Julian Nagelsmann should honour his contract at Hoffenheim rather than leave the club for Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, says Ottmar Hitzfeld.
The 30-year-old is regarded as the hottest property in the Bundesliga after guiding them away from relegation in 2015-16, and then securing a fourth-place finish – earning a European berth.
After 15 games of the current campaign Hoffenheim sit sixth in the table, but how long Nagelsmann – who signed a deal until 2021 in June – will remain at Rhein-Neckar-Arena remains the subject of much debate.
With Bayern sacking Carlo Ancelotti in September and Dortmund dismissing Peter Bosz on Sunday, both have installed interim managers – Jupp Heynckes and Peter Stoger respectively – until the end of the season.
Nagelsmann has been touted as replacement at both of Germany’s big two, but Hitzfeld – who has managed both clubs – says he should stay loyal to Hoffenheim for now.
Speaking to Sky, the 68-year-old said: “If someone like that [Nagelsmann] is with Dortmund at the age of 31, then I ask myself: What is he still doing after that? What goals does he still have at 40?”
“Nagelsmann is a good coach, but I think it’s generally important to keep contracts, because you have a lot to thank the club for.”
Could the weekend have gone any better for Pep Guardiola? Victory for his Manchester City side against United on derby day clash is one thing; the sheer good fortune of watching every other team in the top five drop points is something else.
Arsenal were held by Southampton and Liverpool drew with Everton while Chelsea, in the most surprising result since they lost to Crystal Palace, lost to West Ham. City’s lead is now 11 points and it’s not even Christmas. And the worst thing for columns like this? City are so enjoyable to watch, I can’t even find fault with them!
A most odd press conference
Sunday wasn’t a good day for Jurgen Klopp. First he watched his team squander three points in the Merseyside derby, then he made the mistake of appealing for support from the media. “Hands up if you thought that was a penalty?” he asked of Craig Pawson’s decision that led to Wayne Rooney’s penalty equaliser. More than half in the room put their hands up. Klopp spotted a man in an Everton jacket and tried a new approach: “Are you happy with the way your team played?” The supporter grinned and said: “Yeah! Good point, that!” Poor Klopp looked beaten. His only saving grace was that he wasn’t in the room 10 minutes later when Everton manager Sam Allardyce twice claimed to have “mastered” Liverpool. And then there was this.
Mourinho’s derby woe
Jose Mourinho has never had much time for possession stats, but it was still extraordinary to see an away team at Old Trafford dominate Man United the way that City did. Guardiola’s side had 75 percent of the ball in the first half alone and created a stream of chances before scoring, weirdly enough, with two scrappy set pieces. Mourinho found reasons for the reverse — he claimed his side should have had a penalty and there was that extraordinary Ederson double save — but United’s manager has had three transfer windows and over £300 million in spending money. But that excuse is growing old and supporters’ patience with this sort of football will eventually run out.
Defoe still has what it takes
If you’re going to age, age like Jermain Defoe. At 35, the extraordinary pace has dissipated and he moves at normal speeds, but the nose for goal remains pronounced. After what he did against Bournemouth on Saturday, there is no need for goal of the month award in December; Defoe had no right to even know where the Crystal Palace goal was, let alone crash a shot into the back of it from an impossible angle. A touch of Marco van Basten, a touch of Bobby Zamora. That’s the perfect cocktail.
Luka Milivojevic’s penalty for Crystal Palace had been perfect; you can’t take a spot kick better than to absolutely rocket it into the top corner. So quite why Christian Benteke thought it was a good idea to seize the initiative and take the injury-time, potentially match-winning penalty himself is something only he can answer. Especially as he went on to tap it gently to a grateful Asmir Begovic. “Really what he needs to do is to score, otherwise he will be subject to the wrath from his manager, coaches and teammates, because they’ll say really and truly, you shouldn’t have done that,” said Palace boss Roy Hodgson, which by his standards is an absolute roasting.
Hammers hit Chelsea
Where on earth did that come from? West Ham had their moments against Manchester City last weekend, but there was little in that desperate rearguard action to suggest that they could do any better against champions Chelsea. Meanwhile, there has been nothing in Marco Arnautovic’s recent displays to suggest that he had a goal like that in him. But there West Ham were against the champions; Resolute in defence and feisty on the counter. And well done to David Moyes for somehow holding in his cathartic yells of joy until after he’d shaken hands with Antonio Conte and retired to a safe distance.
Relief for Tottenham
Goodness me, Tottenham needed a game like that. Things have been so bad recently that even the visit of Stoke City caused palpitations in the home support, but an attack powered by the excellent Son Heung-Min soon put Mark Hughes’ men down. “This is how we need to play from now,” said Mauricio Pochettino, who might finally be able to enjoy reading the royalty statements from that book without worrying that it’s cursed his team!
A familiar fall guy
You have to feel sorry for Dejan Lovren. When things are going well, he can be a pleasure to watch; he’s good in the air, strong in the tackle and has a nice left foot. But somehow, when things are going wrong, he always seems to be involved. A casual supporter, beyond the range of a television on Sunday, would not have needed to enquire as to the identity of the culprit for Everton’s penalty. You could have said, “It’s Liverpool; someone did something really silly. Who was that someone?” The answer would have been: “Aha! Lovren!” His reputation goes before him.
Newcastle’s defensive failings
For the second week in a row, Newcastle United were undone by defensive errors. Against Chelsea last weekend, the midfield were too slow to protect their back four and they seemed to have learned little from the experience. With the score 2-2 vs. Leicester as full-time approached, Ayoze Perez poked the ball past his own goalkeeper while desperately trying to catch an unmarked Shinji Okazaki. But why wasn’t anyone on the forward in the first place? It must be infuriating for Rafa Benitez, who did at least have the grace not to hide behind ownership issues after the game. Newcastle really have to improve.
Iain Macintosh covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @IainMacintosh.
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