Freddie Ljungberg (l.) in conversation with Wolfsburg's Jakub Blaszczykowski. - © © imago / Christian Schroedter
Freddie Ljungberg (l.) in conversation with Wolfsburg's Jakub Blaszczykowski. - © © imago / Christian Schroedter
Bundesliga

Wolfsburg's Freddie Ljungberg the latest young coach to get his Bundesliga chance

The appointment of Freddie Ljungberg as Wolfsburg's new assistant has underlined a growing tendency in the Bundesliga: giving young coaches a chance to test themselves on the big stage.

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Much has been made this season of the Bundesliga's focus on developing young players, with blossoming talents like Timo Werner and Ousmane Dembele lighting up Germany's top flight on a weekly basis. Yet it is not only on the pitch that youngsters are being given an opportunity to shine.

Watch: Wolfsburg's Borja Mayoral discusses what his team have to do to stay up this season:

Dugouts are becoming increasingly populated with hungry young coaches who are determined to show they have what it takes to succeed in one of the most competitive leagues in world football.

Ljungberg is simply the latest man to enter the fray. The 39-year-old Swede – a two-time English Premier League winner with Arsenal – is preparing to step things up in a big way, trading his role as an U15s coach with the Gunners for the No. 2 job alongside Andries Jonker at the Volkswagen Arena.   

- © imago / Christian Schroedter

A look at the current crop of Bundesliga managers (see below) is ample evidence that age – and by extension, experience – is by no means the most important factor when it comes to selecting a manager. Half of the league's 18 coaches are aged 45 or below, and six of them are enjoying their first stint in charge of a top-flight club.

Hoffenheim's Julian Nagelsmann is the obvious statistical anomaly. At 29, he is younger than many active players, but that hasn't stopped him taking his side from the relegation battle to fourth place in just over a year. After going through the entire Hinrunde unbeaten, Hoffenheim look well-placed to secure a historic first qualification for Europe this season. The club management must be delighted that their shock decision to promote 28-year-old Nagelsmann to head coach in February 2016 has yielded such spectacular results.  

Other clubs have shown similar willingness to put their faith in relatively inexperienced managers. Consider Thomas Tuchel, who had spent a year as Mainz's youth team coach when he was given the top job in 2009, just before his 36th birthday.

Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt are also reaping the benefits of putting their faith in former players Pal Dardai and Niko Kovac, who were teammates together at Hertha for many years.

After hanging up his boots in the capital in 2012, Dardai became part of Hertha's coaching set-up, working his way up to first team manager by 2015. Having flirted with relegation the previous year, Hertha were as high as third midway through Dardai's first season in charge, and eventually finished seventh. This year they are fifth, and very much in the thick of the European battle.

A similar story for Eintracht. Former Croatia captain Kovac has breathed new life into the club since being drafted in late last season, and ensuring Frankfurt's Bundesliga survival with a relegation play-off victory over Nürnberg. The Eagles are soaring once again, with European football very much in their sights and a DFB Cup semi-final to come at the end of April.

- © gettyimages

That defeat to Bremen was the end of the line for Wolves coach Valerien Ismael, who was dismissed over the weekend. It is now up to Jonker and Ljungberg to get the 2009 champions back on track, starting with Saturday's trip to Mainz on Matchday 23

The two men are certainly preparing to jump in at the deep end. Jonker will be acting as head coach, rather than interim coach, for the first time in his Bundesliga career, while Ljungberg is about to exchange the relative anonymity of coaching U15s for the high-profile assistant role at a major European club.

But they shouldn't worry. They're in good company.

Andy Smith

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It's only a number! The current Bundesliga coaches, from youngest to oldest...

29: Julian Nagelsmann (Hoffenheim)                          

37: Manuel Baum (Augsburg)

37: Alexander Nouri (Werder Bremen)

40: Torsten Frings (Darmstadt)

40: Pal Dardai (Hertha Berlin)

42: Markus Weinzierl (Schalke)

43: Thomas Tuchel (Dortmund)

43: Maik Walpurgis (Ingolstadt)

45: Niko Kovac (Frankfurt)

47: Markus Gisdol (Hamburg)

49: Roger Schmidt (Bayer Leverkusen)

49: Ralph Hasenhüttl (RB Leipzig)

49: Martin Schmidt (Mainz)

50: Peter Stöger (Cologne)

51: Christian Streich (Freiburg)

52: Dieter Hecking (Gladbach)

54: Andries Jonker (Wolfsburg)

57: Carlo Ancelotti (Bayern Munich)

Average age of coaches in Europe's Top 5 leagues

Bundesliga: 45.22 years

La Liga: 49.15 years

Premier League: 50.45 years

Serie A: 51.05 years

Ligue 1: 51.5 years

- © gettyimages / Maja Hitij