Not just in Joachim Löw’s case, but generally, when you achieve something like he did after being in the job for so long, I’d prefer to see you step down then. He’d been in charge since 2006. You’ve achieved greatness with winning the World Cup.
After that, everyone gets a bit more comfortable and that’s not good.
If you look at the previous teams defending the World Cup, Spain in 2014 and Italy in 2010, they got knocked out in the groups. There’s a trend. So, I was surprised that no one said “Thank you very much Jogi, it’s amazing what you’ve done for us and but it’s time to move on.”
He’s taken some drastic measures recently with Hummels, Müller and Boateng. For me, you want your best players available. They may not be at top right now, but in three months they could be again.
To shut the door completely like he did is really strange.
You never know, he could have a big game in the summer in qualifying, two centre-halves injuries, another out-of-form, who are you going to call?
The coach can say, at the moment, we have others who are playing better and you can accept that as a player, but to just shut them out, I don’t think it was very clever.
Germany in Decline?
I can’t see the squad being strong enough to challenge for major titles just yet. I’m a big believer in the cycle of generations. You see the French team now, it’s taken them 20 years to get back on top. You think about the Spanish team now, they’re not the same team as the side that won the World Cup and two European Championships. The margins are so small if you want to achieve something great, so it might take Germany another ten years to get back on top.
The talent is there, but the players they had – Özil, Müller, Neuer, Boateng, Kroos – they all played for top teams, they all played in Champions League finals, won their domestic leagues. The new generation aren’t quite at that level right now.
I wouldn’t make much of the German teams Champions League performance this year though.
In England, people are always saying we play too many games, and then there’s four teams in the quarter-final this year!
Is German football in decline? Definitely not. Are they as good as they were a few years ago? Probably not, but we’re talking about fine margins at the top. These big games you sometimes just need a little bit of luck, a referee decision to go your way. It’s not a true reflection of your national team or game. If that was the case, the French team wouldn’t have won the World Cup.
2006 World Cup revolution
I’m from Berlin, and we were stationed there for the tournament. As a 21-year-old, it was amazing just to be selected, but then to be a half-an-hour drive from your family for six weeks when I had been living in London for five years, it was just one of those freak tournaments. You don’t associate Germany with great weather, but the sun was just shining all through that World Cup.
I got to play in Berlin too. I didn’t appreciate how lucky I was at the time to play in Germany, in a World Cup, in the city I was born in, it doesn’t get much better than that. It took me a long time to realise that.
Germany was in a bad way then. I don’t know how we got to the final in 2002 but our European Championships performances were not good. 2006 was a huge factor in turning things around. It was disappointing to lose to Italy in the semi-final obviously, but if you look back it really set the stall for German football to improve. We hear it all the time, that semi-final was a big game that galvanised the nation, the clubs got organised, and then it set something up for the next generation and it was great to be part of it.