'More psychologist than coach' - Stuttgart's American boss Matarazzo on battling relegation and the influence of Maradona and Jackson

Matarazzo Stuttgart 2022Getty

Stuttgart boss Pellegrino Matarazzo revealed his approach to steering his club away from the relegation fight as he discussed how he has been influenced by the likes of Diego Maradona and Phil Jackson.

Matarazzo's Stuttgart sit 17th in the Bundesliga, four points from 16th-place Hertha Berlin for the relegation play-off spot and 15th-place Augsburg for that final safety spot.

But the American manager has full confidence his club can avoid the drop as he backed his team to survive the season in the Bundesliga.

Matarazzo on relegation

When asked why the club seems so confident in avoiding the drop, the New Jersey-born coach said he believes that he believes the players are merely in need of a little bit of confidence.

“At the moment you have to be more of a psychologist than a football coach," he told reporters. "In Hoffenheim the fear of losing set in and we got passive.

"It’s about rebuilding confidence, through positive reinforcements, through successful instances in training that you try to build into the sessions. It’s hard work, but everybody is on board, everybody is working hard.

"All we need is a win and then we can start rolling. I am 100 percent confident that we can stay in the league and gain enough points to get in the relegation playoff at least or even get above the line. I see us reaching our goals at the moment.”

Biggest influences

Matarazzo also reflected on his own upbringing in New Jersey, which paved the way for him to play at Columbia University before forging his own path in Germany as a player and coach.

But it was Italian soccer, not German soccer, that was the mainstay in the Matarazzo house as his family is made up of Napoli fans.

“I would call it the Matarazzo fan club," he said. "The big family fan club of Napoli.

"At the beginning we used to watch the Serie A every Sunday morning on a little TV in my dad’s bedroom, then the TV got a bit bigger. We watched all the highlights and all the goals at 1 pm and celebrated every Maradona goal.

"After a big family meal we went to the park. I was Maradona, my dad was Careca. And we lived that fantasy and that passion. Soccer and Napoli were definitely a big part of us growing up

Matarazzo went on to say that Roberto Baggio, Tab Ramos, Marcelo Balboa and Tony Meola were also among his childhood heroes, but one of his biggest coaching idols comes from outside the world of soccer.

It's former Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson that Matarazzo looks to, with the famous "Zen Master" proving a big influence for his player management.

“It would be nice to meet Phil Jackson at some point in time," the Stuttgart boss said.

"I have read his books and I am very fascinated by his approach. I would look forward to having the chance to meet him in the future.”

Further reading