The hair on top may be thinning, but don't let the side parting put you off. Thomas Tuchel is an intelligent man and a coach with a burgeoning reputation in Germany. His Mainz side are flying and it won't be long until Tuchel is in demand. Greg Keane reports.
Thomas Tuchel is currently drawing comparisons with Jose Mourinho in the German media. Not for his team's style of play, or for his ego, but for the way the 37-year-old confidently goes about his business in a self-assured manner.
The Business Administration graduate from the small Bavarian town of Krumbach is the youngest manager in the Bundesliga, having been given the Mainz 05 hot seat at the start of the 2009-10 season after a year long stint as the club's U19 coach.
Mainz’ decision to appoint Tuchel was justified with a 9th place finish last time round - their best finish since the creation of the Bundesliga in 1963. Their 100% record so far in this season's Bundesliga suggests that this brave and inspired appointment by the Mainz board of directors will once again bear fruit.
Last season, Tuchel's Mainz even managed to trump his predecessor and current Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp’s achievements at the club, who, at the time inspired his players to conjure up the impressive feat of successive 11th place finishes in the Bundesliga.
Parallels drawn with Klopp may be more appropriate rather than with 'the Special One'- a comparison which probably sits more comfortably with Tuchel himself- as his easy-going and genuine demeanour remind many of the highly rated BVB coach.
Tuchel had a modest playing career with Stuttgarter Kickers and SSV Ulm 1846, which was cut short at the age of just 24 due to a knee injury before he took over as coach of VfB Stuttgart's U-15 side and then 2.Bungesliga side FC Augsburg as youth co-ordinator.
Some may consider Tuchel fortunate to be fired into the spotlight from such obscurity. The 2008-09 season saw Mainz promoted into the top flight under the guidance of Norwegian coach Jörn Andersen just as Tuchel was being appointed U19 coach of the club.
Bizarrely however, Andersen was sacked a few weeks later, even before the former Frankfurt player had the chance to test himself in the Bundesliga. Mainz failed to impress during pre-season and were surprisingly eliminated from the DFB Pokal after losing their first round match against VfL Luebeck.
Mainz chairman Harald Strutz stated that the targets of Andersen and the club were no longer the same and that Mainz saw no other solution than to fire the Norwegian manager.
Surprisingly to all, Tuchel, who had no managerial experience yet alone top flight pedigree, was handed a 2-year contract on the 3rd August 2009, with the target of keeping Mainz in the division.
"For one thing, it's the amount of media attention," explains Tuchel when asked what the main differences are between working with a youth team and a senior professional side.
"In practical terms, it's the different age structures. At youth level you are working with a very homogeneous group, with an age difference of two years at most. They tend to go through very similar stages of development, as regards their interests and the way they interact with the coach. I think that up to U-21 or U-23 level it is very much a coach's domain, and the coach can have a huge influence on how the players go about their job.
"In a heterogeneous group, where you have 32-year-olds playing alongside 18-year-olds and experience is a far bigger factor, it becomes a players' game, where we input instructions and ideas but also make use of the players' own insights and experience.
"So we're not just giving feedback, we're requesting it from the experienced players as well. That alters the role of the coach accordingly, and that is the biggest change. But without a doubt, you pick up the basic tools of the trade at the football academies."
Tuchel is known to be a fan of the Chilean tactics employed at this year's World Cup finals in South Africa and sets-up his side in a similar manner. Their 3-man interchangeable forward-line has the ability to draw opposition players out of position whilst their exciting approach play has seen most fans in Germany adopt Mainz as their 'second club' (with the exception of Kaiserslautern supporters perhaps).
Mainz' 0-2 defeat of Bundesliga giants Werder Bremen on Saturday was certainly no fluke. Werder struggled to contain their Rhineland-Palatinate visitors, with Mainz constantly catching Bremen on the counter. In truth, the hosts were lucky to have lost by more than two goals.
Yet this impressive victory is not a rogue result for Die Nullfünfer under Tuchel having recorded victories away at Wolfsburg (despite trailing by three goals), Hamburg and notching victories at the Stadion am Bruchweg against Borussia Dortmund all in 2010.
Star player Andre Schürrle is the player grabbing the headlines for Mainz so far this campaign. The 19-year-old German U21 striker has already scored three goals thus far, including the equaliser at Wolfsburg, the second at Bremen and the winner against local rivals Kaiserslautern.
Rising star Schürrle has already agreed to join Bayer Leverkusen next July, for a fee believed to be in the region of €8m- however, it should be noted that this season Schürrle has yet to start a game for his side, coming off the bench on three occasions so far, albeit scoring on every occasion and will unquestionably be missed.
Tuchel gave the youngster his league birth last season and is sure to reap the rewards at least until the end of the current season.
"You can see it very clearly. He's at a stage now where he's learning something new every day, “said Tuchel.
"You do notice that 30-plus games in the Bundesliga have been positive for his development. And there's a different appreciation of his worth within the team as well of course.
"There's a big difference between coming up fresh from the under-19s and starting out in your second year, having made a sustained and important contribution to the team in your first. And that increased recognition within the group of itself lifts you up to a further level. On top of that, you're more relaxed. You don't feel the need to prove yourself every time you're on the ball, as young players often do".
Mainz resilience need not be underestimated however, Ivorian striker Aristide Bance and prolific midfielder Tim Hoogland were both finding the net on a regular basis last season have since departed- Bance moving to Al-Ahli Dubai for €5m whilst Hoogland moving on to Schalke on a free. But with Tuchels’guidance, Mainz - home to one of Germany's largest Carnivals – are hoping to celebrate again soon.
Greg writes regularly for both the BBC and Sky. You can catch his Bundesliga updates right here on IBWM.