Julian Nagelsmann wants Hoffenheim to challenge for 2018/19 Bundesliga title
The 31-year-old has emerged as one of Germany’s most talented coaches in recent years, guiding TSG to fourth and third place in consecutive Bundesliga seasons. Having announced his switch to Leipzig back in June, Nagelsmann is now fully focused on making his swansong with Die Kraichgauer as memorable as possible.
“I’m actually very ambitious this year, perhaps two or three per cent more,” Nagelsmann confirmed, from Hoffenheim’s pre-season training camp in Austria. “I want to prove that I chose the right and proper way to communicate my switch.”
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When making his announcement – over a year in advance – Nagelsmann insisted that it was “important to establish clarity in my relations”, adding: “I owe it to the club and employees to ensure that this historic season does not become dominated by speculation about my future”.
He dismissed any suggestion that his impending move could have an impact on results, especially when he faces his future employers on Matchdays 6 and 23.
“I know the change won’t be to blame for losing games, although the media will write that,” he said. “But I have not felt for a single second that anything is different with the team. I’m looking forward to this year and I want to finish it as successfully as possible. I owe this club a great deal.”
Hoffenheim will be battling on three fronts in 2018/19, and Nagelsmann is keen to see them challenging the all-powerful Bayern Munich for domestic supremacy. His side have an opportunity to hit the ground running as they travel to face the reigning six-time champions in the Bundesliga curtain-raiser on Matchday 1.
“I want this last year to be even more successful than the others,” he reiterated. “I always strive for maximum achievement, and maximum achievement would be winning the Bundesliga title. It will be tough, but I think all 18 teams would love to be champions if they had the chance.”
TSG will also get a first taste of the UEFA Champions League group stage, having lost to eventual runners-up Liverpool in last year’s play-offs. And Nagelsmann is expecting much better in the DFB Cup, where his side have slumped to second-round defeats in the past two seasons.
“We’re going to compete more ambitiously in the Cup, because it gets on my nerves, that we’ve been so bad in recent years,” he declared. “I want to look back on Matchday 34 and be able to say ‘you’ve done a good job, the strategy was spot on.'”
Hoffenheim and Nagelsmann’s first test is fast approaching – a DFB Cup first-round meeting with third-tier Kaiserslautern on Saturday 18 August. And then it’ll be off to Bayern’s Allianz Arena on Friday 24 August, to see whether TSG really can set the tone for a memorable campaign.