual on the park, it is a method of setting the tempo from the dugout. Freiburg, in particular, carried this trait out to good effect at the weekend, beating TSG Hoffenheim 5-3 in an entertaining encounter.
The club from the 'Black Forest’ produced a gallant fight for survival in the rückrunde of last season: selling Papiss Demba Cisse for £10m to Newcastle, promoting a number of raw talents and appointing their youth coach as first-team boss. It certainly is not exactly pressing the panic-button that is for sure. The cult-hero of Freiburg, Streich, has been in charge for 20 games since his appointment in January, picking up eight wins, seven draws and losing five encounters. His predecessor Marcus Sorg managed just three victories in 17 matches, leaving the 'Breisgau Brazilians’ five points adrift.
However, Streich resurrected the club’s Bundesliga ambitions, winning his first match against FC Augsburg, then leading Freiburg to a surprisingly comfortable 12th-place finish in the table. Freiburg have seen their young graduates from last season become invaluable first-team players, with Matthias Ginter and Oliver Sorg, just two of those to continue in the rich vein of form as last season.
Freiburg and Mainz will have their work cut-out to consolidate their place in the Bundesliga this season but looking broadly at the general demise of Hamburg SV, 1.FC Köln and others who enjoyed dominance in previous decades, it would appear as though there is no quick-fix for success - unless, of course, you have the financial clout of FC Bayern, for example.
Based on the sustainability of Freiburg and Mainz in the Bundesliga, this seems to be a logical philosophy to follow for many others.