Random thoughts: Despair, fuelled by denial and delusion

Before I set down to write my in depth analysis and churn out a post-match video piece, I will share some stream of consciousness stuff here. A lot of the time, I post a reply to somebody else, and just start typing. Whatever is in my head started flowing through my fingers onto the keyboard.

In a response to a comment made by a fellow fan, a guy who is as passionate as I am of both FC Bayern and the Mannschaft, I wrote the following – with a few edits. I am not going to go back to my ultra-critical self on the back of one poor result, but it has been building for a while.

Flaccid, insipid, clueless

Today’s defeat against Mexico. Let us get the basics out of the way first. Mexico were great. They juggled their game plan, even changed it, and combined great disruptive play with focussed and sprightly counterattacking. I will say it again. They were brilliant. El Tri coach Juan Carlos Osorio, and his team, had pulled off a major coup. Hats off to them.

By the same token, Germany were flaccid, insipid, clueless and as sharp as a rusty spoon. An midfield that was absent, a defence that could very easily have conceded half a dozen, and an attack that had clearly misplaced its compass.

The problem is Jogi Löw. The thing is, up until 2014 I used to be a pretty harsh critic. Maybe too critical, when I go back to some of the stuff I wrote after the Italy game at Euro 2012 and the heart attack inducing Algeria game in 2014.

After the triumph in Rio in 2014, I decided to cut Jogi some slack. In fact, I made this something of a mission. For all of the criticism, the guy had gone and won the World Cup. I understood that I could never really become a massive fan, but happily put my critic’s hat back in the bottom drawer.

This turned into complacency on my part as a pundit, in that I sort of bought into the “in Jogi we trust” thing. I could see that things were starting to wobble and creak in some of the latter qualifiers, such as the otherwise forgettable 2-1 win in the Czech Republic – the game where the crappy show on the pitch was outweighed by the nonsense off it.

Sense of delusion

As we went 10/10 in the qualifiers, I dismissed the issues bubbling in my head about the team starting to lose focus, and the coach’s failure to adapt to what was a growing set of issues.

Then came the friendlies against England and France. One where we were dominated by a young and largely inexperienced side, and the other where we escaped defeat with a last gasp equaliser. At the time, the team had gone 20-odd games and almost two years unbeaten. So yes, I again dismissed the issues that might have triggered me pre-2014.

Then came the Spain game, where we just about did enough to get a draw at home. Again, I dismissed he problems with the defence and the growing inability to produce in front of goal. This was followed by the defeat against Brazil. “It’s Brazil. They’re pretty good” was my first thought. Followed by “it’s only a friendly”.

Yes, that old chestnut, which only helped fuel the sense of delusion.

Meanwhile, the issues were getting worse. Not only was the defence wobblier than ever, the inability to create and finish chances was getting worse. Then there was the Erdoğan shitstorm, which couldn’t have helped matters. The vibes I got were in stark contrast to 2014, even with Bastian Schweinsteiger being made to share a room with Kevin Großkreutz in the Brazilian jungle.

South of denial

Then came the Austria defeat. It was utterly shambolic, but again I cast my doubts aside by repeating the “it was only a friendly” mantra. I did make a point of targeting where we needed to improve, but I put my trust in Jogi to get it right. The coach continued to stick to his guns; while before I might have described this as bloody minded intransigence – the work of the Maharishi Jogi – I chose to back his decisions. 2014 and all that, right?

Hot on the tail of the soggy display in Klagenfurt was the utterly dire final home sendoff against Saudi Arabia. After a decent enough start, it was a case of more of the same old Scheisse. It is only by the Saudis being utterly dreadful that we were not coming into this tournament on the back of six games without a win. It could – and should – have finished 2-2.

But still I chose the path of denial. In fact, I was so far south of denial that I felt a little like John Hanning Speke.

Today, the chickens came to roost. Not just roost, but peck sharply at my eyes. Germany played a half decent team in a major competition, and were shown up. Badly. To the point where the team looked like rank amateurs, and where players were left making their own post-match comments that can be interpreted as being borderline critical of the coach.

What comes next? I will discuss that in my next, and perhaps more structured, analysis. Right now I will just let my stream of consciousness take me to wherever it leads. Which is back at Euro 2012, when I was crying into my post-Balotelli beer.

Random thoughts: Despair, fuelled by denial and delusion
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12 thoughts on “Random thoughts: Despair, fuelled by denial and delusion

  • June 18, 2018 at 18:09

    OK, here’s an odd thought which may get me some grief from S&W adherents.

    Play “A” Team and the worn out style (with some tactical adjustments) against Sweden and South Korea, while preparing a modified “B” Team (players and strategy) resembling the Confederations Cup as closely as possible for the knock-out stages. You have 11 of the “B” Team on the current roster.

    I strongly suspect the “B” Team from last year would have won yesterday.

    This type of dual preparation would not be easy for die Mannschaft, but then again, it would also frustrate opponents preparing to face the team that showed up on the pitch yesterday.

    If this sounds too odd, at least I can claim sleep deprivation.

    • June 18, 2018 at 18:44

      Only difference from confederations cup is the way Mexico played. Last year they underestimated the Mannschaft and played an open game which left them vulnerable at the back. Yesterday they played defensively with smart counter attacking which made it very didficult for us to score.

      • June 18, 2018 at 19:50

        Sam, it is very true as you point out, that Mexico quite ably adjusted their play from CC to WM, but IIRC, our “B” team showed more flexibility in play and could more quickly have adjusted. Again, if I remember correctly, we used a different formation, that allowed us to pinch off counterattacks more quickly. I know S&W readers who better remember will correct me if I am wrong.

        One thing that I don’t think is debatable is that the “B” squad was quicker and better able to cut off counterattacks due to team speed, even if not having a better tactical alignment and adjustments.

        (This discussion makes me want to go back and watch the CC matches still on my DVR.)

        • June 18, 2018 at 22:15

          True, Löw played a 3-4-2-1 formation in the CC in some of the games. You can’t really counter attack if the other team is attacking with 3-4 players only. The issues yesterday can be summarized as:

          1- The passing was off, partly because of the clever positioning of the Mexican Midfield, making it difficult to build moves from the back.

          2- The Mexicans did not just shoot the ball forward whenever they got it back in defense, they kept it or passed it only to un-marked attackers. This is a the most damaging answer to Löw’s possession based systems, Hummels, Boateng, Kimmich, who are used to getting the ball back too easily in the Bundesliga, were not able to do that yesterday. They tried and failed to close down the Mexicans quickly, leaving the defense vulnerable every time,

          3- Plattenhardt: The Invisible man yesterday. If you take a player to the world cup, there should be some use for him. 90% of our attacks were on Kimmich’s side, and the 10% on the left were done only by Draxler. Even in defense, he was invisible and failed to support the two center halves.

          4- Lack of attacking options: Löw took seven attacking midfielders and strikers(Gomez, Werner, Muller, Brandt, Ozil, Rues, Draxler, and they all played yesterday and failed to score. What’s next?

          • June 18, 2018 at 23:06

            Sam, thanks for confirming that I correctly remembered a different tactical formation in the CC.

            And your points 1, 2, and 3 are right on the mark. Regarding 3, when I heard Hector had the flu, I got more nervous and texted such to my buddies. IMHO, Hector has much greater situational awareness than Plattenhardt. Would Germany have tied, or even won, had he played can be debated. However, I think Hector would have been much more likely to help contain counterattacks than Plattenhardt. His assistance to the center backs and Draxler couldn’t have been worse.

            As for your question in 4, I’ll just dream of German goals galore! And sometimes dreams do come true!

    • June 18, 2018 at 22:19


      That is just the sort of sleep-deprived theory that needs to be factored into the discussion. It would be confusing, for sure.

  • June 18, 2018 at 09:25

    I have never stopped criticizing Jogi Löw, especially with his choice of players. I was saying to myself when he chose the final 23, I hope there doesn’t come a moment in the tournament where he says “I wish we had someone like Leroy Sane who’s skill can make a difference”. I did not imagine that moment will come in the very first match. Not that it was a one player problem, but Löw has fielded all his attacking players, all six of them. Come to think of it, he has no more tricks in his hat.

    The one dimensional approach to this possession system was always going to backfire at some point ( Spain in 2010, Bayern under Guardiola, Barcelona conceding 7 goals to Bayern in two games). Mexico studied it well, and had the belief and the preparation to counter it.

    Löw has said that there is no need to panic, and that he will not change his system. That is exactly the kind of thing that a deluded individual would say. This is the kind of complacency and denial that we used to see and criticize in other teams, not die Mannschaft. I wonder how Löw’s legacy will be effected, if Germany were not to finish in the top 8, the very first time since 1938(1930 and 1950 Germany did not participate)

    • June 18, 2018 at 21:07

      Totally agree…it seems like the Nationalelf AND Bayern are still living in some delusional
      fantasy of trying to play like Pep’s Barcelona…and it’s still not working!!
      Give me last year’s Confed Cup brand of football any day over this tired, boring, flaccid schiesse!!

    • June 20, 2018 at 06:04

      No offence but did I miss the story of Leroy Sane The Greatest Game-changer of Die Mannschaft?

      • June 20, 2018 at 17:30

        Haha! It didn’t crop up in my sleep babbling thoughts, but does in the following in-depth analysis. As well as a bizarre comparison of Sané with Ibra.

  • June 18, 2018 at 06:31

    Great article Rick. Telling it like it is. The pattern is visible to all of us that realistically take a look at it!

  • June 18, 2018 at 05:33

    Some of the team selections for 2012 Euro were bizarre like not sticking with Klose who was introduced late in 2014. Low win it all in Brazil but could have lost to Ghana and Algeria.
    Low had no plan on how to change the game once the team had fallen behind. Gomez arrived too late to be a factor. Left back was invisible.
    Not clear if Low can turn it around


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