After bowing out at the group stages for the first time since 1938, Germany’s humiliation at the World Cup now means that change is needed, starting with head coach Joachim Löw.
Just one week ago, we were praising the perseverance shown by Germany to overcome Sweden in the 95th minute with a sublime Toni Kroos free-kick, giving Löw some hope of qualification.
But failing to better Sweden’s result in the final group games, the 58-year-old took blame for Germany’s exit to South Korea: “The responsibility is mine,” as the reigning champions were undone with goals from Young-gwon Kim and Heung-min Son in stoppage time.
Now, fans have called for Germany’s management to step down. It’s quite the situation given Löw’s recent contract renewal until 2022 just a month prior to the World Cup kicking off. It’s clear that DFB bosses had backed the Baden-Württemberg born coach to succeed, having reached the semi-final stages of every major tournament since his appointment in 2006.
But even with the scenes that provided fans with hope against Sweden, it was the same stale performance that greeted the Germans against a South Korea side that had nothing but respect to play for.
Thus, a few questions have arisen from this World Cup, one of those being who are the leaders?
For a side that has produced the likes of Michael Ballack and Philipp Lahm, both of whom have been leaders of Germany on and off the pitch, there seems to be a lot of finger pointing and not enough doing under the captaincy of Manuel Neuer.
Of course, there’s no denying the leadership abilities he possesses given his Bayern Munich stature, but Germany need leaders across the pitch, something they once had but no longer have.
During their World Cup winning campaign in Brazil, Germany had Neuer, Lahm, Per Mertesacker – off the pitch at least, Jerome Boateng, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Müller and Miroslav Klose.
Now, it’s hard to pinpoint just who they can rely on to motivate and drive the team forward.
Boateng, who seems to have a greater interest in fashion than playing for Germany, had a dismal World Cup campaign given the talent we know he possesses. Following their opening loss to Mexico, Mats Hummels was extremely critical of his teammates.
“If seven or eight players attack, then it’s clear the offensive force is greater than the defensive stability. That’s what I often talk about internally, to no affect. Our cover wasn’t good, too often it was just Jerome and I at the back,” Hummels told ZDF.
A situation that hadn’t been rectified by Löw or the team in their other two Group F fixtures, fans begged that someone takes control on the pitch which is something didn’t happen.
Following their elimination, Hummels said: “Our last outstanding performance was in the fall of 2017. This is a very, very bitter evening.”
Flat performances, no cutting edge and no real sense of urgency. Surely this all stems down to Löw.
The 58-year-old was adamant on sticking to a 4-2-3-1 formation, the same plan they had been using since South Africa in 2010. A formation that’s well drilled in Germany, it’s something that Löw was insistent on using, but it also meant he didn’t have a Plan B when things went wrong.
During the Confederations Cup, we saw Löw guide Germany to the title in relatively easy fashion with a completely different squad that went to Russia.
He tested 4-3-3 and 3-5-2 both which yielded positive results but again when these were called for in Russia, Löw stuck to his trustworthy 4-2-3-1 with players that are perhaps coming to the end of their international career.
And that’s why, unfortunately, it’s time for Löw and Germany to part ways. They’re in need of a ‘modern’ coach with different methods. Julian Nagelsmann would have been the ideal candidate but with an agreement to join RB Leipzig in 2019, it’s unlikely we’ll see him coach the national team for some time.
Jürgen Klinsmann stepped down as Germany head coach just days after finishing third at the 2006 World Cup and so it wouldn’t be unheard of if there was a statement in the coming week.
Ralph Hasenhüttl would be the perfect candidate and that’s why this needs sorting now. The start of a new era for the German national team.