Per a new report by Bild+, Germany national coach Joachim Löw has decided to abolish the “team council” (Mannschaftsrat) on Die Mannschaft, that is, the group of veteran players who served as intermediaries between the coach and team. Before Jerome Boateng, Thomas Müller, and Mats Hummels were axed, the council was comprised of those three together with Toni Kroos and Manuel Neuer. Since last March, only Neuer and Kroos were left. Now Löw has decided to dispense with the council altogether.
National team director Oliver Bierhoff said the decision was made because the idea was no longer suitable for the collective group that’s seen an increased number of younger players for the past two international breaks:
We discussed together with the players the fact that a classic team council in the old sty was no longer appropriate for our interaction with one another. That is also a reflection of the mutual trust and the flat hierarchies experienced on the national team.
Team manager Thomas Beheshti added that the team and staff members have an effective method of separating the players into specific groups for certain talking points on a need-be basis:
We have close and regular communication with the team and sit down together in different combinations by topic, project, and plan.
Having covered the German National team for the better part of the past three years here at Bavarian Football Works, I certainly have seen rather more low (no pun intended) points than high points in recent times surrounding this team. Much like Bayern, it’s clear that Die Mannschaft has been at a crossroads and in somewhat of a transitional phase during the past year following the 2018 World Cup.
Löw’s decision last spring to remove Müller, Hummels, and Boateng from the team made it clear that he and his staff want to focus on bringing in younger players to the squad in a sort of a changing of the guard. For what it’s worth, this shift could have taken place with Müller, Hummels and Boateng still on the squad, but it’s also easy to see why Löw made that decision, although the timing and manner in which he told the trio of players were really poor.
Still, there needs to be leadership in the squad and removing what was left of the “team council” may be a small step backwards. Instead of completely abolishing the council, Löw could have perhaps nominated players to join Neuer and Kroos based on seniority or their total number of caps for the National Team. Perhaps Marco Reus would be a fitting candidate? It was glaringly obvious in the fallout of the 2018 World Cup in the Nations League that the squad lacked leadership, whether that had to do with some of the more senior players severely underperforming, or some of the younger players failing to rise to the occasion.
Regardless, the next phase for Die Mannschaft is absolutely vital with Euro 2020 on the horizon. The next international break falls in the middle of November, when Germany plays its last pair of qualifiers against Belarus and then Northern Ireland. Direct qualification and topping group C should be and really have to be the goal for the remainder of 2019. Hopefully, Low won’t have too many injuries to deal with when next summer roles around. Failing to perform well next summer could very well prove to be the final straw.