In an interview with German outlet Bild (Bild+ edition), Bayern Munich and Germany icon Franz Beckenbauer has spoken in favor of club vice-captain Thomas Müller’s return to the national team.
Germany manager Joachim Löw has come under heavy scrutiny from pundits due to his team’s lackluster performance since the 2018 World Cup catastrophe. The Germans were most recently hammered 6-0 by Spain and Beckenbauer feels that there has been a management problem in the starting XI fielded by Bundestrainer.
Deutschland lacks an on-pitch leader, a player who can direct plays, give instructions and most importantly, push his teammates when things don’t go their way during a game. “There is a management problem on the pitch. You need a leader when things don’t go well,” the 75-year-old told Bild.
Unsurprisingly, he has once again pleaded for a comeback of treble winner Thomas Müller. “Müller would whip the team up, like at Bayern in difficult game phases,” an opinion shared by former midfield-general Bastian Schweinsteiger and many other experts.
Der Raumdeuter isn’t just his club’s vice-captain by title. He is the extension of a coach’s hand, commanding his teammates to find the way around opposition’s defense and cooking up unorthodox yet effective tricks to help them find the back of the net.
Der Kaiser, however, feels that Löw should be entrusted with his personnel decisions, at least until the final international break in the buildup to UEFA Euro 2021. The fixture dates and opponents are yet to be announced by the DFB, but the friendlies are tentatively scheduled to take place in March of 2021.
If Germany continues their run of poor form in the friendlies, the legendary defender says “Jogi has to change course,” i.e. the reinstallation of Müller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels to the national team.
BFW hot take: Joachim Löw’s Thomas Müller snub a blessing in disguise for Bayern Munich
Despite calls from Der Kaiser, Lothar Matthäus, Bastian Schweinsteiger and even current club and national captain Manuel Neuer, I believe Jogi Löw has unintentionally done Die Roten and Müller a big favor by axing him from the national team.
The two have shared great success on the pitch but the 60-year-old’s utilization of his former vice-captain had been perplexing, to say the least. As an attacking midfielder/secondary striker, Der Raumdeuter has been up there with the very best in Europe. Yet, time after time, Löw has opted to push Müller out wide, especially in major competitions like Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018.
Since the 2014 World Cup, Müller has played 37 out of a total 43 games in his secondary positions, i.e. either at right-wing or as a lone-striker. One would argue that the 31-year-old literally won the World Cup playing at right-wing. But football has undergone great evolution since 2014. The “wing” has developed into an area where expertise in 1v1 duels and sheer speed holds immense significance.
Deploying Müller in the wider areas not only renders him ineffective, it also means benching one of Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry, or a pacey inside-forward like Timo Werner.
No doubt, Müller can still put in a top-notch shift under Hansi Flick. However, playing under Flick, a coach who has shown to readjust his tactics according to the players at his disposal, is quite different and much more compatible.
It’s hard to claim that Löw never learned to use a two-time treble winning player properly; after all, the two have a mentor-mentee history of almost nine years. But one thing is clear, the World Cup-winning coach doesn’t trust Müller to play him in his preferred position and that he isn’t ready to vacant a spot by removing someone like Toni Kroos from midfield.
A player as intelligent, experienced, and vocal as Müller would surely bring an unmatched presence to a stagnant Deutschland side. But his reinstatement isn’t the real fix to the problems looming over the national team. Instead, it will only have a negative impact on the 31-year-old’s form.
The ideal scenario for Müller and Boateng would be to focus on achieving another continental success with Flick and Bayern. If Löw gets the boot after Euros, his replacement would surely turn to the big three of excluded players. If not, they will still go down as German football legends in the history books.