Opinion: Joachim Löw′s legacy is tainted | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW
Given his success in overhauling German football and winning a World Cup, it's unfortunate that the first reaction to Joachim Löw's planned resignation is to wonder: why now? And not simply, why? The answer to the second question is all too clear. Since Germany's abysmal performance in the 2018 World Cup, relegation from the Nations League […]

Given his success in overhauling German football and winning a World Cup, it's unfortunate that the first reaction to Joachim Löw's planned resignation is to wonder: why now? And not simply, why?

The answer to the second question is all too clear.

Since Germany's abysmal performance in the 2018 World Cup, relegation from the Nations League and 6-0 hammering in Spain, the Germany head coach has had fewer and fewer advocates, in the public, the media and even among the ranks of his ex-players. Crucially for his job security though, the German FA (DFB) wavered but never fully turned its back on him.

DW's Matt Pearson

There's a point to which that is understandable, to which loyalty and a commitment to stability is even admirable. But we passed it a long time ago. So why now?

Shaking things up

Löw arrived as Jürgen Klinsmann's assistant in 2004 on a wind of change, shaking up the German football system and, after becoming head coach in 2006, introducing an exciting brand of high-tempo football built around a young core of players built outside the old German mould that ultimately won the country the World Cup in 2014.

But in recent years, it's become increasingly clear that he's become the thing he was hired to replace: the company man.

Each humiliation was followed by renewed pleas for patience during a rebuilding phase or even grand analyses and masterplans for where it went wrong and what would change. The personnel on the pitch belatedly started to alter, most notably when Thomas Müller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels were axed after 2018, but results failed to follow.

Löw's refusal to reevaluate a decision on Müller in particular was an indication of the stubbornness that has been to his detriment in recent years. Still just 31, Müller has been a major driving force for Bayern Munich, the best club side in the world, but only in recent days has Löw even hinted that he might change his mind.

That stubbornness also manifested itself tactically, with Löw struggling to adapt away from possession football and towards the kind of rapid, counter-attacking game that many of his new breed of players have grown up on.

His 2014 assistant, Hansi Flick, has shown that such adaptability is possible - but not under Löw.

Core of champions

And yet, for all that there's little public belief in the Nationalmannschaft right now, the talent is undoubtedly there. Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich, Leroy Sane, Leon Goretzka, Kai Havertz, Ilkay Gündogan and Serge Gnabry would be contenders in any international squad in the world and, though the defensive ranks aren't what they were, there's enough there to win a tournament, whoever is in charge.

And perhaps Germany will win these postponed Euros, wherever they take place, and Löw will ride off into the sunset as only the second German boss to win a World Cup/Euros double after Helmut Schön in the mid 70s with West Germany.

If they do, perhaps the last three years of regression were all part of the process after all, or perhaps the core of a Bayern Munich side who hold the Champions League and Club World Cup are simply good enough to win matches regardless.

But in the likely event that they don't, Löw's successor will have to blow off the lingering cobwebs in the way he did himself back in 2004.

He'll always have Rio and the Maracana, but leaving the job as he found it won't be much of a legacy.

Joachim Löw, the world's longest-serving national team coach Longest-tenured national team coach

In March 2020, Uruguay's football association laid off its longtime first team coach Oscar Tabarez, 73, as it struggles financially amid the coronavirus crisis. His removal made Germany coach Joachim Löw, whose tenure began three months after Tabarez's in 2006, the longest-serving coach in international football.

Joachim Löw, the world's longest-serving national team coach Unspectacular playing career

Joachim Löw's career as a player was anything but spectacular. In his 52 Bundesliga matches as a striker for Stuttgart, Eintracht Frankfurt and Karlsruhe, the native of southwestern Germany found the back of the net just seven times. Much of his time as a player was spent at then-second division side Freiburg.

Joachim Löw, the world's longest-serving national team coach A switch to coaching

Even before he hung up his boots, Joachim Löw turned his hand to coaching, first as a youth coach at Swiss outfit FC Winterthur, were he was still playing in 1994. In 1995 he broke into the Bundesliga as co-coach at his former club Stuttgart, before being named head coach a year later. Here he is seen speaking to Thomas Schneider, who would later become his assistant with the national team.

Joachim Löw, the world's longest-serving national team coach Turkish tenure

Despite winning the German Cup with Stuttgart in 1997, Löw was let go by the Swabians. In the summer of 1998 he took a job with Istanbul side Fenerbahce, who he led to a third-place finish. Still, he would only last a year at the club.

Joachim Löw, the world's longest-serving national team coach First-place firing

After spells at Karlsruhe, Adanaspor and Innsbruck, Löw moved on to Austria Vienna, in the summer of 2003. This too would turn out to be a short interlude, as he was sacked in March, despite the club occupying first place in the table. Without him, Austria would finish second in the league by a single point.

Joachim Löw, the world's longest-serving national team coach The Jogi and Jürgen show

After Rudi Völler resigned as coach of the German national team, another former Germany striker, Jürgen Klinsmann, took over. One of Klinsmann's first moves as Germany coach was to appoint Löw as his assistant.

Joachim Löw, the world's longest-serving national team coach Summer fairy tale

Klinsmann and Löw led Germany into the 2006 World Cup on home soil, where they lost to Italy in the semifinals. The "home" World Cup created a great atmosphere all over Germany, where public viewing of games first took place on a large scale. Here Klinsmann and Löw are flanked by goalkeeping coach Andreas Köpke and manager Oliver Bierhoff at a post-tournament event in Berlin.

Joachim Löw, the world's longest-serving national team coach Euro final defeat

After succeeding Klinsmann as head coach, Löw's first major tournament in charge was Euro 2008. He led Germany to the final in Vienna, but they were defeated 1-0 by Spain.

Joachim Löw, the world's longest-serving national team coach Spain again...

At his first World Cup as head coach, Joachim Löw's young squad cruised by England (4-1) in the round of 16 and crushed Argentina (4-0) in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, though, Germany ran into the more experienced Spanish side, who prevailed 1-0. Here Löw is seen congratulating a young Mesut Özil during the England match.

Joachim Löw, the world's longest-serving national team coach No laughing matter

Joachim Löw's men got out to a perfect start to Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, winning all three of their group-stage matches, before beating Greece 4-2 in their quarterfinal: It was Germany's 15th consecutive win, setting a new world record. However, there would be no happy ending, as Germany fell 2-1 to bogey side, Italy.

Joachim Löw, the world's longest-serving national team coach World Cup champions

It all came together for Löw in 2014. Germany beat Portugal and the US, while drawing with Ghana to progress from the group stage. They needed extra time to beat Algeria in the round of 16 and struggled past France 1-0. But they crushed hosts Brazil 7-1. The final, against Argentina, also went to extra time, before Mario Götze scored the winner to give Germany a 1-0 win - and the World Cup.

Joachim Löw, the world's longest-serving national team coach Down to earth in France

Löw's next major tournament was Euro 2016, just next door in France. Germany advanced to the knockout stage with two wins and a draw before beating Slovakia and Italy to set up a semifinal showdown against the hosts in Marseille. Germany came up short though, falling 2-0 to France.

Joachim Löw, the world's longest-serving national team coach A minor title

Germany won their first Confederations Cup under Joachim Löw in 2017. It was far from Germany's best side that turned out in Russia, with Löw choosing to rest several first-string players in ancipation of the World Cup 12 months later. Germany beat Chile 1-0 in the final thanks to a goal from Lars Stindl in the 20th minute. Germany's future looked very bright indeed.

Joachim Löw, the world's longest-serving national team coach What a difference a year makes

With a full-strength squad, Germany were regarded as one of the favorites heading into the 2018 World Cup in Russia. But they looked a shadow of their former selves, losing to Mexico and South Korea and finishing bottom of their group. Despite the poor showing, Löw said he intended to fulfill his contract, which the German football association (DFB) extended until 2022 before the tournament.

Joachim Löw, the world's longest-serving national team coach Three World Cup winners cut

After the disaster in Russia, Löw acknowledged errors. He wrongly believed that he could get into the knockout rounds playing possession-based football. "It was almost arrogant," Löw said in his analysis afterwards. He announced a generation change in the team and said he would be dropping Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels und Thomas Müller from the squad.

Joachim Löw, the world's longest-serving national team coach A dark day

Germany comfortably qualified for Euro 2020, a tournament that was postponed a year due to COVID-19. Löw appeared to slowly be moving this new Germany team in the right direction, until they suffered a 6-0 loss to Spain in the Nations League. It was the second highest defeat in Germany's football history. "It was a dark day," said Löw afterwards as pressure began to mount.

Joachim Löw, the world's longest-serving national team coach The end of the road

On March 9, 2021, Löw announced that he will be stepping down as head coach following the 2021 European Championships. He spoke of his "pride and gratitude" at having represented Germany for almost 17 years and insisted his motivation ahead of the Euros remains "unbroken." DFB president Fritz Keller expressed his "great respect" for Löw's decision, which gives the DFB time to identify a successor.

Author: Chuck Penfold

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