Have you guys been listening to American Fiasco? It’s a phenomenal podcast hosted by Roger Bennett of Men in Blazers that has become one of my favorites. It’s about the 1998 U.S. Men’s National Team that was made up of star players and young guns. A myriad of problems surrounded their campaign at the World Cup in France. The players and coach couldn’t get along; lineups and tactics became a mess; the team was uninspired. Eventually they lost to Iran, and the hopes of soccer in America died for a few years.
This Germany team looks a lot like that, and at the center of it all is Jogi Löw.
Of course, the fault is not completely on Löw. The players on the field are supposed to get results, and if they can’t do that, they deserve their fair share of the blame. However, at the end of the day, control of the locker room, tactics, and lineup are all in the hands of the manager. In these aspects, Löw has shown that he may not deserve the job any longer.
Here are three reasons why it is time for Löw to go.
Locker room lost
It seemed like there was a new headline every single day regarding locker room unrest.
It started with the Mesut Özil and Ilkay Gündogan incident taking pictures with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The incident left many German fans scratching their heads or shaking with anger, and some even shouted racial slurs at Gündogan during a tuneup match against Austria.
When the World Cup came around, there were reports of factions in the locker room. Sport Bild (via the Guardian) claimed there was tension between a group of players they dubbed the “bling-bling gang,” consisting of Mesut Özil, Sami Khedira, Jerome Boateng, and Julian Draxler, and another faction made up of career-focused Bavarians including Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, and Toni Kroos.
These may just be rumors; however, the players constantly talked about locker room issues to the press, and Löw was unable to take care of it. His failure to do this led to a stir among the public, and the team was never able to overcome the pressure.
My first reaction to Germany’s lineup against South Korea when it was announced? “Oh good god — what is he doing?”
After awful performances against Mexico, Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil were dropped for the game against Sweden. Yet, despite decent performances by Gündogan and Draxler, Löw took both of them off for Khedira and Özil.
Then, there was also the issue of starting Leon Goretzka, a central attacking midfielder, on the right wing. The move threw the team’s chemistry off; despite possessing the ball for most of the match (what a surprise!), Germany could not create good chances. Even when Löw brought on Mario Gomez and Müller, they created chances that were easily taken care of by South Korea’s goalkeeper.
Finally, there is the issue with Julian Brandt. Many people will complain that Leroy Sané should have been selected for the team, and it’s understandable. When Löw was asked about it, he said it was a decision between Sane and Brandt. Brandt barely saw any playing time in this tournament, despite showing moments of brilliance and creating good chances in the few minutes he received. Löw’s decision to start Goretzka on the wing as opposed to Brandt is highly questionable. It was clear Brandt had more to offer, and I don’t understand why he was not chosen more often.
The lineup Löw chose looked like one that he might have used if Germany had already clinched a spot in the next round. The team did not look like it was set up to win, and for that, the blame falls entirely on Jogi Löw.
Germany had a good run
Joachim Löw took over from Jürgen Klinsmann after placing third in the 2006 World Cup. Immediately, he began to implement the DFB’s plan to win a World Cup soon. He embraced the concepts they set in place and worked hard to win the cup, at last succeeding in 2014. After another third-place finish at Euro 2016, the DFB decided to extend his contract to 2018 and then to 2022.
Löw’s experimentation at the Confederations Cup was important for debuting a new crop of young German talent, but I don’t think Löw is the man to lead them. It was clear at this World Cup that Löw could not bring himself to give starting spots to younger players over those who helped him win in Brazil. Sure, he didn’t bring Andre Schürrle and Mario Götze; but he probably should have left Khedira and Gomez home as well. He could have easily replaced them with younger talent like Emre Can, Leroy Sane, or Julian Weigl.
Granted, there are some things out of his control. Germany has not produced a world-beating striker since Miroslav Klose, and that is a major cause for concern. As we saw this World Cup, Timo Werner may not be best suited as a number 9. Still, when it comes to the overall team selection, style and pace of play, and tactics, Joachim Löw is solely responsible. Germany’s style has been found out. It was being exposed at the club level for a long time.
Now, after going home this early for the first time since 1938, it’s time to make a fresh start for Euro 2020. That starts with finding a new manager. It’s time to say “Danke” for everything that Joachim Löw has accomplished, but it’s also time for the DFB and the German people to say “auf Wiedersehen” and move on.