A trio of German gaffers have been shortlisted to win the brand spanking new UEFA Coach of the Year accolade; which is awarded to a manager working in Europe based on their performance throughout the 2019/20 season, judged by a jury of 80 coaches and 55 journalists.
2019 FIFA Coach of the Year Jurgen Klopp battles the Bundesliga duo of treble-winner Hansi Flick and 33-year-old wonkerkid Julian Nagelsmann for the top managerial gong, with the victor announced on Thursday 1st October during the 2020/21 Champions League draw ceremony.
Below we take a look at the credentials of each boss…
Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)
Liverpool may have started - what would turn out to be one the most memorable of seasons - with a penalty shoot-out defeat to Man City in the Community Shield, but 10 days later they responded with a spot-kick victory of their own; as the Reds lifted the European Super Cup at Chelsea’s expense.
It was the first of three trophies for Jurgen Klopp’s men who went on to win the FIFA Club World Cup and, of course, that elusive Premier League title.
The Reds, who agonisingly missed out on the 2018/19 title by a point, jetted out of the blocks in a rip-roaring and dominating fashion. They accumulated 79 points from their opening 27 matches, didn’t suffer their first defeat until the end of February, then with seven games to spare they wrapped up their first title for 30 years in June - after the season was halted in March.
The stunning success was a result of a five-year evolution under Klopp whose tactical intelligence, outstanding recruitment, and impulsive passion invigorated a fanbase and propelled Liverpool to glory on multiple fronts.
The 2018/19 Champions League triumph saw Klopp crowned 2019 FIFA Coach of the Year, and now after world and English dominance the LMA Manager of the Year will be hoping to become the inaugural winner of the UEFA Men's Coach of the Year Award.
Can Jurgen Klopp bag another managerial honour?
Hansi Flick (Bayern Munich)
A humbling 5-1 spanking at the hands of his former club Frankfurt saw Niko Kovac sacked at Bayern Munich in November; a result which left the club fourth in the table, four points off top spot.
Hansi Flick was placed in caretaker charge in what was expected to be a temporary warming of the hot seat, with managerial heavyweights Max Allegri and Jose Mourinho instantly linked with the German giants, as was Mauricio Pochettino a couple of weeks later.
Flick won his opening four games with a combined scoreline of 16 goals to zero but while he then lost back-to-back games, it proved to be a minuscule blip as the German has not been beaten since.
In fact, Flick’s Bayern have gone on to win 31 of their subsequent 32 matches across four competitions, all of which they’ve won: Bundesliga, German Cup, Champions League, then on Thursday the European Super Cup was added to the glistening haul.
It’s been an utterly stupendous 11 months for Flick whose side have hammered home 126 goals in his 38 matches at the helm, while he remarkably has more trophies (four) than defeats (three).
- Treble Winners— The Sack Race (@thesackrace) September 24, 2020
- UEFA Super Cup Winners
- 23 consecutive wins
- Unbeaten in 2020
Since Hansi Flick took charge of #BayernMunich in November - yes, November - he's lifted four trophies and been nominated for UEFA Coach of the Year! 🇩🇪 🙌#BayernSevilla pic.twitter.com/Xe2wbg9g8L
What's his secret?
The players absolutely love him. Flick’s man-management/social skills are second to none. The tactically astute coach’s decision to move David Alaba to centre-back worked wonders, the electric Alphonso Davies has thrived at left-back, Thomas Muller has been rejuvenated, and the likes of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka have excelled, while Robert Lewandowski has continued to score a silly amount of goals.
Flick has transformed Bayern into an absolute juggernaut.
They are absolutely relentless. The thrashing Red waves of attack and supreme pressing demoralise opponents - the 8-2 win over Barcelona was simply breathtaking - yet they are equally as strong from an organisational and disciplined perspective.
Not bad for a guy that was originally viewed as a stop gap.
Julian Nagelsmann (RB Leipzig)
Julian Nagelsmann makes up the final piece of our managerial triumvirate.
For starters, the RB Leipzig incumbent is the only manager who has faced Hansi Flick in 2020 and not lost, which is an achievement in itself.
Unlike Flick and Jurgen Klopp, Nagelsmann didn’t lift a trophy last season. However, the 33-year-old’s career continued on an upwards trajectory in what was his first campaign at the helm of RB Leipzig.
Nagelsmann’s troops led the Bundesliga at the Winter Break and, while they would only experience a couple of league defeats through to the end of the disrupted season, too many draws combined with Bayern’s utter dominance resulted in a third-place finish.
However, it was the Champions League where Leipzig really captured attention, as Nagelsmann became the youngest manager to reach the semi-finals. Leipzig topped their group with 11 points from six matches, before Nagelsmann outwitted Jose Mourinho’s Spurs and Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid in the knockout stages, before falling to PSG in the last-four.
Nagelsmann may be in the early stages of his managerial career yet he’s already made a telling impact in the managerial arena through his tactical flexibility and innovative methods; he brings fresh ideas to the table and isn’t shy in experimenting with technology. He’s one for the minuscule details while he boasts social capital and buckets of ambition.
“Being young can help (as a manager), Nagelsmann said earlier this year. “You speak the same language as the players. You know Instagram, Facebook. It’s a bit easier to have fun if you’re nearly the same age. You know what the players laugh about. They need to have that feeling that he is a cool, funny guy. I can make my jokes.”
Admittedly, he’s unlikely to win the award this time, but expect his name to be engraved on the honour list in the future.