In hindsight, Joachim Löw’s decision to remove Thomas Müller, along with Jérôme Boateng and Mats Hummels from the German National Team was unwise. Müller has been in an outstanding form this season for Bayern Munich and has proven why he’s still one of the world’s most intelligent and creative footballers. The Raumdeuter has scored 11 goals and has provided 24 assists in a total of 43 appearances across all competitions. His 20 Bundesliga assists is a league best for a single season, breaking the record previously held by Kevin De Bruyne while he played for VfL Wolfsburg.
Speaking on Sport1’s Sunday “Dopplepass,” Die Mannschaft team manager Oliver Bierhoff explained some of the rationale behind the decision to remove Müller, Boateng, and Hummels from the fray after the 2018 World Cup in Russia (Tz). Not to mention, Löw made the decision at an awkward time, right before a massive clash for Bayern against Liverpool in the Champions League knockout stages last year.
Retrospectively, Bierhoff acknowledges that they could’ve handled that situation far better and that they certainly let a large amount of top class talent go. He admits that a lot of the problems stemmed from a conflict between players of the World Cup squad: “We should have formulated that better. We had top guys. At the 2018 World Cup, however, we had conflict between the young and old players. As a player you sense whether you have the coach’s trust. So it was a logical and strong action, which has paid off in my opinion.”
Müller, Boateng, and Hummels were a part of Löw’s internal clique of the leadership “council” for the 2018 World Cup squad, but there were young players in the squad (e.g. Timo Werner, Julian Brandt, Julian Draxler, and Joshua Kimmich) who were ready to make an impact on the world’s stage. Nothing really went according to the plan during their World Cup excursions and a complete sub-par outing in the UEFA Nations League only heightened tensions, but the DFB remained adamant on keeping Löw in charge of the National Team.
Bierhoff said it was clear that Löw was trying to move in a direction to start making room for the younger wave of players to help mold and shape the squad for the future, especially after such a disappointing tournament in Russia: “Friction and energy are necessary, and we also need such guys. At the current moment, I think Jogi would say that we have taken the step with the young players. Let’s keep going. It was clear at the time that you had to make room.”
Bierhoff went on to say that personnel decisions don’t always come down to choosing the best players on the team, but rather the players that best fit the collective setup of the team. With the emphasis on wanting to harness the younger crop of players in the German squad, this is part of the rationale for still not having Müller involved with Die Mannscaft: “As coach, I’d start the person who is most important for the team. That doesn’t mean that the best one always has to play. Sometimes, there are team setups in which I have two non-best players play because they are better in the overall setup.”