Archive for March, 2012

If he were to go, who would replace Joachim Löw?

Following this list of managers from within the national team setup who could replace Joachim Low, either now or in the future, the is also a very distinct possiblilty the replacement will come from a coach at club level.

Allan Edgar, of Bundesliga Football, said: “There is a wealth of talent in Germany at the moment with regards to coaching. Although there’s no shortage of potential targets – Klopp in particular has shown his clear ability again this year whilst Tuchel, Slomka and Favre all deserve mentions – there is no inclination yet as to who will be offered the position given the length of time Löw is expected to remain at the helm.”

Here’s a look at five club managers who could be in the frame…

Jurgen Klopp

At 44, he is young in terms of age – only two years older than Freund – but already has over a decade in management to his name. Played over 300 games for Mainz 05 between 1990 and 2001, before taking over as manager after hanging up his boots. Under him they qualified for the 2005/06 Uefa Cup, but were also relegated in 2007. Kept his job after relegation, but left after they failed to gain promotion. He became manager of Dortmund in 2008, and has set about transforming the side – culminating with last season’s Bundesliga win, a feat they look set to repeat this season. If Germany were to replace Low from outside the national setup, he’d surely be the favourite.

Heiko Vogel

Worked for almost ten years at various levels within Bayern Munich’s youth system, after studying to become a sports teacher/coach. He was assistant to Thorsten Fink at Ingolstadt 04, and followed him to FC Basel in 2009. Got the top job at the Swiss club when Fink left for Hamburg SV. Has taken Basel to the last-16 of the Champions League, and overseen famous victories over Manchester United and Bayern Munich. At 36, he’d represent a big risk, but is a talented manager with a big future in the game.

Thorsten Fink

Won four Bundesliga titles and the Champions League as a player with Bayern Munich, and has since set about working his way up the managerial ladder. Started out with Red Bull Salzburg, before moving on to Ingolstadt and then making his name at Basel, where – with Vogel alongside him – he won back-to-back Swiss Super League titles. Currently in charge of HSV, they sit a somewhat disappointing 14th, but there’s no denying he’s one of the best up-and-coming young managers in German club football.

Thomas Tuchel

After his playing career in the lower-leagues was cut short by injury, he began working with the U19 side of Stuttgart, and then performing a similar role with the youth teams of FC Augsburg. Was appointed Head Coach of Mainz 05 in 2009, and has since done remarkably well, including a 5th place finish last year. At only 38 and two years in the Bundesliga, he has an extremely bright future, which may well include the national job at some point down the line – but it’s unlikely to be anytime in the near future.

Ralf Rangnick

A long and extensive career in management has saw Rangnick have spells in charge of Stuttgart, Hannover, Hoffenheim and two with Schalke – to name a few in a career that has so far lasted over 20 years – including some player/manager roles in the lower-leagues early on, although he did not enjoy a particularly successful playing career. He guided Schalke to the semi finals of the Champions League with a two-legged win over Inter Milan, but stepped down in September due to health reasons. He actually missed out on the role of Germany’s assistant to Joachim Low back in 2004, but could now be the man who replaces him. Given he cited exhaustion as the reason for leaving Schalke, international management could be perfect for him – but it remains to be seen whether he’ll be considered perfect for it.

Joachim Löw: which direction will Germany go in to replace him?

There’s no denying Joachim Löw has done a remarkable job since his appointment as Germany manager back in 2006– which has included reaching the final of Euro 2008 and the semi finals of the 2010 World Cup; in the process building one of the most exciting young sides in international football.

Despite reports linking him to the Chelsea job, Löw has seemingly implied he will be seeing out his contract with Germany – which runs until 2014. However, while it’s unlikely he will leave now, he will do at some point.

Terry Duffelen, of The Bundesliga Show podcast, said: “The replacement may be within the existing coaching structure of the DFB, rather than a successful club coach.”

Below are five people who, like Löw was, could be promoted from within the current national team setup to become manager if/when he does leave.

Rainer Adrion

If Germany decide to once again appoint from ‘within’, then Adrion is likely to be at the forefront of their minds. Like Low, both played for and managed Stuttgart on his way to working with Germany, and is currently doing very good things with the U21 side – although failure to qualify for the 2011 U21 European Championships may well be held against him.

Horst Hrubesch

Adrion’s predecessor at U21 level, he not only took them to the European Championships in 2009, but won the competition as well. He also took charge of the U19 squad on their way to winning the 2008 U19 European Championships, so perhaps a shot at managing the senior side is both deserved and a natural progression. Could also help that he had a successful playing career, including winning the European Championship in 1980.

Frank Wormuth

Been combining his role with the Germany U20 side with that of head instructor at the Hennes-Weisweiler-Academy, teaching the Uefa Pro Licence. Has relatively little experience in terms of actual management, and less playing experience than most on this list. However, certainly has plenty of ability as a coach – given he trains them.

Christian Ziege

With a playing career that saw him win over 70 caps and Euro 96 with Germany, as well as spells with Bayern Munich, Milan and Liverpool (to name but a few), he’s certainly a well-known and popula figure in Germany. Worked in various coaching positions at Borussia Monchengladbach after his playing days ended, before getting his first managerial job at Arminia Bielefeld. However, under him they experienced the worst start to a season in more than 20 years. Has been rebuilding his reputation with the German U18 side, but at just 40 years is probably a decade away from the top job.

Steffan Freund

Like Ziege, enjoyed a successful playing career, and was a part of the same Euro 96 winning side, while also winning two Bundesliga titles and the Champions League with Borussia Dortmund. Like Ziege again, however, he has little managerial experience and, for all his good work within the German youth setup, he’s probably a bit too young. Expect him and Ziege to be competing for the top job in ten years’ time.

Many watched in wonder as Germany destroyed England and then Argentina at the 2010 World Cup.

Back then it was only Spain – who also defeated Germany in the final of Euro 2008 – who could stop Die Mannschaft.

Spain were, of course, the best team in the world and were recognised as such by winning the tournament.

Whilst they’re still favourites for Euro 2012, they should be worried. Because Germany are even better than they were two years ago.

This view was expanded on by Michael Cox, editor of Zonal Marking, who said: “Three months ago I thought they were favourites. Now I think Spain are ‘faves’ again, although I think they’re less complete than many think.

“Holland are either very average or ruthlessly efficient – I couldn’t decide at the WC, I can’t decide now. Germany are second favourites, I think.”

Out have gone Per Mertesacker and Arne Friedrich – the weak spots of the 2010 side – and in are Mats Hummels and Holger Badstuber, two of the most talented young centre backs in world football.

Manuel Neuer, very good back then, is now probably in the top three goalkeepers around, while at the other end Mario Gomez has been an absolute goal machine.

It is in midfield, however, that Germany has an embarrassment of riches.

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira ran the show from midfield in 2010, despite being just 25 and 22 respectively.

Schweinsteiger has had injury problems of late, but he should be fit and firing come the Euros, and if that is the case then he will again be the heartbeat of the side. Khedira, meanwhile, hasn’t enjoyed the success of his compatriot Mesut Ozil since they both made the move to Real Madrid, but his experience in South Africa should stand him in good stead.

Khedira’s spot is likely to come under threat from Toni Kroos, who has been a revelation for Bayern in the absence of Schweinsteiger and is developing into a top class playmaker. Euro 2012 could well do for Kroos what the World Cup did for Khedira. Then there are the Bender twins, Lars and Sven, who have been in great form for their clubs.

The midfielders playing ahead of those, if – as expected – Germany keep with their 4-2-3-1 fomation are an equally mouthwatering, jaw-dropping array of talent.

There’s the aforementioned Ozil, one of the stars of Real Madrid’s season as they have demolished all in their path in La Liga. Thomas Muller – top scorer at the World Cup two years ago isn’t in the best form, but that’s unlikely to make much difference and he’s still a big part of the side.

Lukas Podolski is, at 26, enjoying his best ever season in the Bundesliga and likely to move to Arsenal in the summer. Given his age, his record of 43 goals in 95 internationals is staggering.

Then there’s Mario Gotze, one of, if not the hottest property in world football – and he isn’t even guaranteed a start.

An unbelievable arsenal in both attack and defence, and I haven’t even mentioned the captain Philipp Lahm or Miroslav Klose – the latter is just five goals away from equaling Gerd Muller’s record of 68 goals for Germany.

Then there’s Marco Reus, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Andre Schurrle and more. The hardest part of Löw’s job will be fitting all these players into a 23-man squad and then finding his best XI.

And if he gets that right, then he and the rest of the Germany are likely to be celebrating a fourth European Championship success.

Podolski: Gonna be a Gunner?

Lukas Podolski is all set to leave the comforts of Koln for life in London this summer.

If reports are to be believed, then Podolski will join Arsenal for approximately £10.9m and £100k+ per week.

The big question is not necessarily whether he can cut it in the Premier League, but whether he can cut it at any club that isn’t FC Koln.

This is because a move to Arsenal won’t be the first time ‘Poldi’ has moved to a ‘big’ club; they won’t even be the biggest side he has left Koln for.

In 2006, following Die Geißböcke’s relegation to 2.Bundesliga, the frontman moved to Bayern Munich in a deal reportedly worth €10m.

At the same time, he was bursting on to the international scene, with some standout performances at the 2006 World Cup – including thee goals – helping Germany to third place and himself to the Best Young Player award.

While many struggle to replicate their club form for their country, it was the opposite for Podolski, as he failed to repeat his efforts for Germany in the colours of Munich.

Despite his poor form with Bayern, he continued with his contrasting performance for the national side. Germany finished as runners-up at Euro 2008, with Podolski scoring three goals for the second major tournament in a row, and being named in the 23-man squad of the tournament.

His three-season stint in Bavaria ended with a very poor return of 26 goals in 106 games in all competitions (15 in 71 in the Bundesliga), and he moved back to Koln for a similar fee to the one they originally sold him for.

His move back to Koln should have been the return of the king, but in his first season it was more like the clown prince than Prinz Poldi (as he is known in Cologne) as he scored just three goals in the entire season.

Despite that, he was still selected for Joachim Löw’s 2010 World Cup squad, scoring two goals from his now familiar position on the left to help Germany reach the semi-finals.

Since then, though, he has looked better than ever, and is currently enjoying his best season in the Bundesliga. He so far has 16 goals, which is his highest tally, and one that will surely be added to.

At 26, he is at somewhat of a crossroads. He is, domestically, in the form of his life, but at international level his place has perhaps never been under greater threat – such is the rise to prominence of the likes of Mario Götze and Marco Reus.

A move to Arsenal will give him the chance to prove the doubters wrong, that he can do it not only outside of Cologne but outside of Germany as well. And it could just be the thing that keeps him ahead in the national team pecking order.

He will fit well into Arsenal’s system, presumably playing on the left of the two or three behind Robin van Persie (if he stays), in the role that has been occupied by Gervinho this season.

He certainly has the ability to succeed. Whether he does or not will all come down to his mentality. He’s shown signs of maturing this season; next year will be the time for him to prove it.

“Poldi can lack tactical discipline and is used to being number one at Cologne. If he can settle in North London, accept that he is a cog in a larger wheel and do as he is told then he has the ability to make a significant contribution to the Arsenal team.” Terry Duffelen, German football blogger and co-host of the podcast Bundesliga Show. Twitter: @bundesbag.

The video below shows Arsenal fans exactly what they’ll be getting: