Can FC Augsburg coach Manuel Baum lay down the roots for a flourishing career?

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There is a line between learning from your mistakes and dwelling on them to the extent that you become overly preoccupied. At some point we must all accept the reality of errors and move on. How efficiently we do this determines how likely we are to repeat them. This is true for us all but is an important component of a sports person’s development. It is something that FC Augsburg coach Manuel Baum understands very well.

“A striker who does not score and ponders his mistakes for a long time… The player must realise that he can not change the defeat afterwards and concentrate on the next shots. I am therefore a big fan of sports psychology.”

Beyond seeking to improve players through the mind,  Baum is a bonafide laptop trainer who makes good use of analytics.His philosophy seems to be based upon individual player development.This isn’t to say that he does not employ well thought out tactical systems, otherwise his team could not have the third meanest defense in the Bundesliga. But when it comes to coaching and improving players there is no one size fits all approach for Manuel Baum. Time out must be taken with each player in order to make them better.

“There is no master plan that works with any player. Therefore: individualise… if possible with professional support.”

Communication with players as often as possible is another important part of Baum’s approach, even during post game warm downs. He sees this as time well spent talking to players about the game and their own performance. For a club such as Augsburg which, while a well run outfit, is one of the Bundesliga’s smaller clubs and requires a coach that can develop existing players since opportunities to improve the squad via the transfer market are limited.

He is happy to borrow coaching techniques from other sports. One of his former players at Unterhaching, Jonas Hummels, told SPOX in January that he used methods similar to basketball such as: 

“Fixed visual and auditive commands. Everyone knew exactly what to do.”

Manuel Baum is a native of the city of Landshut in Lower Bavaria, a relatively short burn down the A 92 from Munich. As a youngster he was a goalkeeper at 1860 Munich. He never made the grade and became a schoolteacher and a football and basketball coach. In 2011 he joined Heiko Herrlich (now at Leverkusen) at Unterhaching as his assistant and impressed. When Herrlich moved on, Baum became co-trainer wit Claus Schromm before taking the reins on his own in 2014.

His spell as head coach lasted for only 8 games before he moved to the FC Augsburg youth team. From there came the rise to the Under 23s and before he knew it, at the age of 37, he is the head coach of the first team following the departure of Dirk Schuster in December 2016. Such a rapid rise to the top is in part thanks to the equally rapid changes in the labour market of his profession. However, his ability to command the respect of his players and willingness to embrace modern methods has made him an attractive choice. The question now is, can he stay at the top and go further? Hummels also says of his former coach that there is much of the school teacher in his approach:

“You can tell by his way that he worked as a teacher. He wants to exercise control, always hold the bridles in his hand and go through his thing. He leaves the players rather less autonomy.”

This begs the question: will he be able to work as effectively with international class players who are at the top of their game and will have their own ideas and indeed proven methods about what works for them and what does not work. If the Bavarian coach has ambitions beyond Augsburg he may need to reflect on his methods lest they backfire on him and he lose more precocious dressing rooms.

In any event, should Augsburg finish the season as strongly as they have started it then he will be watched with envious eyes from clubs elsewhere in Germany and Europe looking for the next great coach. Lack of experience in European competition may be a barrier for big clubs. However, Thomas Tuchel’s modest record in that regard did not stop Borussia Dortmund from extending the former Mainz coach an invitation. Not that Borussia would be looking but other clubs with similar ambitions should not be deterred by a lack of pedigree in that area. A move to Bayern is unlikely largely because Julia Nagelsmann’s installation as their new coach seems pre-ordained.

It is worth pointing out that Baum’s mother-in-law lives in Barcelona and he and his family like to holiday there. A job at the Camp Nou seems fanciful but it is not unreasonable to speculate that Baum would be open to opportunities beyond the Bundesliga. It is also worth point out that one of his predecessors, Markus Weinzierl, was also tipped for greatness and is now out of work after an ill fated season at Schalke. Perhaps Manuel Baum should choose his next move with great care.

Additional quotes from 1x1Sport.