Gisdol is a painstakingly meticulous manager with a very high level of professional expertise. That's why head of sport and youth development Bernhard Peters brought him to the club four years ago. Back then, a 39-year-old Gisdol had the difficult task of putting together a brand new U23 squad and getting instant promotion – at that time, TSG were the only Bundesliga side with a fifth-tier reserve team. Playing attractive football was also one of the requirements.
A few months later, it was mission accomplished for Markus Gisdol. The U23s stormed to an early title win thanks to some refreshing, attacking football.
Gisdol began earning his coaching badges the following season and successfully passed the exams in March 2011. Shortly afterwards, the offer came from Hoffenheim's former manager Ralf Rangnick – who was with Schalke 04 at the time – to become his assistant. When Rangnick had to resign as manager and was replaced by Huub Stevens, Gisdol stayed in Gelsenkirchen as an assistant. “Obviously it was exciting to work with young talents like Julian Draxler and Lewis Holtby and world stars like Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Raúl,” he said. “But you can't forget, even they are young guys that need a plan.”
The plan begs the question, “How do we want to play football?” Something that Gisdol, who still enjoys a lot of respect from his former U23-players, hopes to have a good answer for. Aside from their professional opinion of him, the players praised the clear structure that their former manager gave them.
As a player, Gisdol spent time at his home club SC Geislingen among other sides. He was one of many fans watching from the stands for the legendary 2-0 win against Hamburger SV in the German Cup in the 1984/85 season. Other stops along his playing career were 1.FC Pforzheim and SSV Reutlingen. He also managed in Geislingen, as well as VfB Stuttgart U17s, SG Sonnenhof Großaspach and Ulm.
“My contact with Hoffenheim never ceased,” said Gisdol, pleased to be back among the familiar surroundings of TSG. He's someone who not only knows the structure of the club very well, but also helped shape it. He wants to “win back the fans with good, honest football and integrate youth players into the first team. I didn't just help mould the footballing philosophy here at Hoffenheim; it runs through my veins.”
The fight against relegation and the rebuilding of the club begins now. “I learnt a lot in my time at Schalke,” said a reminiscent Markus Gisdol. “But it was always clear to me that I wanted to return to the role of head coach at some point.” That time is now.