But the DFB coach has to change: Hansi Flick is the smallest problem in German football

The responsibility of the German national football team remains with Hansi Flick.

But the DFB coach has to change: Hansi Flick is the smallest problem in German football

The responsibility of the German national football team remains with Hansi Flick. Despite the embarrassing World Cup knockout, the national coach is allowed to continue. And rightly so. Because he can do nothing for many problems in German football. However, he will also have to change.

Whenever the longing for a savior in German football is greatest, the name Jürgen Klopp pops up. Already in the last few meters of the initially successful, then tough era Joachim Löw, the Liverpool man was the nation's wish to pull the DFB team out of the mess. But then Hansi Flick took over and the nation, at least the part that had not yet alienated itself from the national team, was satisfied. A good choice, everyone agreed. A year and a half later, the mood has changed again. After the third failed major tournament in a row, the longing for a savior is once again great - but Flick stays.

In German football, this realization should catch on, the national coach is not the biggest, but currently the smallest problem. This does not require a gigantic analysis. Of course, Flick made mistakes (setup and change) at the World Cup in Qatar. In terms of personnel, he took a surprising lurching course. For example, took a Thilo Kehrer out of the team against Japan. But does the weal and woe of this team really depend on the West Ham United defender? Nobody can and will seriously claim that. And that he tried Niklas Süle on the right, which worked well in Dortmund? That too would never have become a major topic of debate before the tournament. Just as little, by the way, as the renunciation of Mats Hummels had become. And bringing a Leon Goretzka in a World Cup game for an İlkay Gündoğan does not usually cause a racing heart in advance, but sorts itself into luxury worries. But afterwards you're always smarter. And know that those weren't good plans.

But perhaps the biggest mistake was sticking with Thomas Müller, although he didn't look fit after injury and couldn't help the team. Just with his communication skills, that's just not enough. But Flick did not stick to the Bavarian civets out of loyalty to the Nibelungen, but because he thought it was the best option in the management of at least two parts of the team (defense and storm). Even in the storm center, where Kai Havertz had initially weakened, where he did not see the panacea in Niclas Füllkrug from promoted Werder Bremen despite his form and he did not find Youssoufa Moukoko to be suitable for the very highest level. Everything is understandable, and nothing that caused massive criticism of the Bundeshansi in the country. And this almost desperate lack of alternatives in key positions is more alarming for German football than any coaching debate.

Incidentally, it is not even clear whether Klopp was contacted at all and in whose rotation the name Thomas Tuchel can only be hot air, the dislike of this coach at Hans-Joachim Watzke, who is now in charge as DFB vice, is too great dealing with the debacle and with whom Tuchel clashed during their time together at Borussia Dortmund.

What was agreed that things could only get better after Löw's departure after the EM in summer 2021! It was, but only temporarily. The first sporting opponents under Flick's direction were played enthusiastically, but they could also be found in the shallows of the Coca-Cola FIFA world rankings. The sporting deficits could still be concealed against Liechtenstein, Armenia or North Macedonia, but with increasing strength of the opponent, a good Hungary was enough for that, the well-known problems became more and more urgent: the lack of leading players, full-backs, top strikers and players mangy street footballer type.

Flick cannot do anything for all these misconduct. He has to work with whatever is available as a nationality. And that doesn't give much hope for the U-national team. The training of young people has been in crisis for years. The fact that the two most exciting players in the Bundesliga, Jamal Musiala and Jude Bellingham, were trained in England is only the most impressive proof of this. Another: That the top clubs RB Leipzig and FC Bayern prefer to use players from France. The next one could follow with Marcus Thuram from Gladbach. He would be the sixth Frenchman in the Munich squad and a placeholder for his compatriot Mathys Tel, the highly regarded striker.

What Flick can not do: For the third time in a row, the DFB has not managed to keep a political affair away from the national team. In 2018 it was the Özil-Gündogan-Erdogan photo, last summer the rainbow dispute with UEFA (even if it had a different, much smaller dimension for the team) and now the grueling rumgeeiere in the scandal about the "One Love" bandage. An association has to have a feel for whether a team can endure it or not. Germany couldn't. DFB director Oliver Bierhoff has drawn the consequences from the (repeating) mistakes of the past - a sensible decision.

A collective effort is needed to work through and remedy the deficits in German football. Ad hoc measures tend not to help. From the DFB Academy and its guiding principles to youth training in the clubs. A farewell to the treasured treasure of ball possession football is therefore elementary. That also falls within Flick's work area. The national coach has to think of a tactical approach to bringing the available potential, whose world-class value is certainly debatable, onto the field in a stable manner.

It's not just about the high and asymmetrical line of defence, which is often too vulnerable. It's about more depth, more speed, more creativity and more efficiency in the finish (although the influence of the trainer is significantly less here than with the other points). It's about mentality, about greed. And for Flick, it's also about more decision-making, the performance principle must actually apply more than before. Even if that might be bitter for a miller. The time for consideration is finally over.

In order to properly classify the goals of the next mission, however, you also need a realistic view of the options available to the squad. Yes, the promised potential is great, but is it so great that the DFB team can already play a role in the title fight at the home European Championship? Many of those footballers who were labeled failures by some media will still be responsible in a year and a half. Above all, the players born in 1995/96, who are considered the golden generation, such as Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sané or Niklas Süle - to name just the most prominent representatives. They have to drive out the partial form fluctuations, have to become real leaders in order to do justice to the laurels that were once (rightly) distributed. You have to grow into the role of shaking up a team, stabilizing it and leading it when it is about to tip over (after strong phases, for example) or is in danger of collapsing. As against Japan. As against Costa Rica.

The main part of this work lies in the clubs, Flick can only refine it. Or just make tough decisions and show the courage to take full responsibility for the country's greatest talents. As happened with Jamal Musiala. Florian Wirtz, Armel Bella-Kotchap and Youssoufa Moukoko (perhaps also Karim Adeyemi at some point) are the next candidates from this youngest generation (but it is getting thin behind).

This also applies to Kai Havertz and Nico Schlotterbeck, who are ennobled as highly gifted; they have to bring their qualities, their standards and their performance together (more) constantly in order to become the central pillars of this DFB team. Havertz has proven this more often than Schlotterbeck. Among other things, he shot his Chelsea FC to Champions League success, but the final step into the established world class never materialized.

Yes, Hansi Flick's first attempt at a successful rebuild failed, but he already showed in Munich how he can get a team on the ground up again and boost their potential. And in fact, the filling of the national coach post is the smallest with a view to the core problems of German football. Too much other homework is more urgent. A bitter realization from the post-Löw era, in which everything was supposed to get better - but didn't.

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