Newly retired German national team midfielder Toni Kroos wasted no time venting on his twitter profile Sunday following derogatory comments directed at him by Uli Hoeneß on Germany's famed television footballing roundtable.
As the Bundesrepublik continues to sift through the post-mortem of the national team's early exit from the European Championships, the back-three utilized by Bundestrainer Joachim Löw remains the focal point for the critics. In addition to all the usual talk of Löw outstaying his welcome, some pundits extend that criticism to the newly retired team talisman Toni Kroos.
The argument holds that Kroos, in not stepping aside sooner, forced Löw into playing the back-three that has now become the subject of such widespread disdain. For example, in his weekly Sky Sports column, fellow national team veteran Lothar Matthäus claimed that Kroos "sucked time and spirit" out of the German game and further criticized Kroos for "taking too little responsibility" after the defeat.
Strong words indeed, but the German footballing public largely knew they could expect much harsher condemnation from the always blunt Uli Hoeneß as soon as the former Bayern executive was given a seat on the country's famed footballing roundtable, "Doppelpass".
Hoeneß noted that Kroos' inclusion directly led to the back-three when given a chance to comment on Sunday's broadcast. The 69-year-old then proceeded to aver that the German team's tactics "totally went to shit" as a result.
Hoeneß argued, as other German footballing pundits have, that the Bayern personnel axes should have been maintained during the tournament. Up front, this meant Müller, Sané, and Gnabry. In midfield, it would have translated to a Leon Goretzka-Joshua Kimmich pairing as soon as the former was fit.
"Had Löw employed Bayern tactics," Hoeneß noted, "then I'm 100 decent certain that we would be in a different situation now. Kroos' way of playing football isn't keeping with the times. It's totally over. He has no place in the sport. Germany played scaredy-cat football."
Kroos wasted little time in responding to the criticism via three tweets on his twitter account. In the first, one the midfielder lashed out at both Hoeneß and Matthäus with a sardonically multi-layered comment.
Uli Hoeneß ist ein Mann mit großem Fußballsachverstand (auch wenn es für RTL nicht gereicht hat), wenig Interesse für Polemik und mit sich komplett im Reinen. Ähnlich wie sein Greenkeeper.— Toni Kroos (@ToniKroos) July 11, 2021
"Uli Hoeneß is a man with great footballing expertise (even if it wasn't enough for RTL) who has little interest in being belligerent and is completely at peace with himself," Kroos wrote in a sarcastic tone, "much like his groundskeeper."
With this statement, Kroos ironically poked fun at the German footballing legends notoriously pugnacious opinionated style. He also poked fun at the Bayern honorary President's short punditry career with broadcaster RTL, which he quit after covering three international fixtures this past March.
The reference to a Hoeneß' "groundskeeper" actually refers to a famous German footballing quote from nearly twenty years ago in which Hoeneß--in 2002--dismissed hiring Matthäus at Bayern in any capacity. At the time, Hoeneß averred that Matthäus "won't even be a groundskeeper" at the soon-to-be-opened Allianz Arena.
Two hours later, Kroos retweeted an article picked up by German journalist Nils Kern from Opta, which documented that no player had completed more passes in the attacking third during the Euros than Kroos.
Das kann Uli H. nicht gefallen. https://t.co/F2gyjKRfBg— Toni Kroos (@ToniKroos) July 11, 2021
Kroos added his own comment to the statistical refutation of his playing style, remarking "Uli can't like that."
Some two hours after that, Kroos retweeted a commentary piece from Spox in which Hoeneß was criticized for making sweeping generalizations about Kroos' play.
The article noted that Hoeneß' so-called "analysis" was born out by the stats. The piece noted that "armchair analysts" at the German "Stammtische" (discussion tables) may have come to these conclusions, but that the nuance of the issue remained much deeper.
The article also contained links to anti-Hoeneß reactions from the internet, including some that asked "How sadistic can Hoeneß be?"
Der Ehrenpräsident des FC Bayern München, Uli Hoeneß, hat bei einem denkwürdigen Auftritt im Sport1-Doppelpass unter anderem die Engländer an sich, die deutsche Taktik bei der EM und Toni Kroos kritisiert. Es waren Aussagen eines menschgewordenen ... https://t.co/ab0nmopGc5— SPOX Redaktion (@spox) July 11, 2021