Hans-Dieter Flick is no longer the head coach of the German national team. Hardly a surprise for anyone, given the team's continued disastrous run in terms of results. On Saturday, the Germans suffered a defeat against Japan — 1:4. Yes, the very same opponent that humiliated them in Qatar, preventing their playoff appearance. But during the 2022 World Cup, the score was at least 1:2, and that loss seemed like a fluke. However, conceding four goals raises a lot of questions.
Germany's streak of poor results
It's crucial to note that this year is a preparatory one for Germany ahead of the home European Championship in 2024. But here are their results before the Japan game:
- Germany — Peru — 2:0;
- Germany — Belgium — 2:3;
- Germany — Ukraine — 3:3 (they were 1:3 down with ten minutes to go);
- Poland — Germany — 1:0;
- Germany — Colombia — 0:2.
Only one victory in March, plus a draw against Ukraine. The subsequent matches were all defeats — certainly not what the fans expected. Moreover, bookmakers had clearly rated the team higher in all these games compared to their opponents. If you're interested in betting on soccer matches, consider checking out uzbukmeker.com, which offers detailed information about the best bookmakers.
It's not as if Flick had been trying out many new players, searching for the right combinations and so on. No, Germany was fielding its strongest or near-strongest team. Yet they only managed three shots on target against Japan. A disaster.
Here's how Rudi Völler, the team's sporting director, described the situation: "We are all still in shock. A 1:4 defeat is disgraceful. We all need to take a hard look at ourselves. Hans is devastated. We need to calm down now." It seemed there was still some hope in those words. But that hope died on Sunday.
Flick's dismissal makes sense, but the choice of an interim coach is interesting
Right after the Japan game, the coach was once again asked about a possible resignation. But this time, the question was whether he felt he was the right coach for the team nine months before the start of Euro 2024. Flick was straightforward, even though his record of four wins in 17 games as the national team's coach must have weighed heavily on him.
"We do everything possible to prepare the team perfectly," said Flick. "I think we're good at it. Yes, I am the right coach for the German national team. I still feel suited for this job. But I also know football is dynamic. So, I can't predict what will happen next."
It's amusing that Flick emphasized his confidence but also hinted at the unpredictability of the sport. He was even allowed to conduct a training session on Sunday morning. Presumably, during this period, a meeting of the German federation's leaders took place. By evening, they announced Flick's dismissal.
Rudi Völler, the very person who vividly described the national team's situation after the Japan game, was appointed as the interim coach. He will prepare the team for the upcoming match against France. Afterwards, the federation is likely to confirm another specialist for the position. This is the second time the 63-year-old Völler has stepped into this role, with the first being in 2000. Back then, it was also considered a temporary arrangement until the federation could find a new coach. However, that process stretched out for four years.
What about the film that also influenced Flick's future? And who will be his full replacement?
A few days ago, Amazon released a three-part documentary about the recent period of the German national team. The company's main condition for shooting was no external interference. As a result, everyone was able to see the real causes of the events that led to the failure. It is believed that this was one of the reasons why Flick was dismissed.
In the film, many believe, the coach's true qualities were revealed, some of which became meme-worthy. For instance, in Qatar, he showed the team motivational videos featuring geese, urging them to learn from their unity and cohesion. He bombarded players with a myriad of other clichéd phrases, all with a completely impassive face.
The documentary also touched on debates about the "OneLove" bandana and many other distractions that hindered focus on the game. Most of the time, Flick appeared not as someone who could unite the team under a single idea.
And all this came after his treble with Bayern Munich, where Flick had cultivated a reputation as the perfect psychologist and motivator who never got in anyone's way. His invitation to the national team was seen as a win for the federation: luring away a coach from the country's top club is a notable feat. However, it seems Flick's methods resonated with the 30+ generation, but they didn't quite match the needs of younger players, who apparently didn't take his ideas seriously.
But the main question is, what comes next? The German association has to choose a new head coach. Of course, unless Föller shows something exceptional in the match against France and is offered to stay on. The main candidate is Julian Nagelsmann, who is currently jobless after being dismissed from Bayern Munich. Concerns include his youth, lack of experience with national teams, and an ongoing contract. After all, Bayern continues to pay Julian's salary due to a significant one-time penalty. So, this issue will also need to be resolved.
The DFB doesn't have any other clear candidates. And yes, this is happening just nine months before the home Euro. So, it seems that Flick's dismissal is unlikely to immediately solve the national team's crisis.