Former Germany star player and coach Rudi Völler has accepted the position of manager of the German national team. The decision is presumably the outcome of the meeting of the DFB task force, of which Völler is a member, scheduled for Thursday, January 19th. Völler’s name emerged as a candidate last week, when it became clear that the DFB could not afford a transfer fee to release Hertha sporting director Fredi Bobic from his current contract.
The DFB announced on Twitter that Völler will officially take office on February 1st:
ℹ️ Rudi Völler will take over as the new director of the men's national team on 1st February 2023. pic.twitter.com/3rUzbUt6we— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) January 19, 2023
Völler’s appointment will mark a significant restructuring of the DFB itself. According to RTL/ntv, Völler will work exclusively with the national team itself, as Germany prepares to host Euro 2024. The much wider-ranging responsibilities of dismissed team manager Oliver Bierhoff will be redistributed across several positions.
Völler succeeds Bierhoff after three very disappointing tournaments: group-stage exits in the 2018 World Cup in Russia and most recently in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and a decisive 2-0 knockout to England in the Round of 16 of Euro 2020. The relationship between the German national team and its fans has been strained for years.
“Die Mannschaft,” as Jogi Löw and Bierhoff rebranded the team after the triumph of 2014, has been unable to shake a reputation for aloofness, distance, and arrogance and has been dogged by controversies of its own making. Völler now must repair the damage done by a string of scandals: from the debacle surrounding Mesut Özil’s treatment by the DFB and his incendiary resignation, to Löw and Bierhoff’s ham-handed half-measures to revitalize the team and integrate younger players, and even to the team’s “Human Rights” protest—which won sympathy as long as people believed it was as spontaneous as it seemed, and angered many fans when it was unmasked as an elaborate photo-op planned in advance by the DFB for a documentary.
Völler will work alongside former Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick, whose luster from winning the Champions League had worn off even before Germany’s anemic performance in Qatar. It will be interesting to see how Völler shapes the team. Among other unresolved questions are the status of Thomas Müller, who seemed ready to retire but then left the question open, and the goalkeeper question, now that Manuel Neuer suffered a broken leg that throws into serious question his readiness for Euro 2024.
Völler has his work cut out for him.