Croatian follows Urs Fischer: Union’s new coach Nenad Bjelica relies on discipline

As of: November 26, 2023 9:26 p.m

Nenad Bjelica will be the new head coach of 1. FC Union. Although he is still completely unknown as a coach in Germany, he appeared confident during his introduction. The Croatian relies on discipline and wants to play dominant football.

Dirk Zingler unintentionally summed up what everyone who contributed was probably thinking Unions Press conference to introduce the new coach Nenad Bjelica sat on the podium. “It’s not pleasant, but necessary”said the president, actually referring to the process of changing the coach in the middle of the season.

But he could have easily transferred this short sentence to the 25 minutes in the “Schlosserei” event room in the center of the main stand of the Alte Försterei. Zingler and sports director Oliver Ruhnert appeared visibly exhausted after the eleven-day search for a coach. And Bjelica had to feel that the most successful coach in Union history had been sitting in his chair for the past five years. “It’s not an easy challenge to follow Urs Fischer”admitted the Croatian.

Nenad Bjelica

“It’s not an easy challenge to follow Urs Fischer”

Nenad Bjelica presents himself as self-confident and focused when he is introduced as coach of Union Berlin. The Croatian emphasized that he had experience in the relegation battle – and that he would also fight it successfully in Köpenick.more

Bjelica wants to discipline the team

Fischer was successful and he was loved for it. But that’s not the whole story: the likeable quirkiness of the enthusiastic hobby angler, who himself is on one Champions League-Platz still smiling about the season’s goal of “staying in the league” fit in perfectly Underdog-Image that many Unioners like to claim for themselves.

Urs Fischer was Union and Union was Urs Fischer. But recently that no longer applied to the relationship between coach and team. Fischer himself came to the conclusion that he could no longer reach the players and wanted to leave.

That’s why the human level was paramount when looking for a new coach, as Zingler explained. There are many trainers who are good at training tactical formations. “When it comes to leadership, the wheat is separated from the chaff.”said Zingler.

The Croatian made it very clear what type of leadership to expect from Bjelica. Bjelica expects discipline. He likes players who perform well on the pitch: “Whoever does that will be my friend. Whoever doesn’t will have problems.” According to the club management, the team seems to need this clear line.

Football coach Nenad Bjelica (Source: imago images/Seskim Photo)

Croatian Nenad Bjelica is the new Union coach

Nenad Bjelica is the new coach of 1. FC Union Berlin. The club announced this on Sunday afternoon. The Croatian played in the Bundesliga himself, most recently coached the Turkish first division club Trabzonspor and is now the successor to Urs Fischer.

Coach speaks six languages

When Bjelica played with Austria Wien in the Champions League playoffs against Dinamo Zagreb in 2013, he covered the entire dressing room with newspaper articles. The Croatian press underestimated Austria in the articles, Bjelica wanted to provoke his team and it succeeded: Austria defeated their favored opponents and moved into the group phase. Years later, when Bjelica was coach in Zagreb, he also made history: For the first time in over 40 years, he reached the Champions League round of 16 with Dinamo.

The 52-year-old has proven his quality as a coach and now feels ready for the step into the league, in which he already spent several years as a player for 1. FC Kaiserslautern. Bjelica also speaks six languages ​​fluently: at Union, for example, he can speak Croatian with Josip Juranovic, English with Brenden Aaronson, Italian with Leonardo Bonucci and German with most of the team. This will help him in the one-on-one conversations that Bjelica wants to have with each player.

Union interim coach Marco Grote.  (Image: IMAGO / Beautiful Sports)

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In the first game after Urs Fischer, the new coaching team chose a different approach: more offensive. After the first Bundesliga point since August, the club can now look forward with more optimism. By Till Oppermannmore

Bjelica wants to play dominantly

Also sporty. Whether in Austria, Poland or Croatia: Bjelica’s teams were mostly considered well-organized teams in which the tasks of all players were clearly defined. “Lots of structure”, Ruhnert called it in the introduction round. Union is having big problems this season in particular on this point.

This summer the Berliners tried to develop from a reacting to an active team, for example by having more ball possession. That went wrong. Because the defensive order that characterized Union in recent years was lost. Better communication will be crucial to regain the old strength and convince the team to take a new path. “We want to dominate playfully”says Bjelica. Another statement that you probably wouldn’t have heard from Urs Fischer.

In general, the new guy doesn’t lack self-confidence. In an interview with the Austrian football magazine “Ballesterer” Bjelica once said: “The coach Bjelica would have been thrilled with the player Bjelica.” When asked whether his start to the new job with games against Bayern and Braga wouldn’t be too hard, Bjelica replied on Sunday: “There are three points in it.” If this self-image were to be transferred to the team, Union would have gained a lot after the last few weeks.

Broadcast: rbb24 Abendschau, November 26, 23, 7:30 p.m