The clock is ticking and with less than a year now until the European Championships are held on home soil the German national team find themselves struggling for results, for performances, for acceptance and for any optimism going forward. Just what is is up with the Nationalmannschaft?
The appointment of Hansi Flick to succeed Joachim Löw was the obvious choice at the time having served as the assistant during the 2014 World Cup triumph in Brazil and having led Bayern to the treble in 2020. A little over two yeas later and mediocrity has taken over and the prospect of winning Euro 24 next summer seems a pipedream.
The failure at the Qatar World Cup came on the back of being eliminated by England in the round of 16 at the 2020 European Championships and results since the Gulf World Cup have hardly raised the optimism levels. Flick survived the nightmare second successive elimination at the group stage of a World Cup with manager Oliver Bierhoff the one made to carry the can.
Since Qatar, Germany have beaten Peru, lost to Belgium, drawn with Ukraine and now lost to Poland. After starting his tenure with eight consecutive victories, his balance shows just four wins from the last fifteen- certainly not the kind of form to strike fear into next summer’s Euro finalists.
Flick has fielded fifty different players since his debut against Liechtenstein in September 2022. He has however never really settled upon the ideal line-up or formation that can provide a solid defensive block, find solutions in the last third and avoid major defensive mistakes. He has toyed with a back three (unsuccessfully it must be said) and has been torn between the use of established stars and upcoming talent.
The Nationalmannschaft are in a period of transition where thre likes of Mats Hummels, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Marco Reus are in their twilight years, while the youthful talent of Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz needs to be integrated. However, Flick seems to be conflicted in the route he wants to take. Without a competitive qualification process to use, he is stuck with a series of friendlies to try out various players and tactics.
Thus far the experimenting isn’t working and the growing lack of identification of fans with the Nationalmannschaft is also a concern. The individual parts of the German team are most definitely there, the moulding of a coherent unit however looks far off on current form.
At the moment Flick is being given the backing of the DFB, but a quick trawl through social media shows there is a growing discontent and there are calls for a change with Julian Nagelsmann being suggested by some as a short-term solution until he decides his next club destination.
There will be those that hark back to Flick’s achievements with Bayern where he successfully turned things around to achieve glory and to expect top level performances at the end of a long, hard domestic season is asking a lot for a friendly.
However, a recent opinion poll from T-Mobil revealed that 59% of those surveyed said that in their opinion Germany would not play a successful European Championship with Hansi Flick as coach. TV ratings are also in decline for the national team showing that public interest is waning.
Another poor performance against Colombia next week has the potential to turn a problem into a full blown crisis. Mediocrity is not a word happily associated with the German Nationalmannschaft and one that won’t be tolerated for much longer.