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Chelsea manager search: Luis Enrique out; Sarri, Allegri in; Nagelsmann non-denial denial

The Rumorville Roundabout spins up again

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1899 Hoffenheim Training Session and Press Conference Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

“Round and round she goes,
And where she stops nobody knows”

Yes, it’s time for another ride on the Rumorville Roundabout, the thrill ride that is Chelsea’s months-long search for the man to replace (presumed) outgoing boss Antonio Conte. Today we have a story about one man out, two men still in, plus a new and exciting candidate who makes news by denying that he’s news. Because that’s how it works on this ride.

First up we have Jonathan Northcroft, who writes in The Sunday Times what we already think we know. Namely, that Luis Enrique has gone from favorite to banned-from-the amusement-park after making outlandish wage demands and generally scaring the board off with his inflexible approach to things. Apparently Chelsea have no appetite for either, what with a payoff probably looming for Conte and after a year of listening to him chirp about transfer business.

Definitely still on the roundabout are two more riders we’re familiar with. One is Napoli’s Maurizio Sarri, who didn’t do his cause any harm with an attack-minded defeat of Juventus on Sunday, edging within a point of the Serie A lead. The other is the losing coach in that same match, the coach who bunkered-in, tried to play it safe and lost, Max Allegri.

But we also have a new rider on board! Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for the exciting, innovative and flavor-of-the-day 30-year-old (30!?) Julian Nagelsmann, who saved Hoffenheim from near-certain relegation last season and has them on the edge of Champions League football this season. Nagelsmann made the mistake of answering a question about rumored interest from Arsenal and Chelsea in the blandest way possible, thus officially becoming a candidate in the eyes of the media.

“I don’t think so, no. These are just rumours.

“I focus on myself and my team the focus is on nothing else. I’m not annoyed by the discussions. I focus on myself and my team and want to make a good game here today.”

-Julian Nagelsmann; source SKY Sports Germany via Daily Mail

1899 Hoffenheim Training Session and Press Conference Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

That’s the famous non-denial denial hard at work in Hoffenheim. It won’t keep the press at bay, though, because there’s a lot to like about the man. Nagelsmann is young, attack-minded and his models are Barcelona and Wenger’s Arsenal.

“I like to attack the opponents near their own goal because your own way to the goal is not as long if you get the ball higher up.”

The German media are tracking the “Baby Mourinho” — it’s unclear how that nickname follows the supposed influences — with a Nagelsmann table, which tallies the points he’s won since taking over Hoffenheim in February of last year. He only trails the two powerhouses, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. In terms of innovation, he uses multiple cameras and even drones to videotape practices and he replays the video on the spot, using a giant videowall at the halfway line. He also employs Footbonaut to improve touch and control. And he’s flexible, even letting Hoffenheim’s team captain lead players in setting their goals for the season.

He’s young and in his first job as a senior team manager, but in a lot of ways he fits what Chelsea are rumored to be interested in. Earlier this year he was the favorite to take over Bayern Munich, but their interest cooled and they eventually hired Niko Kovac instead. Nagelsmann is still available.

So welcome aboard the Rumorville Roundabout, Baby Mourinho! We hope you enjoy the ride.

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