The beginning was full of harmony: When Hansi Flick took up his job as national coach on August 1, 2021, everyone thought it was a good decision. The DFB, experts, journalists, fans – no one had the slightest doubt that Flick was the right man after the painfully long end of the Löw era.
As an assistant coach, Flick played a major role in Germany becoming world champions in 2014. Flick was the coach who pulled off a miracle as he led Bayern to six incredible titles in one season in 2020. Flick was the guy who was well received by almost everyone. Everybody's darling. If a marketing agency had designed a perfect coach for the DFB two years ago, someone like Hansi Flick would have come out.
At the DFB and then sports director Oliver Bierhoff, Flick was considered to have been called upon to lead the German national team back into a glorious future after the botched World Cup in Russia in 2018 (exit after the preliminary round) and the disappointing European Championship in 2021 (exit in the round of 16).
Apparently no one at the DFB wanted to see that the picture quickly developed cracks. As well as? The first international matches in World Cup qualification were all victorious. The opponents (Liechtenstein, Armenia, Iceland, Romania, North Macedonia) were all lower-class and therefore not a benchmark, but the successes made it difficult to assess the true performance. But the first doubts arose when the first tougher opponents were waiting for the DFB team. Only draws were achieved against the Netherlands, Italy, England and Hungary.
Apart from a 5:2 victory against a weak Italy in the Nation League, the German national team did not win against any opponent worth mentioning. That went on until the World Cup in Qatar at the end of 2022. The same problems were there then as they are today: weak defenses, a lack of goal risk, numerous individual mistakes and no solutions for the midfield (with or without Gündogan?) There were indications even before the World Cup that Flick apparently had difficulties implementing his ideas about football with this team.
At the same time, Flick kept putting off the future. And everyone believed him. How can a coach who wins six titles in one season with FC Bayern be wrong?
But the World Cup in Qatar showed that Flick was ultimately overwhelmed by his job. At the same time, the discussions about the rainbow band made it even more difficult for him to find a line. The fact that he received little support from a weak DFB leadership made the situation worse. But it doesn't change the fact that Flick miscoached himself, especially in the first group game against Japan, when he took Gündogan out of a 1-0 lead and brought Goretzka on instead. As a result, the German team's game famously collapsed and Germany lost. Qatar ended in disaster.
The Amazon documentary "All or Nothing", which delivers haunting and depressing images from the team hotel in the middle of the desert, makes it clear how Flick lost the team. And was unable to counteract it. The pictures confirm what we always suspected. Something had gone terribly wrong in the desert.
But after the debacle in Qatar, Flick once again drew on the credit he enjoyed at the DFB and in the media. The myth still persisted: everything will be fine. Flick himself repeatedly emphasized how talented his national players were. But the experiments in the spring, when he threw the team wildly, showed that Flick had lost all sense of the right decisions and the situation. Instead of stabilizing the team through personal consistency and a clear game idea, he experimented like a scientist gone mad who no longer had all the substances in his laboratory under control. Instead of showing ways out of the serious crisis, he made it worse.
There were further announcements that everything would be better after the summer and before the home European Championships in 2024. But the crushing defeat in the friendly against Japan only served to reinforce the sad conclusion: the German team is completely out of control. All of this national coach's weaknesses were brutally exposed again. The attempt to demonstrate strength through tough personnel decisions and the appointment of a new captain were transparent and ineffective. In the game he changed the system and ordered Joshua Kimmich back into the back four. And he put Nico Schlotterbeck in the full-back position. The merciless failure of this measure alone showed that Flick was finished.
Flick was obviously in the right place at the right time as Bayern coach three years ago. As a national coach, he was basically always overwhelmed, even if he defiantly stood in front of the camera after the Japan game and declared that he was exactly the right person. But no one believed him anymore. Rather, the two years after the Löw era were wasted. It will be interesting to see what happens next.