Euro 2004: Football talents don’t grow on trees

25th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

25 June 2004, HAMBURG - Ottmar Hitzfeld was not yet installed as national team coach when the first doubts were raised on Friday whether he could really become saviour of German football two years ahead of the home World Cup.

25 June 2004

HAMBURG - Ottmar Hitzfeld was not yet installed as national team coach when the first doubts were raised on Friday whether he could really become saviour of German football two years ahead of the home World Cup.

”Hitzfeld doesn’t really seek success with very young players. When matters got critical in Munich he called out for new stars,” said the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily in an editorial.

”He won’t be able to do that in the national team. There he has take what’s available.”

Hitzfeld, 55, is the most successful club coach in Bundesliga history, with six league titles, two German cups and a European Champions League trophy with each club during his 12 years at the helm at Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.

As a result he is the number 1 candidate to become Germany coach in the wake of Rudi Voeller’s resignation Thursday following a winless elimination at Euro 2004 in Portugal.

Praise was heaped on the popular Voeller for the last time for his stylish retreat after four years to give way for an unscarred man to take charge.

The players were not treated so nicely, and that is where Hitzfeld’s dilemma starts.

”The team is the main problem. It must play better football,” said Theo Zwanziger, vice president of the ruling body DFB.

Apart from left back Philipp Lahm, playmaker Michael Ballack and teenager Bastian Schweinsteiger no one in the German squad lived up to the occasion of a big tournament.

The Bild daily called for the swift removal of several olders players such as Jens Nowotny, Dietmar Hamann and Fredi Bobic.

The report said that teenage striker Lukas Podolski deserved another chance up front and called for the inclusion of other youngsters like Andreas Hinkel.

But it remains unclear just how far a coach can go in reshaping a so far average team, how many young players can be included in a difficult 24-month buildup without competitive games (apart from the Confederations Cup in 2005) to the World Cup.

The attack is the main problem.

Miroslav Klose scored six goals at the 2002 World Cup but has disappeared into anonymity. Bobic was top scorer in the qualifying session but is also playing poorly. Germany’s best forward Kevin Kuranyi remained scoreless in his three Euro-matches.

Whether the 19-year-old Cologne striker Podolski, hailed as a saviour after just 19 league matches, can deliver remains to be seen.

”If we want to stand a chance at the World Cup in our own country we will have to score a few goals,” said captain Oliver Kahn.

Germany, once feared for forwards such as Gerd Mueller, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Horst Hrubesch and Voeller, has no forward in sight of the calibre of Wayne Rooney, Ruud van Nistelrooy or Thierry Henry.

The Bundesliga has been dominated by foreign scorers and Germany’s best marksman last season, Martin Max from Hansa Rostock, was not selected for Euro given his age of 35.

Max is no candidate for 2006, which means that the new coach, be it Hitzfeld or someone else, has precious few players to chose from.

Kuranyi and Podolski are the only serious options unless Klose regains his form after moving to Bundesliga champions Werder Bremen.

Ballack and his new Bayern Munich team-mate Torsten Frings are set to continue in midfield, while there is some hope for an improvement in quality if Sebastian Deisler finally regains his form and defender Christoph Metzelder returns from a long-term knee injury.

The new coach will start his job with an 18 August friendly in Austria in a first attempt to find the right balance between youth and experience.

”The people will start screaming for young players. But where do I find them? They don’t grow on trees,” said Kahn.

DPA

Subject: German news

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