Forget age concerns & Bayern Munich bust-up - Julian Nagelsmann could be the perfect Chelsea manager after their year of chaos

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The Blues' new hierarchy once again find themselves on the hunt for a new manager, and one outstanding candidate is already dominating the headlines

Having prematurely pulled the plug on their so-called long-term Graham Potter project, Chelsea co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali find themselves searching for their third manager of the 2022-23 season.

They are planning to interview as many as five potential candidates, including Mauricio Pochettino and Luis Enrique, but one name stands out from the usual rabble of managers linked with each top job: Julian Nagelsmann.

Ironically, the German tactician finds himself out of a job because, among other reasons, Bayern Munich did not want to pass up the opportunity to finally hire former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel. Football, eh.

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Though it has been denied that Chelsea's dismissal of Potter was at least in part motivated by Nagelsmann's sudden and serendipitous availability, that is hard to believe.

While Boehly and Eghbali are said to have some concern over his tender age of 35, the chance to bring in an elite coach who could provide the longevity they crave may prove too good an opportunity to ignore.

But is he really the right fit for the struggling Blues?

  1. An attacking, front-footed style
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    An attacking, front-footed style

    Nagelsmann's reputation burgeoned in Germany before his move to Bayern thanks in no small part to his front-footed, attacking style of play.

    An admirer of Pep Guardiola's methods, he prefers a 4-2-3-1 shape that has brought the best out of a host of forward players in his time as a coach.

    Deploying a possession-based approach and an aggressive counter-press without the ball, the 35-year-old was a serial overachiever as he guided both Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig into the Champions League, reaching the semi-finals with the latter long before they were established regulars in the competition.

    Chelsea play their best football in a 3-4-3 formation that unleashes Reece James as a wing-back, and as luck would have it, Nagelsmann experimented with a back three in the latter days of his Bayern tenure.

    Although he had varying degrees of success, it was in that shape that Die Roten earned a 1-0 win away at Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last-16 first leg - a performance that was hailed as a tactical masterclass.

  2. A skilled man-manager - but not always
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    A skilled man-manager - but not always

    While Nagelsmann's youth is apparently a concern for Chelsea's owners, he has astutely used it to his advantage in the dressing rooms he has graced.

    His closeness in age to the players means he has been seen more as an older brother figure rather than a boss or temperamental father, and he works to ensure he is a disarming and relatable presence.

    A number of players, including imminent Chelsea signing Christopher Nkunku, have taken huge strides forward under his stewardship.

    However, at Bayern Munich he is said to have had less success with that approach, failing to win over and sometimes clashing with the club's senior players, who are more or less the same age as him - most notably Manuel Neuer after he ruthlessly sacked his goalkeeping coach and close friend Toni Tapalovic.

    Chelsea have a much younger, less experienced squad, so he would hope to avoid similar issues at Stamford Bridge.

  3. He's no Mr Nice Guy
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    He's no Mr Nice Guy

    One criticism often levelled at now-former Chelsea manager Potter was that he was simply too nice to command respect and was like a broken record when faced by the media.

    Nagelsmann is the antithesis of that. e has gotten himself into trouble in the past with his barbed press conferences, while also possessing a Mourinho-esque charm.

    GOAL Germany's Jochen Tittmar explains: "In Germany, he always offends with brash statements, whether at press conferences or before and after games on TV. Certainly not every witty statement is a hit, but he is actually very clear in his statements and has always been so.

    "In April 2022, before the match against Borussia Dortmund, he said about the motivation of his team: 'We're not with the volunteer fire department Sud-Giesing (a district of Munich), but with FC Bayern Munich.' The fire department then felt attacked and discredited, so Nagelsmann actually had to apologise and also visited the fire department to rebuild bridges."

    These are actually traits that will appeal to the Chelsea faithful, who never actually warmed to 'nice guy' Potter. The man in the Stamford Bridge dugout seemingly needs to have a nasty edge.

  4. 'Complex' training routines

    'Complex' training routines

    Robert Lewandowski was another player who clashed with Nagelsmann before his eventual departure to Barcelona, and one reason behind that was the coach's training regime.

    "As a coach, Nagelsmann, like Tuchel, is considered a tactics tinkerer who comes up with many complex forms of training," Tittmar adds. "It was said, for example, that Lewandowski's training sessions under Nagelsmann were too complex and he complained about it."

    Once again, Chelsea's more youthful squad is likely to be more malleable and open to change, enabling a tactician who is similarly meticulous to Tuchel to implement his reputedly outside-the-box ideas.

  5. Not necessarily the perfect fit
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    Not necessarily the perfect fit

    While there is clamour for his arrival given his unexpected availability, the actual reasons behind Nagelsmann's abrupt sacking should sound alarm bells for Chelsea's decision-makers and fans alike.

    Bayern were never the all-conquering juggernaut of the Pep Guardiola and Jupp Heynckes eras with Nagelsmann in charge, registering their lowest points tally after 25 games in more than a decade as they toiled for consistency and failed to turn up against so-called lesser opposition - problems that Chelsea themselves have struggled with for almost 18 months.

    Like his potential predecessor at Stamford Bridge, Nagelsmann has too been accused of failing to motivate his squad - partly a result of those aforementioned clashes with senior figures in the setup.

    GOAL understands that the Bayern hierarchy also took a dim view of the coach's ill-fated decision to go on a skiing holiday in the wake of his side's costly defeat to Bayer Leverkusen before the international break, which saw them surrender top spot in the Bundesliga. That would prove to be his final game in charge.

  6. A manager and a club with a point to prove
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    A manager and a club with a point to prove

    Nagelsmann will have been humbled by the abrupt end to what was supposed to be an extended tenure at the Allianz Arena, with the fallout still continuing over how and when the decision was communicated to him.

    Regardless, the consensus seems to be that the Bayern job came simply came too soon for him.

    Tittmar concludes: "He is undoubtedly a good coach for whom Bayern may have come a bit too early. But he comes from near Munich, he grew up there and if you get an offer from there, then you have to take it.

    "He will have learned a lot and won't repeat certain mistakes, he's too smart for that. Especially dealing with the media, the pressure to succeed at such a big club and with a booth full of stars and egos was not easy for him."

    Like Chelsea, Nagelsmann is a wounded animal, and a fresh start with a young squad - leaving behind the big egos and vast experience of Bavaria - could provide him with the perfect platform to get back to what he does best.

    He has previously thrived as an underdog, and while the Blues may have delusions of grandeur after their lavish recent spending, their bottom-half league position reflects that they are nowhere near Bayern's level at present.

    Chelsea have a complex history with outspoken, meticulous tacticians, but those are the characters who seem to extract the best from their players and forge the strongest connection with the supporters. The parallels with Tuchel - arguably the best of the bunch - are undeniable.

    While his age might be a concern now, it also means that he could be the long-term solution that Boehly and Eghbali so clearly crave.