Berlin, April 1 (IANS) With only two months to go to the delayed Euro 2020, the euphoric mood around the German national team has gone up in smoke.
A devastating 1-2 home defeat against footballing minnows North Macedonia in a 2022 World Cup qualifier ruthlessly exposed the failure of national coach Joachim Low and team manager Oliver Bierhoff, reports Xinhua.
Apart from a striker problem, 61-year-old Low is suffering with a wobbly defence and a general lack of leadership on the pitch.
The defeat in the team’s last competitive game before meeting football giants France and Portugal in their Euro 2020 group revealed that Low can’t continue to ignore the experienced trio Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels and Toni Kroos.
While Low has been omitting Muller and Hummels for over a year now, Kroos has had to face accusations of slowing the team’s game down.
Ahead of picking his final tournament squad, Low has had to admit that his plans to rejuvenate his team have failed.
Currently, the 2014 World Cup winners seem to have lost contact with the leading sides in Europe. Low’s attempt to trigger motivation by announcing his departure this summer, ending his 15 years in charge, hasn’t paid off.
Instead of considering the load of games on his regular squad’s shoulders, Low insisted on appointing his regular starting XI, rather than giving some of his tired stalwarts a break.
Not giving Chelsea’s Timo Werner the chance to gain confidence has increased the striker’s crisis. The poor form of Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, and Kai Havertz has revealed a problem up front.
Changing the defensive tactics to a three-man line-up, instead of four, caused confusion, and Low failed to see his team’s demands.
The German coach is now forced to select an emergency squad to avoid painful setbacks, such the one at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia when they exited at the group stage.
Not only is Low under fire, but so is the association’s influential director Bierhoff. Having to choose a successor on the German bench, the former striker seems to have been forced to consider a significant change in the association’s talent development section.
As for the man to follow Low, all signs point to former Leipzig and Hoffenheim coach and managing director Ralf Rangnick.
German football seems to need a re-launch of its academy system. Rangnick, 62, has regularly proved he is one of Europe’s best developers of players.
Bierhoff will meet Rangnick for detailed talks shortly, but is said to fear losing influence when appointing such a demanding candidate.
Rumours speak of possible in-house solutions such as under-21 coach Stefan Kuntz or Bayern helmsman Hansi Flick. Both solutions would secure Bierhoff’s influence.
Low has to rethink his plans as he hopes he can leave on a high at his last tournament.
Sacking Low in advance of Euro 2020 seems no option. Everybody has to start working together. Expectations of winning the title are at rock bottom among the fans.