The 61-year-old Joachim Low announced on Tuesday morning that he would be stepping down from his position as Germany manager after Euro 2020. Nearly four months after the damaging 6-0 defeat by Spain, a sporting catastrophe that saw German FA president Fritz Keller first mooting the idea of Low stepping down after this summer’s European Championship. Germany has struggled recently under Low. They were knocked out in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup, the first time in their history they had exited in that part of the tournament. They also finished the bottom of their group in the inaugural Nations League. Moreover, they finished second in their 2020-21 Nations League group, which included a 6-0 defeat to Spain in November 2020.
Low was well aware of the fact that there was almost no chance he would have been able to continue until 2024 and Germany wanted a change in guard at the managerial level. After leaving the job, Low would be pretty much who and how he wants over the next few weeks, without any care about long-term planning, optics and repercussions as nothing the critics, his superiors or any disgruntled players might say can hurt him now and he’ll enjoy the independence and the chance to go completely rogue if he so desires. Also, Low will enjoy a groundswell of genuine support as everybody will want him to have one last good tournament and achieve a fitting denouement before moving on and passing the managerial baton. Even for German FA, who is grappling with internal fights and a barrage of scandals, enough time to find a suitable long-term replacement for the outgoing manager.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, being the overwhelming favourite of all, has announced he has no intention of quitting Anfield and running for the German National team job. Even though it has been an unfulfilling campaign for the former Premier League champions, but he continues to enjoy the backing of the club’s owners. Also, even though Klopp has made little secret of his desire to coach the national team one day, but he told Sky Germany on the eve of Liverpool’s last-16 second leg against RB Leipzig that the timing wouldn’t be right for him this year under any circumstances. He said “Joachim Low did an incredible job. I’m sure the German FA will find a good solution. I have three years left at LFC, don’t I? It’s simple. You sign a contract and you stick to that contract. I stuck to contracts at Mainz and Dortmund. Even if Liverpool were to fire me, I would take a year off first. So it wouldn’t work.”
With Klopp’s refusal, another German name Hansi Flick could now be strongly thrown into the mix. As the German FA’s former sporting director and Low’s assistant from 2006 to 2014, the 56-year-old Bayern Munich coach represents a nice blend of continuity and fresh impetus. His Bayern philosophy, based on a high line, pressing game fine tuned by Ralph Hasenhuttl’s former assistant Danny Roh, would provide a new tactical identity and could be implemented with very little fuss — half of the national team are Bayern players anyway. At Bayern, Flick has won six trophies since taking over in November 2019 and he could well become the first Bayern boss to defend the European Cup since Dettmar Cramer 46 years ago. Unlike some of the other dominant teams in the big leagues, Bayern have remained competitive and highly motivated despite all the complications of COVID-19.
With the possible exception of Julian Nagelsmann, whose extrication from RB Leipzig would prove difficult, they don’t have a readymade replacement in mind, either. German-speaking managers able to do the biggest job in German club football are hard to come by.
And yet, Flick’s barely hidden disagreements with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic continue to cast a very long shadow. Under contract until 2023, Flick might feel the chance to take the national team to the 2022 World Cup and the 2024 Euros in Germany would make for a more rewarding mission than a third season in Munich, where, traditionally, few coaches grow old. If, on the other hand, he wanted to stay, he would be in an even stronger position to win those internal battles now that the German FA is at his doorstep. But it’s not a foregone conclusion that Bayern will simply yield to his demands, especially if he overplays his hand. They don’t like coaches with too much control in Munich.
The third big name in the mix is Ralf Rangnick. One of Germany’s greatest managerial innovators, he’s available immediately after leaving Red Bull Salzburg and would come with the benefit of providing plenty of ideas in relation to some of the necessary reforms of coaching and youth development at the FA level. Tactically, too, he would provide an attractive, modern blueprint that Bayern players and other top Germany stars would appreciate. However, the German FA is in favour of pushing Low’s assistant Marcus Song or Stefan Kuntz (Under 21 manager). But, if Ragnarick manages to secure the support of UliHoeness and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge at Bayern, Hans-Joachim Watzke at Borussia Dortmund and Rudi Voller at Bayer Leverkusen, he could turn tides in this favour as these men dominate the public discourse and not just the German FA.