New reports confirmed that German national team head coach, Jogi Löw, will coach the squad through the 2018 World Cup in Russia. This news arrives quickly on the heels of Germany’s semi-final exit in the 2016 Euros, where Löw’s squad was eliminated 0-2 by France, the tournament’s hosts and runners-up.
Moreover, the announcement coincides with Löw’s 10th year anniversary as die Mannschaft boss. (Löw took over from Jürgen Klinsmann on July 12th of 2006.) By the conclusion of the 2018 World Cup, Löw will have been die Mannschaft boss for 12 years, making him the longest-tenured German national team manager since Helmut Schön (14 years; 1964-78) and the legendary Sepp Herberger (20 years; 1936-42 and 1950-64).
Assuming Germany qualify, the 2018 World Cup will be Löw’s 3rd as head coach and his 6th major tournament. Through the conclusion of the 2016 Euros, Löw’s winning percentage as die Mannschaft head coach is a remarkable 66.67% (129 matches: 86 wins, 22 draws, 21 losses with a GD of +198). This winning percentage is the all-time best for German national team managers. Impressive.
By renewing Löw’s contract, the DFB grants their head coach the courtesy of defending his 2014 World Cup title.
Keeping Löw on board seems congruent with the DFB’s long-term programmatic approach to die Nationalmannschaft – a philosophy relying on stability and consistency to reap the benefits of Germany’s fabled youth system, coaching training, and careful squad building. Given his coaching credentials and role as both die Mannschaft assistant and head coach, Löw is the poster boy for Germany’s 10 year dominance in international football.
In this light, as some detractors demanded booting Löw out after the Euro semi-final loss would be unconscionable, or as a recent Kicker editorial put the matter more positively: “Löws Ja ist selbstverständlich” (i.e. “Löw’s Yes is Self-Evident”). Really, unless Jogi himself was ready for a change, Germany and the DFB didn’t even have a decision on their hands.
Löw is the national team – embodying its philosophy and success.
However, there are opportunity costs involved with keeping Löw on board. For all his consistency and success, Löw has seemingly become increasingly conservative in assembling his squads and Startelf according to the comfort and security he feels by selecting old guard players (e.g. Mario Gomez, Bastian Scheinsteiger, Lukas Poldolski, and Sami Khedira) over capable starlets (e.g. most recently with Julian Weigl and Leory Sane). Or in his conservative bend tactically by persisting in a striker-less formation that sometimes leaves Germany dry on top for dangerous scoring chances and leaves a player like Thomas Müller feeling pointless in the 2016 Euros.
In fairness, Jogi has a new qualifying cycle to flush out the old guard, install a new guard, and rebuild squad chemistry. The likes of Julian Draxler, Jerome Boateng, Toni Kroos, and Manuel Neuer are emerging as the new heart of the die Mannschaft and can cement their legacies during this next World Cup cycle.
After all, for whatever odd reason, Löw’s die Mannschaft seems to peak every World Cup cycle, while dipping into something like a trough every Euro cycle – not that consecutive semi-final finishes constitute trough, but by Germany’s first footballing world standards they somehow do.
Surely, we all want to see one more Löw-led die Mannschaft peak, right? I know I do. Any other wish simply reminds me just how spoiled for riches us supporters of the German national team are.
Jogi can scratch ‘n sniff all he wants these next two years. Perhaps these peccadilloes are just the perfect compensatory mechanism required by a national coach who’s unwaveringly stuck with the DFB’s program all along.