Stay of executions don’t come any worse than a final game against France to keep your job.
Unfortunately for Germany manager Hansi Flick, that’s what awaits him at Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday night, setting up the most brutal of goodbyes.
France have bounced back from their World Cup final loss with a return to their insatiable best and a five game win streak without a goal conceded.
Meanwhile Germany’s ultimate low in exiting the group stages of Qatar 2022 turned out to only be the beginning.
There was a brief respite with a 2-0 win over Peru in their first post-World Cup game, but since then it’s been a single draw and four defeats, the worst of which was dealt by Japan last night at Wolfsburg’s Volkswagen Arena.
Already 2-1 down and comprehensively outplayed by a team that did the same in Qatar in November, two stoppage time goals added an exclamation mark on a night from hell.
Flick – the 2020 European treble winner with Bayern Munich – even seemingly lost the support of his only backer at the German football association, goalscoring legend Rudi Voller.
“We’re all a little in shock,” admitted Voller. “Losing 4-1 is an embarrassment, and it was well deserved. I don’t want to deny anyone’s effort. But a defeat like that hurts.
“Now we’re going back to the quarters, calming down a bit and training a bit tomorrow. We have another difficult game against France on Tuesday.”
Astonishingly admitting Germany are no longer one of Europe’s top teams, Voller was asked what happens next and could only muster: “We’ll see.”
Well sleep on it Voller did, and Flick remained in place for an open training session in Wolfsburg, with 3,500 fans in attendance to offer their support.
That very much wasn’t the case hours before, though, with Germany not only booed during the game, but Flick’s post-match on-pitch interview disrupted by a baying mob.
Crucially for the 58-year-old, it’s not just the fans, but the media, and his friends in it too.
An exclusive column by BILD’s editor Matthias Brugelmann called Flick ‘the worst national coach of all time’ while even his ultimate backer, Lothar Matthaus, admitted his time has run out.
But, showing just how bad Germany’s malaise is, was Matthaus having to distance himself from the job, having not managed a team since 2011.
Instead he attempted to pass the baton to who seems to be the favourite, Borussia Dortmund legend Matthias Sammer, whose last coaching role dates back even further to 2005.
Jurgen Klopp continues to be linked, even on a part-time basis, but 2014 World Cup winner Lukas Podolski seems to have the only sensible idea.
“Julian Nagelsmann is the only one on the market,” he said. “He knows most of the guys, recently coached a top team – that’s the solution.
Podolski added: “If there is no success or a significant increase in performance [against France] the heads at the DFB will crumble.”
The France game at Dortmund is one of four planned friendlies before Germany host Euro 2024 next summer, in just nine months’ time.
If Flick is still in place by then, or even on Wednesday morning, some kind of miracle will have had to have taken place to avoid what looks set to be yet another historical embarrassment.
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