German football has hit rock bottom. The second end of a World Cup preliminary round, the third disappointing tournament in a row. Germany is no longer a tournament team. It takes fundamental change to get out of this low.
There is no such thing as “keep it up”. Bold decisions and an honest, hard analysis in the German Football Association (DFB) are required. Because German football has been lying to itself for too long – and it has to stop. He's not as good as he thinks he is. The problems run deep. It's about the reputation and the future of a once great football nation. Germany is far from world class.
With all due respect to the opponents: To be eliminated from the group consisting of Spain, Japan and Costa Rica is a disgrace. Hansi Flick's comments after the 4-2 win against Costa Rica on Thursday evening in Qatar give a deep insight. The national coach said that changes in the training of young players are now important. It's about the "basics" where nations like Spain are ahead of Germany, says Flick.
He rules out resignation. That is understandable and correct: when he took office a good year ago, Flick fully committed to his task and responsibility. He is also concerned with the home European Championship in 2024. Flick also made mistakes at the World Cup, for example not letting Niclas Füllkrug play from the start in the last group game. But he is still the right national coach. Because he can develop young players and form a team around young star Jamal Musiala. Because many people can identify with him.
The decision-makers in the association must assume responsibility. Some have been in office since 2006, led by national team director Oliver Bierhoff. The fact that Joshua Kimmich said after the World Cup in Qatar that one was already used to unrest around the team speaks volumes. In 2018 there was a debate about Mesut Özil and his Erdogan photos, now the captain's armband discussion.
The DFB was poorly prepared for the dispute with the world association Fifa and cannot manage the crisis. There have not been any changes in key positions for years: Scouting has been largely the same for a long time, and national team sporting director Yoti Chatzialexiou has been with the association for almost 20 years. Bierhoff has held important positions since 2004. Especially with the "One Love" bandage, he acted anything but clever and professional with the association president Bernd Neuendorf - and thus caused unrest around the team and its sporting preparation.
Bierhoff has announced that he will face up to his responsibility. His claim is different, he said on Friday night regarding the bitter tournament record of the past few years. With Flick he wants to lead Germany back to the top of the world - so far this self-imposed mission has failed.
For years, German football and thus the national team have been missing strikers, “real nines”. In addition, there is a lack of full-backs and the general quality of defending. Flick rightly criticizes this. The clubs are also in demand here; However, the association must provide the common thread as well as concepts and ideas.
The DFB has to question whether it is in the right place in terms of personnel and strategy. Those responsible must act consistently. The home EM 2024 is a huge opportunity. German football must not miss them. Drawing the right conclusions now and putting personal vanity aside - that's what Bierhoff and Neuendorf are measured against.