Rudi Völler succeeds what Hansi Flick tried in vain. He makes the fans happy. On an evening for football romantics, the DFB team shows European Championship qualities. But who will continue the work?
A visibly exhausted Rudi Völler, longing for rest, rewarded himself after his magical comeback as team boss.
“I’ll be honest, I’m taking a little time out,” said the 63-year-old after the 2-1 win against runner-up France, which made the fans in the Dortmund stadium and in front of the TVs happy after months of German football sadness and gave the national team the long-awaited reversal boost for the 2024 European Championship in game one after Hansi Flick.
Völler quickly canceled his trip to Berlin for the DFL’s “60 Years of the Bundesliga” celebration in Berlin. “Normally I would have driven, but I didn’t know that I would be on the bench against France,” said Völler. It may also have been a clever defensive measure to avoid the risk of being persuaded by Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the league gala that evening to carry on out of national interest. As is well known, Völler has a hard time saying no.
The priority is to find a trainer
At the end of the wonderful evening in Dortmund, he saw himself again in the role of DFB sports director. After a short recovery phase, he wants to find Flick’s successor with DFB President Bernd Neuendorf and DFL Supervisory Board Chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke. And it shouldn’t be called Völler permanently. He didn’t want to shake his one-time temporary position on the coaching bench. During the trip to the USA in October with the tests against the USA and Mexico, someone else will be the boss on the sidelines.
“My wish would be if we could introduce the new national coach by the next international match period. That would of course be the ideal case,” said Völler. He liked it better up in the stands, as he confirmed when asked. “Yes! Yes! It doesn’t change the result,” he said despite the victory: “It’s very clear to me.”
Völler: “The overall package is very strenuous”
For all other DFB decision-makers too? Völler gave understandable reasons why he is shying away from the nine-month effort leading up to the European Championships. “It was very tiring. I’ll be honest, it was a stressful few days,” he said, referring to the hectic release of national coach Flick, the rapid preparation for the French and 90 grueling minutes in the coaching zone. Afterwards, Völler seemed at least as exhausted as his players.
“It’s not just about one game, that’s not a problem, I’ll manage it,” he said, seeking understanding: “The whole package was very strenuous.” He was moved by the vote from the stands (“There is only one Rudi Völler”). Völler, Hannes Wolf, Sandro Wagner – the audience would have spontaneously approved of this substitute trio until the European Championships.
Actively supported by young sports director and U20 selection coach Wolf as well as ex-national player Wagner, Völler managed to break the negative trend in his jovial way. “Rudi has an incredible presence. And Hannes and Sandro adjusted us well,” said goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen appreciatively, who spoke after the awakening experience of “balm for the soul after such strange days.”
Thomas Müller, who had made the game favorable with his early 1-0 win against the French, who were without Kylian Mbappé, and was able to celebrate his 34th birthday in a good mood after his 45th international goal, spoke of “an emotional release” after five previously Winless games, frustration and self-doubt. “We were already carrying a heavy load with us,” admitted the Bayern attacker.
DFB Dino Völler, the eternal Müller and the revival of German virtues – it was also an evening for football romantics. Ten million watched on ARD, a top rating. The game was proof that it doesn’t take much to unite a team around a goal and a collective work ethic and to unite the grateful fans behind you. Fight and win, garnished with playful highlights with the goals from Müller and Leroy Sané. But one thing is also clear: Even after a win against the top favorites for the European Championship, the German team will not immediately be a co-favorite in the home tournament.
Völler made a few simple changes with his helpers Wolf and Wagner, who had traveled by car from Poland from the U20 team in a night-and-dagger operation. Clear system, clear distribution of tasks, clear route. And above all, defend vigorously. Jonathan Tah and Benjamin Henrichs, who were new to the starting line-up, were not the only ones who did this in an exemplary manner. “We fought wonderfully,” Völler rejoiced after the final whistle.
Who will take over the DFB team?
And now? Völler doesn’t want to be persuaded to do an encore. DFB boss Neuendorf wants an “assertive” and “resilient” coach. Julian Nagelsmann? “Julian is a good coach, a good person too,” said Bayern attacker Sané about his former club coach: “Let’s see what happens, whether he’s up for it.” Nagelsmann would be a rather expensive solution for the cash-strapped DFB, even if Bayern, where the 36-year-old is still on the payroll, have signaled benevolent behavior.
Stefan Kuntz, currently the Turkish national coach, could be a charming and cheaper solution, as a Völler replacement in the trio with Wolf and Wagner, so to speak. A first foreign national coach in DFB history, such as the Dutchman Louis van Gaal, who was sponsored by former world champions Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm, also remains a conceivable option. “It is important that it is a German-speaking national coach. And of course it has to be a top man. That is the most important coaching job in our country,” said Völler. He himself filled it perfectly for one (?) evening.