Nine months before Euro 2024 kicks off in Germany, the hosts have turned to Rudi Voeller to get the team back on track before Tuesday’s friendly against France after coach Hansi Flick was sacked.
Flick became the first Germany coach in history to be relieved of his duties after his side slumped to a 4-1 loss to Japan in Wolfsburg on Saturday, the latest in a run of poor results which included a group-stage exit at the World Cup in Qatar last year.
The German Football Association (DFB) have turned to 1990 World Cup winner Voeller to take over on an interim basis for the friendly against 2022 World Cup finalists France in Dortmund.
While Voeller’s first point of call will be to inject some pride and stability into the struggling team, his broader task is to right the ship before next year’s European Championship on home soil.
Voeller was asked in Dortmund on Monday about whether the well-known statement, commonly attributed to England’s Gary Lineker, that ‘football is a simple game with 11 v 11, and Germany wins at the end’ still rang true.
“Those times are over” Voeller said, “we’ve been booted out at the group stage in the World Cup twice in a row.”
“In the meantime other countries and associations have caught up.”
Voeller, who was part of the Flick set-up as the DFB’s sporting director, was also appointed on an interim basis after Germany’s disastrous group stage exit at Euro 2000.
He took the side all the way to the final at the 2002 World Cup, before losing 2-0 Brazil, but 63-year-old Voeller said on Sunday this time he will not be in the hot seat for long.
Speaking on Monday, Voeller said his appointment was a “one-time thing” and he would not stay on, regardless of the result against France.
“The most urgent task is to hire a national coach who will quickly get the team back on track and prepare us for the big European Championships next year,” Voeller said on Sunday.
He said the sacking was “not an easy moment for me… I joined in February to support Hansi Flick so that he could be successful.”
“I firmly believed that as a national coach he could manage to get our team back on track.”
Germany captain Ilkay Gundogan said on Monday the players were feeling “a mixture of disappointment, sadness and frustration” that their performances cost the coach his job.
“I feel like I let Hansi down and the other players feel that way also.”
Voeller will be assisted by Germany Under-20s manager Hannes Wolf and former Bayern striker Sandro Wagner.
Several candidates have been mentioned to take the position on a permanent basis, with Julian Nagelsmann, who replaced Flick at Bayern Munich only to be sacked in March, believed to be the frontrunner.
Oliver Glasner, who took Eintracht Frankfurt to the Europa League title in 2022 — their first European trophy in 40 years—and Matthias Sammer, who won the Bundesliga as Borussia Dortmund coach in 2002, have also been mentioned.
Voeller will need to start by giving the struggling side some defensive stability.
Germany are winless in five matches, having conceded 13 goals in that time.
Led by a front-line which could include the attacking firepower of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Randal Kolo Muani, Marcus Thuram and Kingsley Coman, Tuesday’s opponents France will be salivating at the space Germany afforded Japan on Saturday.
Unlike Germany, Didier Deschamps men are in blistering form, having won their past five Euro 2024 qualifying matches without conceding a goal.
Deschamps played alongside Voeller in the Marseille side which won the 1993 Champions League title. On Monday, Deschamps praised his one-time teammate’s “dynamism and determination which he still has.”
“I value him very much. It’s a great pleasure for me that I will meet him again on Tuesday.”
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