Ralph Hassenhuttl knows Timo Werner well, perhaps more than any other coach, in fact.
“Football is very intense and fast. That, in turn, suits Timo: with his speed, he’s a brutal weapon in the right team,” he said earlier this year.
Hassenhuttl worked very closely with Werner at RB Leipzig. It was the German’s time at Red Bull Arena that saw him emerge as one of Europe’s most potent forwards, and ultimately secured him a big-money move to Chelsea.
“He sometimes needs a shoulder to lean on, or a little more encouragement, but what I’ve always liked about him is that he scores goals that nobody else scores.
“Give him a bit of space and it’s hard to stop him. He has so many qualities that will always put him above others.”
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Werner’s talents are well known across Europe by now, but it was Hassenhuttl’s system that harnessed those gifts and channelled them to help produce the player we see before us.
At the heart of that identity was a 4-4-2 with a double pivot in central midfield, sometimes referred to as ‘an empty bucket’. This could change quickly, however, and become a 4-2-2-2 or a 4-2-4 formation depending on the state of the game or the team’s intent.
When comparing the Austrian with a Premier League manager, Jurgen Klopp is the most obvious candidate – the pair did their coaching badges together.
Hassenhuttl’s side in Leipzig was closer to what Klopp produced with Borussia Dortmund than Liverpool, however, and there are lessons that Lampard could take to help Werner adjust.
In possession, one of the main strategies Hassenhuttl employed was to play direct balls into the channels as this allowed his side to move up the field quickly. In the event, the ball was lost the team would try and engineer counter-pressing opportunities – just like Klopp’s Dortmund.