03 January, 2011

Hoffeinheim Coach Quits

Not much play on this one, so I figure we need to look at it a little further.

Over the weekend, Hoffeinheim coach Ralf Rangnick, resigned after 4 years at the club which saw them promoted from Regional Sued to the Bundesliga, quite a feat. It wasn't so much that Hoffenheim was sitting mid table, 8th, with 25 pts (a mere 18pts out of first and 3 places out of a European Cup berth) at the half way point, but rather the escalation of disagreements between Rangnick and owner/billionaire Dietmar Hopp.

Hopp bought the regional team and after a string of 1st place performances that saw Hoffenheim promoted several times in a 10 yr span, money was splashed to expand the stadium to seat ~30,000... in a town of ~9000.

Yeah, a little crazy, but when you see that Hoffenheim seems to have changed strategies from being a giant killer to that of feeder club, Rangnick's resignation is understandable. It would have been silly of him to think that they would become one of THE powers in the Bundesliga, and Hopp, for whatever reason, is now looking to recoup some of his investments by selling off some promising young talent.

That said, Gustavo's contract was up at the end of the season.
''It is as clear as day that Gustavo will join Bayern next summer,'' Hopp told the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung newspaper. ''It would be unfair of us, even immoral, to ruin his career (by not letting him move).''
Which brings us to the specifics of Rangnick's resignation. Luis Gustavo had been with Hoffenheim since 2007. Since then, the 23yr old Brazilian defender had logged 99 appearances with the club and was a solid stalwart along the back line. Then Bayern came calling. Hopp takes the cash (estimated around $17mil), and a player on loan through the end of the season.

Marco Pezzaiuoli, the former assistant under Rangnick, now takes over for Hoffenheim. Pezzaiouli has never been a head coach before, so a poor showing in the 2nd half of the season could see him get the boot as well.

So why should you care about the team? Remember Gyau (promising US center mid)? He's on contract with Hoffenheim, currently playing with their U19 squad and so far has logged a goal and ~900 minutes in 12 matches since signing with them this last July. Also, they have US future starter Renken on their payroll as well, although he has not featured with the youth team yet.

Depending on the way Pezzaiouli takes the team, we could see Gyau and Renken promoted over the next few years to first squad and sold once bigger boys come calling. We'll keep an eye on this for you and let you know how things evolve.

Below is the press conference for the Luis transfer, in German, but you can hear the resignation in Rangnick's voice to losing Luis, and the ultimate message of not competing for 1st place.


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