Hansi Flick is no longer the head coach of the German men’s national team. A move that should have probably come after the 2022 World Cup disaster in which Germany failed to make it out of the group stage was finally executed on Sunday after a humiliating defeat against Japan (1-4).
“The end was quick but too late,” Germany’s football magazine kicker wrote in a headline that seemed on point. After all, Germany’s defeat to Japan was the third loss in a row. Under Flick, Germany had won just one of the last six games. With points per game average of 1.72, Flick leaves the DFB with the second worst record in history—only Erich Ribbeck (1.5 ppg) had a worse record with Germany.
It was the worst run of form since 1985, when Germany was coached by Franz Beckenbauer. One year later, Germany reached the final at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico and then won the tournament four years later in Italy. But nobody had the confidence that Flick would manage a similar turnaround with just one year to go for Germany to host the 2024 European Championships.
“Going into the European Championship next summer, we need confidence and optimism in the country regarding our team,” DFB president Bernd Neuendorf said in a statement. “This has been one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make during my time in this role because I really respect Hansi Flick and his assistants, both on a professional and personal level. Sporting success is of the utmost importance to the DFB, which is why this decision had to be made.”
Rudi Völler, Hannes Wolf, and Sandro Wagner will take charge of the national team for the upcoming friendly against France (Sep. 12). Völler coached Germany between 2000 and 2004 and led the country to a second-place finish at the 2002 World Cup and is currently the director of the national team. Wolf, in the meantime, has coached several Bundesliga sides and was just promoted as the director of the youth national teams.
Finally, there is Sandro Wagner. Wagner helped guide Unterhaching to 3. Liga promotion last year but then left the club to join the DFB to become an assistant coach of the U20 team. There is a consensus that Wagner could become a good coach one day, but the national team job would come too soon.
The DFB had other plans. In his capacity as director of the national team and now interim coach, Völler, together with president Neuendorf and vice-president Hans-Joachim Watzke, will now be looking for a new permanent head coach. The DFB stressed on Sunday that the next coach will not be an interim for the upcoming European Championships but a long-term solution.
But the question is, who would want this job long-term? After all, German football is lorded over by personalities who seem to be out of touch with the current realities of the game.
One of the early favorites is former Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann. But Nagelsmann was on a significant salary at Bayern that was in the mid-double-digit million-dollar range. Furthermore, the 36-year-old reportedly had a big money offer from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer, but Bayern demanded a transfer fee in the region of $15 million. The DFB doesn’t have that sort of money and will have to reach a compromise with Bayern. Money is one issue; the other problem is Nagelsmann himself. Still very young, Nagelsmann might not be willing to take the job yet.
Jürgen Klopp was brought up but is unlikely to be enticed away from Liverpool. Then there is Roger Schmidt, who resurrected his career abroad with PSV Eindhoven and Benfica. Schmidt is a fantastic coach, but like Klopp, the DFB at this point could be a tough sell.
Other candidates include the Austrian Oliver Glasner. Glasner did fantastic work with Eintracht Frankfurt, but does he have the profile to lead the German national team? Also, the DFB, up to this point, has been reluctant to go with a foreign coach.
But with German elite coaches under contract or perhaps reluctant to take the job, is there really an alternative? On Sunday, Bild reached out to former Bayern Munich coach Louis van Gaal and asked him about Germany’s predicament.
The Dutchman, of course, immediately put his name forward. “Normally, I won’t coach at a club anymore, but a promising country still has a chance to convince me,” Van Gaal said. And really, are there many worse candidates at the moment?
Manuel Veth is the host of the Bundesliga Gegenpressing Podcast and the Area Manager USA at Transfermarkt. He has also been published in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA, and several other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth and on Threads: @manuveth