It has been a year since we sat down with Lewis Hathaway at the Bayerischer Hof hotel and he’s agreed to meet us on the outskirts of Munich at the Münchener Golf Club to talk about the highs and lows of last season.
Doop is fast becoming one of the most highly rated managers in German football. In his first 3 seasons in charge, the Brit has led 1860 Munich to back-to-back promotions to the Bundesliga & then kept them in the top division, while helping aid the emergence of young players including Dominik Smirnov, Dejan Joveljic and Jannis Raum.
Here the 29-year-old tells us his take on last season, his footballing philosophies, as well as his passion for the game.
We asked how the summer had been.
‘I’ve managed to get a week away with the family but there were a million phone calls. That said, it’s what I’m used to now and when you’re involved with a football club and agents it never stops and even when the calls stop you’ve always got something on your mind about what’s coming next, whether it’s signing players for no money or bringing them in for millions you’ve still got to get a team. That comes with the job.’
You finished last season in 13th, 13 points above Werder Bremen who were relegated – some might say that’s an unlucky number for some, but I’m sure you would have bitten someone’s hand off if they had offered you 13th & Bundesliga security for a second season running?
‘13 eh, maybe I’ll try my luck & ask Bayern Munich if I can have Christian Früchtl on a free!’ Früchtl wears the number 13 and is on loan from city rivals, Bayern. ‘I can’t be disappointed with 13th, but my expectations had been higher. We accumulated 3 points more than the previous season and as a manager that prides himself on progression, it feels like we have stood still, we were 40 points behind Bayern in 2020/21 & we’re 40 points behind Bayern in 2021/22 - we want to close that gap.’
Was there anything that stood out for you this season?
‘Absolutely, we had a great December. I was sure that was our turning point in the season, going unbeaten for a month really had the place buzzing and it was great for Stian (Hopperstad) who really found his feet.’
As always, we followed that question asking about the low points.
‘You can’t see it as a low, we have a saying at the club – if you don’t win, you learn – and that’s what we try to do after every game whether it be through analysis, sports science, training or just old fashioned hard work.’
You mentioned Hopperstad earlier, he came with a hefty price tag (£10.5m), did you expect a return for your money?
‘I think it’s only natural to want a return, but he’s a young lad in a new country and we’d done our due-diligence on him, we knew he would fit in. We like to be thorough when we sign a player and our scouts recommended him highly so Roy Beukenkamp and I went to watch him play against Kongsvinger where he scored and put a real shift in. I then spent a further 5 days in Oslo watching him, Valerenga won twice, Stian scored 3 times with one of them a beautiful strike into the bottom corner from the edge of the box against Molde and it was then that I knew I wanted to see him in an 1860 shirt. He was our number one transfer target so we decided to watch another game, this time against Strømsgodset and we arranged to meet his family as well. Stian scored a brace that night and we wanted to get him signed up there and then his father was his agent so that side of the deal was easy, we left with a pre-contract arranged and I let Michael Scharold arrange the transfer between clubs. I’ve been delighted with him this season, a 16-goal return from a 20-year-old is fantastic and we are looking forward to see what he can do next season.’
How hard is it to build a squad by bringing in players who will, potentially, replace the ones that got you promoted in the first place?
‘It’s slightly more simple for us. We played the loan market extremely well in those years coming up so we’ve got a really small squad so the players that came in were doing so to be first team players. The players that have been with us from the start have done great and they will earn the right to be part of this squad like everyone else. We’ve also got some really talented boys knocking on the door which makes my job easier because anyone coming in to the club will find out that there will soon be competition for places.’
Staying in the Bundesliga came with an injection of cash, did the money burn a hole in your pocket?
‘Money’s helpful, for sure, but it doesn’t guarantee you anything. Look at what we done coming up through the leagues, we hardly spent a Deutsche Mark and we done alright. We spent a lot on Stian so we had to play the market well; Troy, Cesc & Sami came in on free transfers and their experience and professionalism done more for our group than if we’d spent £100m. I was really grateful for their time and I wish them well for the future.’ - Troy Deeney left for Lokomotiv Moscow, Cesc Fabregas is a free agent & Sami Khedira retired.
As a highly rated manager you are often linked with, what some would call, bigger jobs. Do you expect to be at 1860 this time next year?
‘I’m not arrogant enough to give you guarantees about my employment, but I think we’re doing a good job, the President is happy and I’ve got a contract until 2024. It’s nice to hear your name linked with some of those clubs, it means you are doing well, but why would I want to leave? I’m happy here, my family are settled whereas those clubs are unsettled and managerless. Our academy is doing a great job and I’m privileged to be in a position where I’m seeing those kids from my first year here training with the first team. It would take something life changing to tear me away from this football club.
We know managers don’t like to make predictions but have you set any targets for next season?
‘Progression, as long as we collect more points that than the previous two seasons, I know we’ll be safe, but I’d like us to close the gap between the top so somewhere around 45 points would be a good season for us. We have got our business done early again and I’m hoping that the additions will complement the group well, I’m excited for the season to start.’