England must learn from Joachim Low's on-and-off field tacticsby Andy Dillon / 14 October 2016, 10:03
Andy Dillon (@andydillon70) takes a look at Germany's manager Joachim Low, and urges struggling England to take note of the 56-year-old's on-and-off field tactics.
As Germany coach you would have thought Joachim Low the last person to subscribe to Hakuna Matata.
Yet ten years into an incredible job revitalising and maintaining one of world football’s powerhouses, Low could not be more relaxed and carefree.
So much so that during the most recent international break the laid-back boss of the reigning world champions gave his squad a whole night off just days before a key qualifying match.
A few players even took to the theatre in Hamburg and went to take in The Lion King.
It was followed up by a comprehensive 3-0 win over the Czech Republic at the impressive Volksparkstadion and then three days later by a comfortable 2-0 victory against Northern Ireland.
Germany can show off a 100 per cent record from the first three group games on the road to Russia 2018 and Low is now just one win away from immortality.
An expected win against San Marino next month will be his 95th victory and with more wins than any of his predecessors.
Maybe it is because Low is mature and confident enough to let his players behave like grown ups.
Some of them even went for coffee outside the training camp last week to get away from the claustrophobic atmosphere of football.
Low also allowed his 21 man squad to take some time off. Five days before last Saturday’s match against the Czechs was a national holiday in Germany.
The players did not meet up until three days before the game yet they rewarded their manager with two fine displays and a feeling that Germany is getting stronger and stronger.
Low gives them the odd day off. He mixes hard work with feet up time. The players are not treated as ringfenced divas and the result is a firm connection between their feet and the ground.
England’s players are allowed the odd bus trip under close supervision to go and play golf as The FA’s idea of downtime before or in between games.
Other than that it is under lock and key - physical and psychological barriers erected between highly-paid footballers and their public.
All this while the team labours to a goalless draw in Slovenia; rejoices at knocking two past tiny Malta.
Interim England boss Gareth Southgate admits he has inherited a ‘mess’.
Maybe it is tidy up time then Gareth. Perhaps it is about now that those fences keeping England’s underperforming stars out of reach from the fans should start to be dismantled.
Following Tuesday’s emphatic win against Northern Ireland in Hannover, Germany’s players were happy to stop to talk to journalists in the ‘mixed zone’ of the stadium.
There was no need for them to be flanked by suited Germany FA officials surreptitiously recording every word to underline the state of paranoia and panic.
There was no ban on asking questions about the players’ respective clubs. It was calm, efficient and enjoyable - unlike the bunfight of post-England games when the flag goes up on a mad scramble to pick the bones out of another lacklustre performance.
Germany have won a World Cup and reached the finals of the European Championship since Low took over in 2006.
England have become a joke nation on the slide and are flattering themselves to still regard Germany as our football rivals.
Low’s self-confident yet appealing approach and the mature way he handles his players should be a big source of inspiration for Southgate as he pitches for the England job full time.
No country is under greater pressure to win football tournaments than Germany yet Low adopts a problem-free philosophy and the reward is standing on a shelf at German FA HQ in Berlin, having been brought home from Brazil in 2014.