Saturday June 15, 2024

Germany's Flick sacked after poor run, Völler in temporary charge

Published : 10 Sep 2023, 22:59

  By Jan Mies, dpa
Germany coach Hansi Flick gives an interview between Florian Koenig (L) and former national player and TV pundit Lothar Matthaus after the International friendly soccer match between Germany and Japan at the Volkswagen Arena. Photo: Federico Gambarini/dpa.

Germany coach Hansi Flick was sacked on Sunday following the embarrassing 4-1 home defeat by Japan as the German Football Federation (DFB) decided enough was enough with a home Euros coming up in June.

A third defeat in a row left Flick badly exposed, but his chances of staying in the job seemed to be helped by the fact another game against France was coming quickly on Tuesday.

But the DFB could not risk another humiliation and has pulled the plug on the 2014 World Cup-winning assistant coach and a man who won his first eight games in charge after being appointed to the top job in 2021.

DFB president Bernd Neuendorf said: "(We) agreed that the senior men's national team needs a new impulse after recent disappointing results. We need a spirit of optimism and confidence with a view to the European Championship in our own country.

"For me personally, it is one of the most difficult decisions in my tenure so far given I value Hansi Flick and his assistant coaches as football experts and people. However, sporting success has top priority for the DFB. Therefore, the decision was inevitable."

DFB team director Rudi Völler, under-20 coach Hannes Wolf and his assistant Sandro Wagner will take charge on a one-off basis for Tuesday's friendly in Dortmund against World Cup runners-up France.

"The goal is to find a successor for Hansi Flick as soon as possible," the statement added.

Bild newspaper said former Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann was a top target.

Saturday's defeat to Japan stunned the football fraternity in the land of the four-times world champions - even after witnessing a second straight group-stage exit at last year's World Cup in Qatar.

They may only be playing friendlies at present but it has been the manner of the losses as much as the results which have alarmed fans and pundits alike.

Flick took an open training session on Sunday. Around 3,500 fans had been expected but there were far fewer at the start of the session.

In a message to supporters present, Völler said: "We all certainly imagined this a bit differently. But nevertheless, we are here with all the players and all the coaches and we are facing up to the situation."

Tabloid Bild labelled Flick "clueless" after failing to win a fifth straight game - including four defeats - while pundits such as Lothar Matthäus said they "doubted" the coach could continue to have the backing of the DFB.

He proved to be right with fellow ex-Germany star Stefan Effenberg telling broadcaster Sport 1: "The coach is no longer getting through to the team, action has to be taken and a new coach has to come in."

Völler, Flick's boss, had refused to give Flick his full support immediately after the Japan humbling.

"I'm a little bit shocked," Völler told RTL. "We simply don't belong to the top tier anymore.

"Tuesday we have a difficult game against France and then we will see how we go forward."

Flick had refused to resign on Saturday, saying: "I am the right coach."

The defensive showing in particular was a shambles in Wolfsburg with a huge error from substitute Robin Gosens allowing Japan's Takuma Asano to make it 3-1 before Ao Tanaka had a completely free header in injury time to complete the humbling.

Nico Schlotterbeck, playing at left back despite being a centre half, also almost gave away a goal while Joshua Kimmich, who had the captaincy unceremoniously taken off him for Ilkay Gündogan, operated at right back despite being one of the world's best midfielders.

It all pointed to muddled thinking from Flick, who was hailed the football world over when he led Bayern Munich to a Champion League, Bundesliga and German Cup treble just three years ago.

Kimmich summed up the mood on Saturday and said the coach was not just to blame.

"When you don't put the quality on the pitch so often and over such a long period of time, we also have to ask ourselves whether we really have top quality across the park," he said.

Possible replacements for Flick, so close to a home Euros, are few and far between.

The man who succeeded him at Bayern, Nagelsmann, is available having been sacked by the German champions in March.

But Nagelsmann is only 36, was not necessarily liked by Bayern's Germany players and is still strictly speaking contracted to the Bavarians, as is the man who replaced him at the Bundesliga giants - Thomas Tuchel.

Liverpool's Jürgen Klopp has a long contract at Anfield and is unlikely to want to take on the Germany job with the squad in such disarray.

Völler, who coached Germany as 2002 World Cup runners-up before a group-stage exit at Euro 2004, would be loathe to stay in charge for longer than one match.

After Tuesday, Germany travel to the United States to face the US and Mexico in mid-October.

German football is in crisis generally with the women's team being knocked out of the recent World Cup in the group stage and youth teams also flopping. A big youth football reform plan has also been widely slammed.