After Bayern Munich’s 6-0 walloping of VfL Wolfsburg, right-back and midfielder Joshua Kimmich gave his own candid opinion about the abrupt dismissal of Thomas Müller, Mats Hummels, and Jerome Boateng from the German national team. He was joined by the legendary Franz “der Kaiser” Beckenbauer, who was also in attendance.
If I have to assess that from a player’s perspective, the manner (in which it was done) is not okay. I absolutely understand that the boys are disappointed about it, particularly when you see how old they are.
Kimmich argued that the three players deserved a better sending off: “Thomas has 100 international caps; they deserved a different farewell.” Kimmich indirectly disputed Löw’s justification, namely that the three had to make way for younger players. In doing so, Kimmich — unconsciously? — echoed Niko Kovac’s own comments about Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery when he joined the team this past summer. (Kovac said then, “There are only good and less good players — and both of them are really good, no matter what age they are.”). Kimmich said,
It’s not about young or old but it’s rather about good or bad. None of the three boys is too old to play on the national team.
Kimmich expressed his own surprise that Löw had cut the three and was gladdened by their strong game against Wolfsburg in response:
I myself was surprised. I know the national team from my youth, after all, only with three on it. They have shaped the team in the last ten years, made us world champion.
Now they have shown what they’ve got. I’m always happy when the three of them shine. That was a good reaction!
Beckenbauer misses a human touch
Bayern and Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer — “Der Kaiser” himself — likewise objected to that the abrupt way in which Löw dismissed the three was. In addition to his playing career, Beckenbauer himself led West Germany to World Cup glory — to defeat in the final of 1986 and victory in 1990. He told Bild,
Those are three extremely distinguished players; perhaps one should have been able to find another way. I probably would have done it differently, in a more human way!
A proper farewell came would have been the right framework or something of that kind. But simply telling them they won’t be selected anymore, that’s a bit questionable. This finality is why the players are probably disappointed.
Beckenbauer recalled a similar situation that he himself had faced when he managed the (West) German national team.
In 1986 I also had such a situation before the World Cup. After the preparations, I had to cut four players from the roster. Among them Guido Buchwald. I also managed to do it then — with very personal conversations! The players understood afterward and also agreed. You have to do that in a human way as national coach; such distinguished players have accomplished much too much for that!
Incidentally, Beckenbauer recalled Guido Buchwald to the national team after the 1986 World Cup. Buchwald effectively shut down Diego Maradona in the 1990 World Cup final, winning himself the nickname “Diego” thereafter.
Goretzka and Neuer
Leon Goretzka and Bayern and national team captain Manuel Neuer also gave statements on Löw’s decision. Goretzka stated,
I feel an incredible gratitude for the three, because they have given me incredibly wonderful hours also as a fan of the German national team.
Goretzka said he still gets goosebumps when he thinks about the triumph of 2014.
Neuer, in turn, was diplomatic. The goalkeeper told the press,
One did not necessarily count on that happening this week. The players were accordingly disappointed to be told of such a decision. I of course can understand that. But on the other hand a coach is there to make decisions.
If he is of the opinion that he has to make such a decision, then it was conveyed to the players as such. The coach is responsible for which players are selected for the national team and for what performances are delivered on the pitch.