… I would resign now
Indications that Joachim Löw could no longer reach the team, worrying voices from the team: Why the national coach should resign – a column by kicker chief reporter Karlheinz Wild.
After extreme emotional experiences, it is usually advisable to cool off the overheated psyche first and to sleep on it for a night so that hasty decisions are not soon followed by regret. The national coach has also prescribed this buffer after the devastating World Cup knockout in Kazan. After finishing fourth in the group behind Sweden, Mexico and South Korea, he wants to sort out his thoughts and feelings first. He took responsibility for this historical embarrassment – nobly and yet naturally for a head coach – immediately after the end and wanted to be the first to question himself.
With this self-contemplation he should clarify the most important topic for a coach, his relationship to the team and to the individual players. If he himself rightly lamented “a certain self-importance before the Mexico game”, he lived this attitude, even after the 0-1 start against Mexico with pictures on the promenade of Sochi.
He was just as cool after the unmasking 2-1 defeat in Austria, the fifth victorious game in a row: Everything will certainly improve by the time the World Cup starts in two weeks’ time. It was a blatant miscalculation. The frequent and long before the kick-off in Russia sent out appeals of the national coach that the world champions of 2014 would have to develop the absolute hunger, the total greed to defend this glorious global title, were not heard; neither were his hard announcements during practice in the preparatory training camp in South Tyrol. There is the fear that as a coach you won’t reach your boys anymore, as they say in football.
It must make a football teacher particularly thoughtful when his players – like after the final whistle against Mexico – talk unsolicited that they were duped by the tactics of the opponent and then found no antidote. Such hints, as pitiful as they sound from the mouth of a professional, clearly go in the direction of the trainer.
If, moreover, national players return from trips to the federal states and say that during this time they are not trained enough to meet their demands, one can still justify such dosed burdens with consideration of the everyday life of the league; but it becomes alarming when young chosen players complain that they had no exchange with the national coach during their stay with the elite and did not know exactly what he wanted from them when they were used.
Fantasylessness with 25 corner kicks
Such examples may be individual, but the three-part overall picture that emerged from this World Cup simply raises doubts about football’s preparation for this tournament. Just an example: Why didn’t this German national team with a total of six world champions in action succeed in putting these playfully limited South Koreans, who in almost every early attack (see Reus and Werner in the initial phase) bolted the ball forward wildly and thus lost, under pressure with collective, structured pressing? Likewise, the automatisms, the coordinated running and passing paths were missing in order to place the ball in front of the opponent’s defensive line so that German players could head straight for the last defensive line. And 25 corners, zero goals say everything about the lack of imagination at these standards.
In 2014 it still worked, Löw and the entire Brazilian delegation conspired to form an indestructible unit – until the final and winning the gold cup. This title stands for itself and forever, every player, every coach remains world champion.
EM 2012 and 2016: Not getting the most out of it
But there were also two European championships in which this national coach did not make the most of his selection: in 2012, in Poland and Ukraine, he misdialled in the semi-final line-up against Italy and thus decisively influenced the 2-1 defeat. In 2016, in France, many players were annoyed by the overall result because they too knew that the World Champion should have been European Champion, as he had entered with the best staff. But again it was only enough for the semi-finals.
And now this end in Russia. Löw will deal with many technical, football specific and personnel questions, as well as personal: about the recent past, about the future that is about to dawn. Does it still make sense for him, and especially for German football and his national team, to continue the DFB’s activities after twelve mostly sunny years? Does he still have the energy for an upcoming major project? Can he still show the necessary verve? Does he feel the natural wear and tear that comes with such a long period? Can he still rely on the unbroken faith of the players? Can he handle the unfamiliar public scepticism? And there’s this one too: To what extent is it accessible for well-intentioned advice? Does it filter out positive conclusions?
The approach to the national team, which has been very accommodating since the summer fairy tale of 2006, is becoming rougher, more critical. Several games without victory will not be approved by a national coach Löw with his reference to a big whole – as it should be also this World Cup – any more benevolently.
Löw can still make his own decision; DFB President Reinhard Grindel, who has extended the contract until 2022 in advance and against any sporting or economic reason, supports him; so far at any rate. So the question of whether a national coach can stop like this after this fierce retirement must ultimately be answered. One thing is certain: he can stop. Nevertheless, winning the 2014 World Cup would be more memorable than the preliminary round disaster of 2018.
So if I were national coach, I would resign now.