Felix Magath, looking for glory with a fourth Bundesliga club, got off to the perfect start as coach of Schalke 04 as German international Kevin Kuranyi struck twice to earn a 2-1 opening win at Nuremberg.
Kuranyi was on target either side of halftime to give the Royal Blues from the industrial Ruhr Valley the points, with Slovakian Marek Mintal netting a late consolation for their southern opponents.
Magath led unfashionable Wolsfsburg to the title last season and then switched to take on a new challenge, having already lifted two championships — and German Cups — with Bayern Munich after an earlier League Cup success with Stuttgart.
As a player, the son of a Puerto Rican soldier in the US army, won the European Cup with Hamburg, but he was not happy with his side’s showing, despite the win.
“What we showed late on after the Nuremberg goal was not worthy of the Bundesliga,” he said after the hosts threatened to overhaul the deficit in the closing stages.
“I don’t know if you were watching the game or playing cards during it,” Magath sniped at a reporter afterwards, who unwisely questioned his bad mood.
His former Bayern Munich side are already two points adrift following their 1-1 draw at Hoffenheim.
The Bavarians, coached by experienced Dutchman Louis Van Gaal, had to soak up ferocious early pressure from a Hoffenheim team that spent the first half of last season, their debut year in the top flight, in the title race, before falling away.
Missing the unfit quartet of Franck Ribery, Luca Toni, Miroslav Klose and Martin Demichelis, Bayern did not make it a 58th birthday to remember for Van Gaal as they came off worst in the opening stages.
Josip Simunic thought he had headed Hoffenheim in front on 10 minutes, but the referee ruled his effort had not crossed the line. Instead, against the run of play, Bayern went in front on 25 minutes when Danijel Pranjic fed Ivica Olic for a neat close range finish.
Hoffenheim got back on terms four minutes before the break when Nigerian Chinedu Obasi fired a sweeping left-footer past keeper Michael Rensing.
“We forgot how to play in the first half,” Van Gaal said. “We had chances, but didn’t bury them.”
He noted that last year’s title went begging by two points. Club president Franz Beckenbauer said during the encounter that “we’re missing Ribery.”
Magath’s departure has not affected Wolfsburg, as the club from the home of Volkswagen began their title defense with an impressive 2-0 home win over Stuttgart on Friday.
Elsewhere, Werder Bremen, who have lost last season’s star man Diego to Juventus, slid to a demoralizing 3-2 home loss to Eintracht Frankfurt, while Bayer Leverkusen had to settle for a 2-2 draw at promoted Mainz.
Former European champions Borussia Dortmund needed an own-goal to defeat Cologne 1-0.