Most German fans could not imagine their national team without Joachim Loew. Now in charge of the side for the last ten years, it would come as a big surprise if the 56-year old German head-coach were to turn down a new contract with the “Deutscher Fussball Bund” (DFB – German Football Association) but there is still a slight chance he might.
The 2014 World Cup winning coach’s present contract runs out after the 2018 World Cup in Russia. But right now, two years in advance of the World Cup and Germany’s clean 3-0 victory (goals by Thomas Mueller 2, Toni Kroos,) in their World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic in Hamburg this Saturday evening, Loew finds himself under fire.
Criticism has erupted as the German team has been wasting too many chances. Loew is accused of lacking bottle when it comes to calling up new faces to his team and with it the vital renewal process. Additionally, the German national team and the country’s association fear they will lose ground in the battle with the top league clubs.
For Loew, the game against the Czech Republic was his 140th as Germany’s head-coach. The 56-year old is now the new record holder as the 2014 World Cup winner (2006 – 2016) has overtaken the former German head-coach Helmut Schoen (139 games/1964 – 1978/World Cup, winners in 1974) who is followed by Berti Vogts (102 games/1990 – 1998/European Championship winners in 1996).
DFB President Reinhard Grindel (55) is eager to extent Loew’s contract. While Loew is expressing a possible interest in taking over a club team abroad one day, he at the same time said that he and the association will soon start talks about a new contract. “Generally I have no problem to go into a tournament like a World Cup with a contract that is due to expire.”
More likely is that Loew and the DFB will start negotiations as soon as the German team will have qualified for the 2018 World Cup.
“I get the impression that the association is happy with my work,” Loew said.
Association boss Grindel said: “We are fully satisfied with the work of Joachim Loew. We’ve never expressed any doubts and are confident of keeping him on as our head coach.”
Grindel said before the game in Hamburg: “We will start talks with Loew as soon as we can.”
While Loew is flirting with a possible move back towards club football, he is aware that the German association needs him. After the resignation of former association boss Wolfgang Niersbach, who was involved in Germany’s now suspicious bid for the 2006 World Cup, former politician Reinhard Grindel took over.
Other officials have resigned alongside Niersbach. Grindel, like most of the new executive board members has no serious football background. Meaning, Loew does not have to expect, much control or criticism from his employer.
While Loew can feel safe when it comes to the governing body, criticism is starting to surface in German media and amongst some of the Bundesliga clubs. While Borussia Dortmund’s head-coach Thomas Tuchel criticized Loew for not nominating the club’s midfielder Gonzalo Castro, the Frankfurt-based newspaper FAZ accused Loew of being weak when it comes to a necessary rebuilding phase.
In the paper’s view, the country’s leading daily, Loew has made himself far too comfortable in his job. The newspaper also accused Loew of ignoring highly-talented German youngsters like the strikers Timo Werner and Davie Selke (both RB Leipzig) and others. It is all in contrast to his statements after the 2016 European Championship Loew would not hesitate to “freshen up” the German national squad, an inevitable step in order to be prepared for future challenges.
Not only did some newspapers start to criticize Loew but many fans seem to have lost interest in the German national team. Four of the last five home games were not sold out. “We have to search our own hearts looking at that. We so far have always been the highlight within in German football. We have to regain this position with good games and results,” German national team manager Oliver Bierhoff said.
Many pundits see a reason for the declining popularity of the German national team in the rising number of club games. Fans, they assume, have to decide between 60 to 70 games of the top clubs every season and the national team who mainly play minnows. In that respect Loew criticized the Euro 2016 tournament which saw 24 instead of only 16 participants. Not only Bierhoff is demanding better results and a more entertaining style to win back lost territory.
Some of accusations against Loew may be premature, but Loew feels that the enormous credit he collected by winning the 2014 World Cup is far from being a life insurance. To be everybody’s darling again, Loew will have to add new success and a new title. The disappointment after the European Championship as Germany was eliminated after a mostly under par performances was too big for them to go on with business as usual.