- Hoffenheim got through three coaches in 2015/16.
- Nagelsmann picks up 23 points from 14 games to keep them up.
- Kramaric proves a hit following winter arrival.
Although TSG 1899 Hoffenheim's final finish may be regarded as a disappointment, their Houdini-style escape from relegation under a young and ambitious coach has left a sweet taste in the mouth.
Season in a nutshell
Hoffenheim entered the season with aspirations of finally ending their wait for a first-ever European finish. Markus Gisdol was the man expected to guide them into the top six, but with just seven points from the first ten games of the season, that dream soon vanished. Huub Stevens was drafted in to replace Gisdol, but his identical record of seven points from ten games was also insufficient.
Only when the Bundesliga's youngest-ever coach Julian Nagelsmann arrived to replace the Dutchman did things start to take a turn for the better, just in time. With 23 points from 14 games, Nagelsmann saved them from a relegation which had looked a real possibility in February, bringing the very best out of an under-performing squad to deservedly secure safety.
Top three games
MD22: TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 3-2 1. FSV Mainz 05
It was Hoffenheim's first home game under Nagelsmann, and their first win under their third coach of the season. The three points and the excellent performance laid the foundations for a sensational recovery, and gave the fans some much-needed optimism.
MD26: VfB Stuttgart 5-1 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
A heavy defeat but one which also marked a turning point in Hoffenheim's season. Nagelsmann learned the lessons from this game and, with nothing more to lose, moulded his side's attacking style of play better to suit their opponents.
MD32: TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 2-1 FC Ingolstadt 04
A fifth home win in six games under Nagelsmann meant Hoffenheim were practically safe with two games of the season remaining, a late goal from Nadiem Amiri proving decisive.
The winter signing of Andrej Kramaric was a masterstroke. Drafted in from eventual Premier League champions Leicester City FC, he scored five goals and set up a further four, while he was always heavily involved in Hoffenheim's attack-minded brand of exciting football. His presence also aided the development of Amiri (four goals/four assists), who has himself developed into one of the league's most exciting prospects.
What is next?
If Hoffenheim are able to keep hold of the likes of Amiri and Kramaric, that long-held ambition of European football could well be a realistic target in the coming seasons. The momentum gained towards the end of the season needs to be taken with them into the new campaign, when Nagelsmann will also be able to work hard on further imprinting his image on the squad in pre-season.
For our bundesliga.com reporter Tobias Schächter, the first press conference and presentation of Nagelsmann as head coach was particularly impressive. Despite his youth, he oozed the confidence of an experienced campaigner and soon made it clear what he wanted, and how he was going to get it. True to his words on that first day under the spotlight, he delivered not only the exciting football he strives for, but also the results to go with it.