The announcement that German national team trainer Joachim Löw is to stand down after this summer’s European Championship tournament has come as a bit of a surprise, coming as it does a year before his contract was due to expire.
Germany’s longest serving Bundestrainer somewhat surprisingly carried on in his role following the Nationalmannschaft’s abysmal showing at the 2106 World Cup in Russia and his efforts to rejuvenate the team with younger players has not been a wholehearted success. A 6-0 mauling to Spain in November of last year was Germany’s heaviest defeat since 1931.
The German Football Association now have the task of finding a successor- something which you would have thought has been started even before Löw’s revelation that he intends to stand down a year early.
There are already a number of names being thrown around, but the decision really boils down to two different groups- the big names from club management that immediately spring to mind and those already working on the inside of the national team set-up. Both have their pros and cons, so let’s take a look at the men in the frame.
The Big Names
Whenever a national team job becomes vacant, the media instantly look at the big club managers to see if there is a suitable candidate to step up and lead the nation. In Germany’s case there are two obvious names, who are currently amongst the most successful and highly rated coaches in world football- Hansi Flick and Jürgen Klopp.
Klopp would be a massive favourite amongst many fans having enjoyed huge success with both Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool and he has long been seen as an eventual Bundestrainer.
The key word here is ‘eventual’. Even though reigning Premier League champions Liverpool are having a torrid time in the defence of their English crown, it would seem premature for ‘Kloppo’ to move upstairs into the German national team job. He is contracted to Liverpool until 2024 and has previously said that he would not move straight from club management into international management without a break.
He has also spoken prior to Liverpool’s Champions League tie with RB Leipzig saying: “Am I available for the job in the summer? No. Somebody else will do the job, and with the amount of good German managers they have, I’m sure the German FA will find a good solution.”
That’s that then.
Then there is Bayern Munich trainer Hansi Flick, whose previous role with the national side makes him an obvious candidate. Whereas Joachim Löw moved up from assistant under Jürgen Klinsmann, the scene is now set for Löw’s former assistant to succeed him.
The problem being that Flick is currently enjoying huge success with Bayern and despite only being an interim solution at the start, is fast carving out his own role as a true Bayern legend as coach. Would the pull of the Nationalmannschaft be strong enough to pull him away from the Allianz Arena, where he is evolving a real European powerhouse?
Names like Thomas Tüchel and Julian Nagelsmann will also be bandied about, but they are in the prime of their club careers with the national job coming much too soon.
The Inside Men
Germany has a history of promoting from within when it comes to the Bundestrainer. Sepp Herberger, Helmut Schön, Jupp Derwall and Joachim Löw himself were all assistants before taking on the top job.
Current assistant to Jogi Löw, Marcus Sorg, must therefore be under consideration. The 54-year-old knows the squad and would be in a great position to take over without too much upheaval. He lacks the experience of being a number one at club level, but that didn’t hold Joachim Löw back upon his appointment.
He is highly regarded in his ability to coach young players and with a mouth-watering batch of youngsters emerging, the prospect of developing a next generation national side must seem appealing.
German U-21 coach Stefan Kuntz is also amongst the frontrunners having guided the U-21’s to glory at the 2017 European Championships. He was also a winner as a player scoring the winning goal in the Euro 96 tournament in England against the Czech Republic.
He knows the inner workings of the DFB, is highly regarded and like Sorg, would provide a seamless transition. While not a ‘big name’ like Klopp or Flick, the inside man could prove a tempting choice for the DFB.
Is there a third way? Could somebody like Ralf Rangnick be the solution? Elder statesmen like Arsene Wenger (speaks fluent German) or Jupp Heynckes will be on the shortlist of some.
If I was a betting man, I would predict an inside man this time around. The timing just isn’t right for the big name club managers and there are two genuinely good internal options. Then again, I’m not a betting man and could be completely wrong.