Marco Kurz is the new Hoffenheim coach

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim have a new coach and his name is Marco Kurz. The 43 year old has been out of work since being sacked by FC Kaiserslautern in March, earlier in the year.

Despite getting the chop, Kurz’ reputation as a decent coach remained intact after having promoted FCK to the first division in 2010 then getting them to seventh in the table after their return to the top flight. The loss of top players (particularly Srdjan Lakic) without sufficient reinvestment lead to the club’s relegation. Firing Kurz was was a throw of the dice in the hope of saving themselves and not truly reflective of Kurz’ abilities.

As is often the case when coaches are appointed mid season, the Stuttgart born former defender will not be joining his new club under ideal circumstances. Hoffenheim are third from bottom of the table despite starting the season, under the departed Markus Babbel, confident of Europa League qualification.

Not everyone shared their optimism when the club chose to move goalkeeper Tom Starke and central defender Isaac Vorsah to Bayern Munich and Red Bull Salzburg, respectively. Tim Wiese was brought into replace Starke from Werder Bremen but this moved backfired and the German international keeper has struggled in front of a defence that has let in forty one goals this season.

Hoffenheim’s form has been truly wretched. The last point they notched on the board was against Fortuna Düsseldorf on 10th November after which followed a run of six defeats. The players have not tasted victory since 3rd November against Schalke.  The  However, the dreadful car accident in September of young midfielder Boris Vukčević of which he has only recently awoken has to be considered in mitigation.

Nevertheless, there is a smattering of relatively exciting talent in the shape of Roberto Firmino, Takashi Usami, Sven Schipplock, Joselu and Kevin Volland. Stalwarts from that 2009 Winter Champions are still at the club in the shape of Sejad Salihović, Andreas Beck and Tobia Weiss.

On balance there is enough there for the incoming Kurz to be optimistic that he can keep Hoffenheim in the division, particularly since the bottom two teams seem unlikely to mount a convincing survival bid. If Kurz can stop the rot then, at the very least, a relegation play off with the third placed team in the second division is on the cards.

In the longer term, much will depend on Kurz relationship with software billionaire Dietmar Hopp, the de facto owner of the club. Hopp has put the kitchen sink into getting his beloved village club into the Bundesliga. While he is not made of money it is not out of the question that there may be opportunities for Kurz to bring players in and develop the squad, assuming that they can survive the season.

If the trio of Hopp, Kurz and sporting director, Andreas Müller can bring stability to the club then Kurz may be allowed to take Hoffenheim a good deal further than he would have done at Kaiserslautern.

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