When the news broke that Germany coach Joachim Löw decided to part ways with Bayern Munich stalwarts Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels, and Jerome Boateng, the narrative of “A New Beginning” for Die Mannschaft was officially initiated.
The undercurrent of “out with the old and in with the new” was fully expected from Löw, though. After all, how better to preserve your own job than to dictate the story that it was the players all along who were the problem?
But even so, the issue with Löw hasn’t been his natural inclination for self-preservation, but his outright dedication to the arrogance that has plagued his decision-making and strategy since carrying Germany’s “B team” to a Confederations Cup title in 2017.
Maybe that was the worst thing that ever happened to the mastermind of the German national team. Maybe that is when he started believing that he was the reason the team was achieving remarkable success. Maybe that is when he thought it was his brilliance that powered his players to be so great.
Maybe that’s when he thought it was all about him.
Fade to black
The assertion that Müller, Boateng, and Hummels are no longer national team caliber players is as farcical as it is wrong. On any team at any level, there is a prime value placed on experience.
At 29, Müller is a vital component to the German roster, not only for his on-field talent, but for the leadership he has brought to the national team. A consummate teammate, Müller has been the lifeblood of Die Mannschaft since 2010. Creative and flexible, Müller is a not only productive on the pitch, but also an experienced mentor to the younger generation. In addition to those qualities, he was also a threat to Löw’s control. Why risk having anyone around who might command more respect than the coach himself?
As for Hummels and Boateng, their experience and value — even as reserves — could be considered inherently important to the next generation of German center backs. Not to mention that there are not exactly a bevy of capable replacements just waiting to jump into the starting XI.
The elimination of the squad’s three strongest veteran voices only further enhances Löw’s own power over the younger, more inexperienced core that will carry the squad forward. It doesn’t appear to matter now, though. The international careers of Müller, Hummels, and Boateng are likely over without any of the fanfare or positive thoughts that should accompany an exit for such legendary players.
For whom the bell tolls
Low’s biggest mistake is not being willing to look at himself. The proverbial “man in the mirror” has not not come under any real fire as the DFB has backed its coach. It was not Müller who decided to play Leon Goretzka on the wing in what was essentially a knockout game. It was not Hummels who rested Marco Reus for the opening game of the World Cup. against a fierce team from Mexico. And it was certainly not Boateng who decided to ride the tired and ineffective legs of Sami Khedira in Russia. It was Löw... it was always Löw.
Nevermind the poor strategies and worse decision-making that have plagued Die Mannschaft since late 2017 when the initial signs of Löw’s faults began to show. Ignore the lack of response to Löw’s leadership from the players on the roster. Whatever you do, just keep Löw safe is the mantra that is being put forth by the DFB. Die Mannschaft’s coach has become the Teflon Don of global football. Gone are the days of expecting excellence. Arrived have the days of shifting blame and hoping to find the magic from an unbelievable run that happened four-and-a-half years ago.
Congrats Jogi. You may have survived the 2018 debacle, but you are running out of scapegoats. Eventually failure always finds its mark and unless your new strategy produces hardware, the Grim Reaper of coaching casualties will be eyeing up your arrogance once and for all.