Acid Test: TSG Hoffenheim’s Pioneering Change Faces Major Challenges

After a little upheaval in the summer of 2022, the real upheaval at TSG Hoffenheim only followed in the summer of 2023. So far, sports director Alexander Rosen’s ideas have worked well. The acid test will follow after the international break at the latest.

His pioneering change is being put to the test: Hoffenheim’s sports director Alexander Rosen. IMAGO/Sven Simon

The Kraichgauers had twelve points from six games a year ago. Just like now. Then there was a 0-0 draw against SC Freiburg on match day seven and from then on the crash followed – piquantly initiated by a 1-2 draw against their next opponent, Werder Bremen, which only lasted briefly with two wins in the league and DFB Cup against Schalke, who were hardly competitive at the time, was interrupted and led to extreme relegation. At the moment there is little or nothing to indicate a renewed slump.

However, after the guest appearance on the Weser on Saturday evening (6.30 p.m., LIVE! at and the international break with Eintracht Frankfurt (H), VfB Stuttgart (A) and Bayer Leverkusen (H), other calibers await. Eintracht has overtaken TSG in relevant metrics such as team budget in recent years. Bayer is considered Bayern’s number one challenger at the moment and VfB is riding the wave of euphoria after an even better start than Hoffenheim’s.

The big upheavals were missing last year

In short: TSG is facing the acid test of whether the conclusions drawn from the weak previous season were the right ones. That’s exactly how it was a year ago. In 2022, Alexander Rosen, then director of professional football, said after missing out on the European ranks due to a weak 2021/22 season finale: “There must be reasons why the players are leaving us. I definitely have some questions. The players should question yourself. You have to question whether they are the right players, whether they have the physical quality. There are open questions that urgently need to be clarified critically, I say that very clearly. That’s not enough for me.”

However, there were no major changes other than in the coaching position – Andre Breitenreiter took over for Sebastian Hoeneß. At best, small adjustments in defense with Ozan Kabak and Stanley Nsoki, although the latter’s expensive 12 million euro transfer hasn’t really worked out so far, and in midfield with Grischa Prömel. Incidentally, it was with his serious injury in the fall that the crisis really gained momentum, which supports the theory that at least the squad planning was basically in the right direction. There were no personnel changes in the senior medical department. Only with the physiotherapists did something happen, although the general question arises – of course not only at TSG – how much this department really has to say in the end.

Personnel castling among those responsible and in the squad

The upheaval in the summer of 2023, on the other hand, was huge. It began with Rosen’s appointment as managing director of sports, which lasted for weeks, after the separation from finance director Frank Briel. In addition, a new man, Pirmin Schwegler, joined in January – the Swiss was promoted from head of the licensed player area to head of professional football in July. In addition, Max Vollmar (head of the licensed player department) and Bastian Huber (technical director) climbed in the hierarchy. And, according to reports, the personnel castling has not yet been completed.

However, the realignment was most blatant in the squad, which lost a top performer in Christoph Baumgartner. But with Mergim Berisha, Attila Szalai, Anton Stach and Marius Bülter, four seasoned professionals came along, as well as Wout Weghorst on loan. Based purely on the summer transfer period, TSG spent more money than it earned for the first time since 2018 – although the January sale of Georginio Rutter to Leeds United for 28 million euros clearly turns this ratio in favor of the Kraichgauers if you include it as an anticipation. The calculation is working out so far, the squad seems more balanced and has a very broad, qualitatively appealing roster. The hot autumn is now the real acid test for the real change.

2023-10-04 19:53:49
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