By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Kicker Editorial: "Business as usual will not suffice."

Ahead of next week's DFB "crisis summit" to determine the future direction of the German national team, a reader poll on the website of Germany's preeminent footballing publication indicates that Kicker Magazine readers remain divided on whether Hansi Flick should continue to serve as the country's "Bundestrainer". 

At the time of this piece's publication, 49 percent of readers believe that Flick should continue whilst 51 percent call for his resignation. Veteran Kicker journalist Matthias Dersch takes a stronger stance in his editorial piece for the magazine. The respected football writer German fans colloquially as "Derschi" calls the current program "a wrecked ship in every respect" before outlining why this is so. 

Of some interest here, Dersch's editorial and indeed many of those appearing in all the major newspapers across Germany aren't the most coherent and virtually all stop short of calling for some specific course of action. Most German football writers simply trot out the condemnatory clichés before completely backing away from anything close to a call for Flick's resignation. 

In a certain sense, this is symbolic of the views of the wider German public regarding the tournament itself; something hinted at in the website poll. Germans are certainly disappointed, but not exactly outraged over a tournament they weren't that invested in from the start. Early signs as to what might happen next week thus point to something cosmetic rather than a full-out course-correction.

Outrage exists in print, but the appetite for change is meager.  
The future of general manager Oliver Bierhoff and current national team head-coach Hansi Flick shall be determined at a so-called "crisis summit" scheduled by SDF president Bernd Neuendorf next week. After three failed tournaments (World Cup 2018, Euro 2021, and World Cup 2022), the Bierhoff regime is rapidly running out of excuses. Neuendorf has called for a road-map our of the program's current crisis.

In charge of the editorial stance for Germany's preeminent footballing publication, veteran footballing journalist Matthias Dersch has put together an opinion piece calling the program "a shipwreck in every respect". The headline of Dersch's piece claims that German football has been dwarfed on the global stage and that there is "no improvement in sight."

Dersch continues his tournament post-mortem with the following points, translated directly

I. The constant lack of a "killer instinct." 

"It was by no means limited to Thursday's starters, but there was the failure to ramp up the pressure and score more goals in both the Costa Rica and Japan match after attaining the 1-0. Instead, the German team personally brought the lowly opponent [Costa Rica] - 31st only in the world rankings - back into the game."

"This was emblematic of the past few months under national coach Hansi Flick, in which the lack of killer instinct has been the biggest constant in this selection. The late final spurt did nothing to change that only further proving the fact that it would have been possible to score seven or eight goals against this Costa Rica."

"German football has suffered shipwreck at all levels in this World Cup, which has been so controversial in Germany. This began at the F.A. level, on which President Bernd Neuendorf allowed himself to be beat back by FIFA in the armband dispute. Instead of swiftly addressing the issue, the DFB allowed it to snowball until it completely overshadowed the sporting preparations and also caused disgruntlement within the team."

"Above all, captain Manuel Neuer, who had already declared his support for the "One Love" clasp in Qatar, stood exposed."

II. The Zulal Wellness Resort as a symbol of the disconnect

"Oliver Bierhoff's misjudgments were even more serious. The director of the country's national teams didn't neither prepared nor informed himself ahead of the armband dispute. More importantly, he must once again take some criticism for not being intelligent in his choice of the team's accommodation, just as was the case in 2018."

"Once again, the DFB team sheltered in its own bubble, far away from the actual tournament action. The Zulal Wellness Resort was representative of the German team's remoteness - for which Bierhoff has been responsible for years without incurring any consequences. Neither after the embarrassing World Cup exit in 2018 nor after the failure in the European Championship round-of-16 in 2021."

"Bierhoff has done little beyond changing the national coach far too late. Hansi Flick - whose appointment was met with a lot of positive feedback - was nevertheless not a reformer and innovator after the crippling end of Joachim Löw's era, but rather 'business as usual' man in sporting terms."

III. Flick's reputation as a winner takes a serious hit

"Stay the course - even now? There is still a year-and-a-half to go before the European Championship in on German soil, which, according to organizer Philipp Lahm, is to be the 'best ever. There is no time for a comprehensive rebuild. Hansi Flick's part in this latest disgraceful elimination must thus be analyzed all the more quickly."

"In Qatar, Flick's supposed 'halo' has been knocked off his head. He made a mess of the World Cup opener against Japan with his defensive personnel changes prior to the match and his changes in the second half, during which the DFB team lost the game after the unnecessary subbing off of Ilkay Güdogan.

"While the reaction against Spain was right, all that did was make it all the more incomprehensible that Flick didn't stick to what was going well against Costa Rica. Instead of putting Niclas Füllkrug up front and Lukas Klostermann at right back, the Bundestrainer took the path of least resistance. He kept Thomas Müller as a striker, even though the FCB veteran was at best an against-the-ball presser in this tournament."

"His handling of the Joshua Kimmich situation reveals something even more grave. Since he didn't want to decide against Gündogan or Leon Goretzka, he shifted the six-man, whom he had praised as "one of the best in the world" in his regular position just days before, to the right-back position against Costa Rica."

"The fact that he corrected this mistake at the break was a clear admission of his misjudgement. His plan to play seven Bayern players in his most important game as national team coach didn't work out. Is a footballing trainer who commits such tournament-deciding mistakes really tenable?"

"Important here we have the fact that Flick was also wrong in his direct preparation for the tournament. Creating a sense of unity and defying opposition, as was his great strength as Bayern München head-coach, has proven not to be Flick's strong suit at this World Cup."

"'I know that not everyone is behind us. A lot of shots are being fired against us,' DFB striker Kai Havertz complained before the Spain game. It's likely he probably spoke for the entire team, including the harmony-driven Flick."

"An 'us against the world' attitude failed to emerge from this."

IV. The pre-tournament days in Oman were not well used. 

"In sporting terms, there was no sign of a well-rehearsed team spirit. The preparation camp was short, but this was true for all participating teams and cannot be used as an excuse. It should be questioned whether the days in Oman, during which the DFB team recovered and acclimatized, would not have been better used for tactical preparation. Instead of using the test fixture against the hosts (1-0) as a dress rehearsal, Flick rotated wildly. The consequences are now evident."

"If Flick wishes to continue and fulfill his contract, as he expressed the wish to do in his pre-kickoff interview, he will have to answer unpleasant questions: Will he continue to rely on the veterans Neuer and Müller, who demonstrated problems this time and will be 38 and almost 35 years old, respectively, at the 2024 European Championship? Will the Bayern duo even withdraw voluntarily? Müller indirectly hinted at his departure immediately after the game.

Who will take responsibility on the pitch in the future? And which talented players can he rely on to form the core of the reshaped team in a year and a half's time? No major changes are to be expected within the squad - there is simply no substructure. Flick can't be held responsible for the shortcomings in the youth sector, which is most acutely expressed in the lack of full-backs and center forwards. Nevertheless, he should work on it."

"One thing is clear in view of the multitude of sporting and administrative problems: things will not get any easier for the 57-year-old and his team in the future. The World Cup exit in Qatar gave him a more than bitter foretaste of this. Business as usual will not suffice."

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