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Germany decades away from return to excellence

On Tuesday evening, a parade of Porsches will disgorge a sorry bunch of individuals at a hotel outside Frankfurt. To be a German international is something of an embarrassment these days, like working for Railtrack. The players are regarded (in the words of their own manager) as the ‘twits of the nation’. If the twits lose their play-offs against Ukraine on 10 and 14 November, Germany will fail to qualify for a World Cup for the first time ever.

That seems likely. The worst German Best Prada Outlet In Milan side in history will be without their three Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Book Bags best midfield players, the injured Mehmet Scholl, Sebastian Deisler and Jens Jeremies (who may never fully recover). Such is the paucity of strikers that the fitness of the clod-hopping Bay ern reserve Carsten Jancker has become a matter of national anxiety.

But Germany’s utter lack of talent doesn’t explain this total collapse. Even the worst German team ever should manage to concede fewer than five goals at home to England, to beat Finland at home, and Authentic Prada Vitello Daino to avoid being outplayed at home by Albania. Some basic tenets of football: ‘marking a striker on the right side, passing accurately over 10 yards, tackling your opponent when he has the ball’ have gone. A tradition has been destroyed.

That tradition began in 1937, when Sepp Herberger became Reichstrainer a year after the national team had humiliated themselves in front of Hitler at the Berlin Olympics. The perfectionist Herberger set a tone that would last decades. In the middle of World War Two, he wrote to his half-back Albert Sing to explain that when heading Sing had an ‘ugly’ habit of jumping into his opponent. ‘Jump in front of the opponent!’ Herberger exhorted Sing, a soldier who would soon be sent to the Russian front. ‘He who jumps first wins the battle in the air.’

Herberger ruled until 1964, his successor Helmut Schön until 1978, Are Prada Handbags Cheaper In Italy and only three more managers followed in the next 20 years. A whiff of farce clings to almost every England manager, but in Germany, as the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote recently, manager of the national team has always been ‘a title that rings with respect, rather like head of Deutsche Bank or president of the Constitutional Court’.

The key players seemed to last forever, too. Fritz Walter dominated the team from 1940 to 1958 (at least when Germany were allowed to play), Franz Beckenbauer followed soon afterwards and won 100 caps, and later Lothar Matthäus was 20 years an international.

The German team were an institution with their own initiation rites. Biggest Prada Store London In the Nazi years, a novice international would be greeted with a practice known as the ‘Holy Ghost’ replica prada clutches, which seems to have consisted of the whole team pulling down his trousers and smacking him on the bottom.

The team stood for a standard of excellence. True, there was booze, poker and illicit sex (in 1980 a Montevideo prostitute was asked at gunpoint to hand back $100, the amount by which she was judged to have overcharged a player) and the players were also always squabbling. But that was the consequence of throwing together driven personalities. Everyone ‘the manager, the press, the other players’ demanded excellence. The German habits of scoring in the last minute, playing worse but winning, and winning on penalties, were nothing to do with luck but with concentration and drive.

The centre-half Jürgen Kohler once told me about his first brush with the standard of excellence. Aged 22, at the European Championship of 1988, Kohler was part of the German side that progressed to the semi-final. There he encountered Marco van Basten, then the world’s best centre-forward, who in the 87th minute found a free yard to score the goal that cost Germany the game.

In England, Kohler might have been turned into a Southgatean hero. In Germany, he was savaged. In his own view, he deserved this, since he had failed to meet the standard of excellence. ‘OK,’ Kohler said to himself, ‘you have to work even harder at yourself to improve.’ Two years of obsessive self-improvement later, he won a World Cup medal.

In the summer and autumn of 1998, the six decades of continuity ended. An ageing Are Prada Mens Shoes Worth It team lost 3-0 to Croatia in the quarter-finals of the World Cup and was then discarded en masse . That autumn Berti Authentic Prada Bag For Sale Ph Vogts, manager of eight years, left after working half a lifetime for the German FA.

Since then managers and players have come and gone. Rudi Völler is the third manager appointed in the three years since Vogts (though one, Christoph Daum, never took office because of his cocaine scandal). In just a year or two, the Bergdorf Goodman Prada Mens Shoes tradition of excellence has been destroyed.

In the past, mediocre German footballers would come to the national team and surpass themselves. Striving to meet the standard of excellence, nobodies won World Cup medals.

But now those days are gone and they’re not so self-assured. Today, perfectly competent footballers come from Bayern Munich or Bayer Leverkusen and shrink in the white shirt. Playing for Germany has become stressful rather than uplifting.

Stefan Effenberg, who by refusing to play for Germany has helped make them appear second-rate, says that watching the team he senses a lack of fire, of arrogance. ‘In the Bicester Village Prada Bag Price Finland game, Oliver Authentic Prada Leather Handbag Kahn was the only player urging the others on with hand gestures,’ Effenberg told the magazine Kicker . ‘If like Oliver Bierhoff I miss two chances, I show a reaction and don’t give the impression of “Oh well, we have another 15 minutes, and if it doesn’t work, we just won’t make it”.’

Rediscovering the Holy Ghost might take decades.