New boss Flick to ‘win back hearts’ as Germany reboot
New head coach Hansi Flick has been tasked with winning back disgruntled Germany fans as he makes his mark on the squad for their World Cup qualifiers.
Flick inherits a team which has plummmeted down the rankings to 16th since crashing out early at the 2018 World Cup and struggled with inconsistent results over the last three years.
After defeat to England in the last 16 of Euro 2020, Joachim Loew stepped down after 15 years in charge and Flick, his assistant coach when Germany won the 2014 World Cup, is now in charge.
Flick’s first three games are World Cup qualifiers away to minnows Liechtenstein on Thursday, then hosting Group J leaders Armenia in Stuttgart on Sunday, before playing Iceland away three days later.
He has been given clear instructions to win back supporters disgruntled by Loew’s failure to turn results around since the World Cup debacle, highlighted by a 6-0 trashing in Spain last November.
“We want to win hearts again, come across as likeable and play successful, dynamic, attractive football,” said Oliver Bierhoff, Germany’s team director.
“During the European Championship, criticism came up again that we seemed a bit passionless. We want to change that.”
Bierhoff said Flick is the right man for the job, because he “understands how to implement his goals, without scaring people away, but brings them along in a unifying way with a clear line”.
In training this week in Stuttgart, Flick has started implementing changes during two daily sessions.
A shock home defeat to North Macedonia last March means Germany are third in their qualifying group, two points behind leaders Armenia.
“We’re a little under pressure,” admitted Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan.
“We want to win all three games, that has to be our yardstick.
“We look forward to going into the games with a new approach.”
Flick’s philosophy involves pressing high up the field and quick counter attacks, like he prefered in two seasons at Bayern Munich, who he steered to a treble of titles in 2019/20.
“Hansi has started teaching us his playing philosophy. It will take a while, but the philosophy suits us,” said Borussia Dortmund midfielder Marco Reus, back in the squad after sitting out Euro 2020.
Flick is also expected to change Germany’s defence, reverting to a back four defence after the they struggled to get to grip with three central defenders.
Manuel Neuer is expected to captain the side on Thursday despite missing training on Monday and Tuesday to rest an ankle knock.
Flick has said he can “well imagine” using Chelsea forward Kai Havertz as a central striker, while Gundogan, 30, used in the defensive midfield at Euro 2020, can expect a more attacking role, like he has at City.