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Flick promises 'all-in mentality' as Germany head coach

James Thorogood
August 10, 2021

After inspiring a star-studded side who had lost their spark as Bayern Munich head coach, Hansi Flick is looking to repeat the trick with the German national team. The first priority is a change in mindset.

Hansi Flick speaking into the microphone at the press conference
New Germany head coach Hansi Flick is looking to foster the title-winning mindset that defined his time at Bayern MunichImage: Thomas Boecker/DFB/GES/picture alliance

"We want to create an all-in mentality." German national team fans have become accustomed to promises of fresh starts, attractive football and a return to title-winning pedigree in recent years. This time though, it didn’t feel like lip service. 

On Tuesday, the DFB (German football association) officially unveiled Germany’s new head coach, Hansi Flick. A familiar face in a different role, who went from everyone's favorite right-hand man — including Joachim Löw's — to the prime candidate for the job thanks to a seven-title, 20-month stint with Bayern Munich

When he took over at the German record titleholders, Flick was charged with inspiring a star-studded ensemble who, despite still picking up titles, had lost their spark under Niko Kovac. There’s a sense of deja-vu as he assumes the role of Bundestrainer

"I believe those that followed my time at Bayern know the style of football that both my team and I stand for. I’m expecting us to be active and show on the pitch that we know we’re the best players in Germany by seizing the initiative." Music to the ears of Germany fans. 

Expectation levels set

Talking at his first press conference in the newly constructed DFB Campus in Frankfurt, the 56-year-old admitted his path to Germany’s hot seat "was not how I envisioned it." Previously part of the national team setup under Löw between 2006 and 2017, only after a stint as Hoffenheim sporting director and a glittering spell with Bayern has his story come full circle.

"I can say I’m incredibly happy and, above all, proud to be the national team head coach," continued Flick. "I have to thank the DFB for the faith they’ve put in me to oversee things in this role […] my whole team and I have the aspiration be successful."

Flick knows that claiming silverware on the international stage won’t be as straightforward as it was on the title-winning factory line in Munich. Jokes about having full control of "picking all the players" aside, unlike at Bayern, Flick has the full backing of the DFB. 

"We want to be successful: That’s always the expectation for the national team, to win, to inspire,” team manager Oliver Bierhoff said. “I know Hansi is someone who can inspire people with attractive football, but he knows what’s expected of him and, as he gets started, I wish him luck and the necessary peace. The rest will come."

Joachim Löw's legacy

At one point during a 15-year reign that delivered Germany’s sixth World Cup win, Löw looked set to leave behind shoes too big for anyone to fill. Instead, his former assistant Flick takes the reins of the Nationalmannschaft at a time when the bar has been set lower than when Löw himself succeeded Jürgen Klinsmann after the 2006 World Cup on home soil.

"If you put the last three years to one side, the years before that we reached the semifinals of every major tournament, two titles won, the World Cup and the Confed Cup," said Flick in Löw’s defense. 

"The work he did for the DFB and for German football, above all internationally was enormous. I have a lot to thank him for because he always pushed me and showed me how important it is to take a team on a journey with you."

The problem for Flick is that the fans can't forget the last three years. Euro 2020 was more of a limp encore than a farewell tour for Löw and highlighted once again how Germany, ranked 12th in the world, have become a side that no longer strike fear into the hearts of opponents.

Joachim Löw at UEFA Euro 2020
Joachim Löw's 15-year tenure ended with a Round of 16 exit against England at EURO 2020Image: Frank Augstein/Getty Images

Familiar faces an advantage

The biggest sticking point has been Löw's inability to get the best out of a generation of German talent more than capable of having a defining era at the highest level. That responsibility now lies with Flick, who has the advantage of working with the Bayern core in the national setup. It's the mindset he brings with him that could be key.

"It’s so important that we produce an all-in mentality. What that means for me is that we need to give everything to walk off the pitch as winners. The players have to show that they want to play for Germany, that they’re focused on what lies ahead. It’s the example we’ll set and it’s what we’ll expect."

On August 26, Flick will name his first squad and underlined that "it’s important for me that the best German players also play for Germany," before reiterating that age is not a factor in his decisions. Starting with a qualifier against Liechtenstein on September 2, Flick has 14 months to gear his side up for the 2022 World Cup.

If he manages to shift the risk vs. reward balance in the German national team, in Qatar they’ll have the chance to show that a potentially golden generation really are capable of going all-in when the chips are down.

James Thorogood Sports reporter and editor, host of Project FußballJMThorogood