After the great victories, Domenico Tedesco (36 years old) let a glimpse into his soul. When the 2-1 win over Union Berlin reached the cup final, the Leipzig coach, always in control in public, jumped across the grass like a bouncy ball. After advancing in the Europa League in Bergamo, he hugged all the staff and shouted in their ears: “Yes, that’s great!”
Swabian wants to win two more titles with RB this season and is clearly on his way to the Champions League despite his first defeat in 15 official matches (1:2 on Saturday against Union) – after taking 11th place.
“Domenico and his team played a big role in the second half of the season, which has been very strong so far. We are very happy because he is our coach,” says RB Team Principal Oliver Mintzlaff (46).
Tedesco canceled Herta, and Wolfsburg preferred to bring in Kohfeldt
On the other hand, two other clubs can be sad. Before the 10th round, Leipzig, Hertha and Wolfsburg were only two points apart. A little later, the three clubs were looking for a new coach. First, Tedesco canceled at Hertha BSC and remained in the market. Wolfsburg could have had a chance with him because the coach thinks the club is fundamentally attractive. However, VfL only dealt with him briefly, preferring to have Florian Kohfeldt (39) – and sleep Tedesco. Hertha and Wolfsburg have been playing against relegation ever since. Leipzig put in the second half of the season (32 points out of a possible 42).
For Tedesco, three factors played a role in the commitment in Leipzig: the strong team, the high terms at RB and the very good discussions with the chiefs. His only requirement was that he assembled his crew of assistant coaches himself. There was no bargaining over salary or special bonuses.
Tedesco will earn a maximum annual salary of €2 million at the end of the season, even with titles. For comparison: Julian Nagelsmann (34) earned about three million euros in RB and would have had a high six-figure bonus for titles.
Tedesco has twice the title chance. On Thursday, we face Glasgow Rangers in the Europa League semi-finals. On May 21, the DFB Cup final against Freiburg. Compared to his predecessor Jesse Marsh (48), Tedesco has increased Leipzig’s average score from 1.25 to 2.21 – and that’s not the only reason for the change in mood at the club.
Tedesco: “It is very important for us to have a good atmosphere in and around the team. Respect and appreciation play a key role here. But also open and honest communication.”
In order to create a good atmosphere, one thing is important to Tedesco: eye level. And even literally. When his players are in a meeting, the coach bends over from time to time to avoid speaking. Professionals such as doctors, physiotherapists, and analysts feel that a head coach takes them as seriously as office workers, chefs, or cleaning ladies. This was not always the case with RB. For example, a few weeks after taking office, Tedesco and his aides distributed handwritten Christmas cards to all employees.
For players, there are other things that are more important. After a chaotic period under their predecessors Marsh, Tedesco were again allowed to play in a system in which they felt comfortable, mostly in 3-4-1-2. “I think it’s important to think about the strengths I find in the current team,” says the former Schalke 04 coach.
How grateful the club is for what Tedesco showed after reaching the cup final. The crying cuddle on the lawn didn’t want to end. The contract extension, which runs until 2023, should be just a matter of form. Mintzlaff has already told Tedesco that he wants to work together for the long-term. However, both sides agreed not to discuss contracts during the end of the season. “We are in good and regular contact and we will talk about the new season and the future after season. Now everyone involved is fully focused on achieving our goals,” says Mintzlaff.
During the summer holidays, the topic will then rise quickly – preferably with two addresses in baggage.