Low out! Germany must sack coach after horrific 2018

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Germany's football team has endured the worst year in their country's history, so how on Earth can the man responsible survive with his job?

A year before their humiliating World Cup exit, Joachim Low remarked that "this team and this victory will go down in history."

His selection of international reserves had won the Confederations Cup for the first time, having left his senior players at home, with then 23-year-old Julian Draxler the most capped member of the travelling party.

By beating Chile in the final, the young Germany side had etched their names in the annals of history. Exciting times seemed to lie ahead, with that Confederations Cup squad including exciting prospects like Leroy Sane, Kerem Demirbay and Benjamin Henrichs.

However, a year later, when the World Cup rolled around, Low decided to revert to the old guard. Demirbay and Henrichs were snubbed from the squad for Russia, while the exclusion of PFA Young Player of the Year Sane made headlines all over the world.

Instead, Low looked to many of his World Cup 2014 winning panel to repeat their success, despite many of his international competitors looking to youth for 2018. Timo Werner was sensational at the Confederations Cup and kept his place for the World Cup, but his striking backup for the return to Russia was to be 32-year-old Mario Gomez.

Despite missing almost the entire season through injury, Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer was not only included in the final 23-man squad, but was also named as Germany's starting goalkeeper. That would have been a forgivable choice if not for the fact that Low had one of the most in-form goalkeepers in the world ready to step in, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen heading to the World Cup on the back of the best season of his career.

Instead, Neuer clearly looked unfit at the World Cup, while Germany’s older players lacked the youthful urgency of their Confederations Cup-winning side. Defeat to Mexico was their first opening-game loss since 1982, a sensational strike from Toni Kroos snatched an undeserved win against Sweden to keep them in the tournament, before an inept outing against South Korea consigned them to their worst World Cup result since 1938.

Manuel Neuer Germany World Cup 2018

After such an embarrassing World Cup group stage exit, any other country would have sacked their manager. But not Germany, not the DFB. They had given Low a new contract in May, extending his deal that expired after Euro 2020 by another two years. This ensured that the compensation for ending the agreement early would cost a small fortune.

Only two people lost their jobs because of the World Cup debacle; Gomez, who called time on his international career to help extend his club career, and Mesut Ozil, who had been scapegoated for Germany's poor performances in Russia despite creating more chances than any other player from any other country in the group stage.

Ozil claimed he was singled out because of his Turkish ancestry, citing racism that was endemic within the DFB and in Germany. Having mishandled everything else around the World Cup, Low continued to mismanage the situation, telling reporters that Ozil's "claims of racism are exaggerated. Nowhere within my team during my time – there has been not even a hint of racism.” If he had read Ozil's statement correctly, he would have seen that the Arsenal forward never claimed of racism within the team.

Rather than defend his World Cup-winning player and offer an olive branch, Low pushed him further away, leaving Germany without one of the world's best number 10s when the Nations League rolled around.

At club level, Ozil now has a new lease of life, with new Arsenal manager Unai Emery having replaced Arsene Wenger - another previously successful coach who had stayed too long in the one position. In Wenger's latter years at the Emirates Stadium, fans grew discontented, unfurling 'Wenger Out' banners and flying planes overhead.

GFX Low November 2018

German football fans have yet to hire sky writers, but relegation from the Nations League has increased their disillusionment with Low, who has now been in sole charge of his country for over 12 years. A 3-0 friendly win over Russia on Thursday was just Germany's fourth victory of 2018 and further highlighted the poor decision-making from the man in the dugout.

Serge Gnabry provided a goal and an assist, while Sane and Niklas Sule both found the net. Only Sule had travelled to the World Cup from these three, with Sane overlooked and Gnabry far on the fringes even before injury ruled him out.

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Low has also persisted with Neuer in goal, even after an abysmal display against the Netherlands in Amsterdam and then a poor showing as France came from behind to inflict a sixth defeat of 2018 on Germany, a new record for a calendar year for Die Mannschaft.

Positives should have been taken into 2019 as Germany led the Netherlands 2-0 with five minutes remaining in their last game of the year, but two late goals from the Dutch sent the visitors into the Nations League finals and left Low explaining another poor result to reporters who needed no excuse to sharpen their knives even further.

Low insisted that he expects improvements from Germany next year as European Championship qualifiers begin, but after their worst year in memory, the quickest way to improve things is to replace the man who is now well past his sell-by date.