THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

6 June ~ The majority of the 2010 German World Cup squad is under the age of 25. There are just two central midfielders, one never far away from suspension and the other an injury-prone rookie – plus half a dozen wide players all capable of nutmegging an opponent but not any good at defending. A forward line led by three strikers who all promised great things in 2007 and are now incapable of hitting the target. It's obvious who will get the blame for this. Fingers are already being pointed at Joachim "Jogi" Löw, erstwhile assistant of Jürgen Klinsmann, promoted to manager on the strength of the showing at the 2006 World Cup. Open criticism is still muted, but is expected to burst out with a vengeance come late June.

Jogi Löw won't be able to count on an abundance of goodwill. Neither the national media nor the football establishment are taken with him. He doesn't even seem to get on with his fellow managers – Löw's stream of dismissive comments lamenting a sub-standard level of coaching in the Bundesliga probably hasn't helped. Particularly in light of the fact, that (prior to his involvement with the national side) Löw himself hadn't had an exceptional managerial career, and basically owed his gig as Klinsmann's assistant to the lucky circumstance that the two of them happened to be on the same coaching diploma course.

Nobody would deny that Löw is a very astute tactician. Indeed, he has often proven to be more than capable of coming up with a well thought-out game plan. Unfortunately, Löw has shown himself unable to work round his own preconceived notions if events on the pitch proceed differently than he expected. Anyone who had believed that Löw knows what he is doing found Euro 2008 a rude awakening. When reality (or, at least Croatia, Turkey and Spain) refused to abide by Löw's plans, he was cut a confused and perplexed figure, albeit one who managed to ride his luck Domenech-style as far as the final.

Since then, two things have happened. Löw had a major fallout with skipper Michael Ballack and other experienced players and, at the same time, became ever more convinced that future success can only be achieved if raw young talent is shaped into his preferred system. In fairness, Löw openly admits that he doesn't really care about minor details like the chosen players' league form or the team's recent results – everything is supposed to suddenly come out well in the World Cup itself. Not that everybody trusts him. After two months of trying to negotiate a contract extension, the German Football Federation decided to cancel any further talks, leaking to the media that Löw's demands were so excessively greedy that he wasn't worth keeping. Consequently, Löw will be a free agent after the World Cup.

Alas, even such a strong vote of no confidence didn't induce Löw to do the decent thing. But nevertheless, there might be a tiny glimmer of hope. After all, it's not that our youngsters lack talent, maybe everything will suddenly click into place and the team will waltz away with the trophy. Jogi will be then be able to sort out contract offers from all the top European clubs while Germany will be in mourning for not having recognised and properly rewarded the coach's genius. Right now it's safe to say that the vast majority predict that South Africa will turn out to be a case of the emperor's new clothes. Peter Schimkat

Comments (7)
Comment by klinsmann_1 2010-06-06 15:07:56

Addition: He also excluded the highest Budnesliga scorer Kevin Kuranyi from the wc squad because he was mad at him for walking out early in a game dating all the way back in 07. Is he coaching for his ego or the Nationalmannschaft? I do praise him however for bringing a new form of attacking strategy to the team and better style.

Comment by es_vee 2010-06-06 15:27:10

I think this article is slightly mischevious - downplaying Germany's chances is a classic ploy from the German media and public, but from what I hear speaking to people there is a quiet confidence that a semi final spot is definitely achievable and possibly more. In terms of natural talent, this squad would seem to have more than any side Germany has sent to a major tournament since 1998. Whilst the loss of Ballack is a blow, the emergence of Schweinsteiger as a class act in the same role nullifies it to a large extent

Comment by Max Payne 2010-06-07 00:34:59

Come on. I could go down to Melbourne Backpackers, find 23 Germans and they'd still have a better chance than England of winning it. They said this after the 5-1 in Germany and that side still made the final. You never write off the Germans. Never.

Comment by danielmak 2010-06-07 05:54:55

It's hard to criticize him when Podolski and Klose continue to do the business for the national team. Both seemed to do just fine before arriving at Bayern, so maybe the problem isn't their form but they way they are (were in Podoloski's case) used. Gomez, on the other hand, has had a rough time and it's surprising that he is still in the side when his club form has dipped (or at least when he actually got any playing time). I also don't see why excluding Kuranyi is a problem. It's not like Kuranyi walked out when he was a 18 year-old kid; Kuranyi was an experienced player by that point. I wouldn't see this as being stubborn or Low being an egomaniac; rather, Low is saying that the team is most important and acting like a snotty brat reflects qualities that are antithetical to maintaining a team.

Comment by Hoboken Utd. 2010-06-07 15:12:25

The problem with Loew's Germany is that he never finds the right mix: He neglects great young(ish) players like Dortmund's Mats Hummels or Stoke's Robert Huth (both central defenders that could be used in other positions and played very decent seasons in their respective leagues), and takes crap old players like Berlin's Arne Friedrich or Munich's Miroslav Klose (Louis van Gaal certainly has his reasons to field Klose not at all or just for a couple of minutes when the team is 3:0 up already). The few older players he should have taken to SA, however, are left at home (namely Werder Bremen's Torsten Frings who has played the season of his life and would have been the much needed defensive pillar in midfield, or indeed Schalke's Kuranyi, the Bundesliga's top scorer). If it hadn't been for a lot of injuries among his regular players, Loew's team would not be as young as it seems now.
And one more thing: In contrast to the omnipresent myth of Ballack's departure being a "big blow", his absence will make Germany a better and harder-to-beat side that will play faster and more skilful football. If the likes of Cacau and Marin aren't left to rot on the bench, that is ....

Comment by klinsmann_1 2010-06-07 18:15:06

Hoboken United I completely agree my friend. Huth should be called back he had an amazing season and frings should have NEVER been neglected. Low has made some horrible decisions and I just hope Germany will be able to cope with his decisions.

Comment by diem 2010-07-01 13:44:42

I wonder what the authour and commenters are thinking now?

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