Opinion: Joachim Low needs to resign for Germany to improve
The year 2004 was a disappointing one for Germany. They failed to advance into the knockout stages at the Euros, and were left humiliated.
A change was needed, and the German Football Association (DFB) appointed Jurgen Klinsmann as head coach. Klinsmann needed a trusty second in command, and brought in Joachim Low.
From the ashes of the disappointing Euros rose a stronger Germany, and a period of domination followed. As the hosts of the 2006 World Cup, Germany reached the semi-finals, losing to eventual winners Italy.
Klinsmann decided to step down, and Joachim Low took over the reins. He continued with the attacking football started by his predecessor, while bringing younger players into the fold. Germany became one of the best teams in the world under Low.
Throughout the next decade, they always made it at least to the semi-finals of major tournaments. They made it into the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup, as well as the 2012 Euros, and they were the finalists in Euro 2008. Along with Spain, they boasted a squad with an abundance of talent.
Then came the 2014 World Cup. In Brazil, the Germans humiliated The Samba Boys on their turf in the semi-finals, and in the finals they beat Argentina in added time to lift the World Cup.
It was the perfect reward for the hard work and dedication Low had put into the team. Many of the players like Muller, Kroos, and Ozil were young, and yet to reach their peak. After years of near finishes, Die Mannschaft were World Champions.
While they failed to win Euro 2016, again falling in the semi-final stage, Germany was expected to defend their crown at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. While many veterans like Lahm and Schweinsteiger had retired, Germany still boasted immense talent in the team. They had won the Confederations Cup the year before, with their "second team". Such was the depth in the squad.
However, since the start of the millennium, a curse seems to have been affecting the defending World Champions. Except for Brazil, France, Italy, and Spain had been knocked out of the group stages of the World Cup while defending their titles, but nobody could have thought Germany would join the cursed.
The world stood in shock as the defending Champions got knocked out in the group stages, with a loss to South Korea in their final game. What happened next was a nasty blame game. The press hunted for a scapegoat, and found a perfect one in Mesut Ozil, who had taken an ill advised photo with Turkish President Erdogan.
After a nasty saga, Ozil decided to retire from the national team, but the whole episode left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.
One person who escaped from all the scrutiny was Low. While it was his dedication and management that won Germany the World Cup in 2014, he was equally responsible for their dismal show in Russia.
He had failed to change his tactics, and the opposition teams finally caught up with them. While Germany dictated possession, there was no end product to their attacks. The lack of a recognisable striker was also to blame. Ever since Miroslav Klose retired, Germany has struggled to replace him. Low's work in the last decade surely saved his job.
However, with the humiliating loss in the Nations League to The Netherlands, a team which failed to even qualify for Russia, Low's position as head coach has come under the spotlight. While Germany again dominated the possession, they just couldn't find a way to make it count.
Germany still boasts a lot of talent in their squad, and have several young players like Sane, Kimmich, and Werner to call upon in the coming years, but the problems they faced at the World Cup haunts them still.
That begs the question of whether Low is the right man going forward. He surely made Die Mannschaft the best in the world, but he seems to have run out of ideas. Germany is stagnating at the moment. Low has created a legacy as one of the best coaches in the world, but by staying as Germany's head coach, he risks tarnishing that reputation.
Low has served his nation faithfully for over a decade, but what Germany needs is a new start. 2018 is similar to 2004, the Germans were in crisis then, and are now. Hopefully for his beloved country, Low will decide to resign before it is too late.Published 16 Oct 2018, 00:49 IST