Joachim Low knew he wasn’t about to make himself popular so decided there was no point beating about the bush.
The Germany coach turned up unannounced at Bayern Munich‘s training ground and simply informed Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng – capped 246 times between them – they would no longer play for the national team.
His declaration, which came completely out of the blue, caused shockwaves in Bavaria and far beyond.
Jerome Boateng (left), Mats Hummels (centre) and Thomas Muller (right) were the three high-profile victims of Joachim Low’s ruthless overhaul of the Germany team after the World Cup
Low decided to call time on the international careers of various established names
Defeat to South Korea sealed Germany’s humiliating World Cup exit at the group stage
Muller recorded a video on Instagram in which he said: ‘The longer I think about it, the more I’m angry about the way this has happened. I have no understanding for the suggested definitiveness of this decision.’
Bayern, whose players have formed the backbone of the German national side for as long as anyone can remember, took the unprecedented step of releasing a statement criticising Low’s insensitivity and timing.
Low’s visit had come in early March this year, causing unexpected angst and distraction ahead of important fixtures against Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga and Liverpool in the Champions League.
‘We believe the timing and circumstances of the announcement of this decision to the players and to the public is questionable,’ the German champions said in their most diplomatic tone.
It was certainly ruthless by Low. Not only were Muller, Hummels and Boateng experienced internationals – and World Cup winners from 2014 – but they were hardly over the hill.
Hummels and Boateng were only 30, not old for defenders, while Muller was still only 29 and a reliable goalscorer.
Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer look dejected after Germany’s Nations League relegation
They suffered losses to France and Holland during the new tournament to drop to League B
Germany Euro 2020 qualifying
March 24 Holland (A) 3-2
June 8 Belarus (A) 2-0
June 11 Estonia (H) 8-0
September 6 Holland (H)
September 9 Northern Ireland (A)
October 13 Estonia (A)
November 16 Belarus (H)
November 19 Northern Ireland (H)
But when Low said it was time for a ‘new beginning’ after Germany’s humiliation at the 2018 World Cup, he was clearly determined to keep his word however harsh his actions may seem.
Indeed, the only real surprise is that Low had waited so long to sweep away some of the deadwood following Germany’s embarrassing group stage exit in Russia.
It had taken the additional indignity of relegation from the top tier of the UEFA Nations League in the autumn for Low to fully begin the reboot the German side clearly needed.
Low was heavily criticised from many different angles following his cull of the Bayern trio and there’s no question the 59-year-old, who has now managed Die Mannschaft…