A one-time, short-spell midfielder for Bayern Munich and FC Koln, Hansi Flick has had a 21-year coaching career but only a two-year head coaching career before taking over as national team coach from Joachim Low on August first of last year. In his 15 games in charge, Germany have won nine, drawn five, and lost one. Unfortunately, most of those wins have been over the likes of Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Armenia, Romania, Israel, and North Macedonia.
Flick is charged with reviving German pride in Die Mannschaft who bombed out of Russia 2018 at the Group Stage after a 0-1 loss to Mexico and a 0-2 loss to South Korea, managing just one win, with officiating largesse, a 2-1 victory over Sweden when the ref added an excessive number of stoppage minutes (five) to the second half until at 94:42 Toni Kroos finally scored the German winner.
Painfully, the German side was replete with stars—Manuel Neuer, Jonas Hector, Mats Hummels, Niklas Suele, Joshua Kimmick, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus, Leon Goretzka, and Timo Werner starting against South Korea, for example.
So now, with some of those players retired, many of the subs from that team will likely be starting in 2022—Thomas Muller, Antonio Ruediger, Ilkay Guendogan, Matthias Ginter, and if Neuer doesn’t heal, Marc-Andre ter Stegen. The bottom line is the team is full of new stars now too such as Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, Kai Havertz, and Jamal Musiala. Flick has a lot to work with and a relatively easy group to start things off with in Qatar.
The issues are three-fold: first, the injuries, if aside from the players already set to miss the cup, Sane, Neuer, and Muller were to also miss going to Qatar the German side would have to be considered depleted. Second, the Germans have been inconsistent for entire stretches. One decent game followed by two poor ones and then one stellar one. If the decent games were to fall when playing top opponents or the poor one when playing middling ones, the Germans could be in trouble. Third, the team has not had a chance to work long with the coach or with one another and they have precious little time left to do so.
The hope of the German fans is that their team’s individuals, mostly superior players, will find a way to succeed despite their glaring shortcomings and so-so results as a unit. It would not be a stretch to say that Flick is a caretaker rather than the leader of a new project with the German Football Federation to rebuild and fortify the national team. It seems more like a mission to restore faith in the team’s potential so that when 2026 and 2030 come along they can be contenders.
In 2022, Germany has drawn with Italy, Holland, England, and Hungary, and then lost to Hungary (0-1) at home, making it difficult to see how they would overcome a tough competitor when it mattered most. To win a World Cup one needs some basic performance consistency, a little luck, and a darn good team. Germany have a decent team and might get lucky, but when push comes to shove, they don’t seem to have the goods. Flick will need to wait for another quadrennial event if his federation keeps him before any true positives have had the chance to surface.
Photo: Hansi Flick, Shutterstock ID 2172743805, by Vitalii Vitleo