While we are discussing racism, Clemens Tönnies can continue to be the Schalke boss. An absurdity – and one of the most important topics before the season finale.
While the other top European leagues are eagerly awaiting the restart of their league, in Germany we are already in the middle of the second competition. Even if it was neither exciting last night nor will it be today. After the clear 3-0 victory of Leverkusen in Saarbrücken, I expect FC Bayern to win against Eintracht Frankfurt.
It is therefore worthwhile to deal with the pressing questions in German football before the final sprint of the Bundesliga. And they concern a possible Bayern triple, Timo Werner, FC Schalke in the crisis, racism in the Bundesliga and the way some media deal with coaches and stars.
1. Is Heiko Herrlich still viable as a coach at FC Augsburg?
In my view, this question alone is a joke. The “Bild” newspaper raised it for the second time this week. The first time, Herrlich had broken the corona rules by leaving the team hotel and buying a hand cream. Now he accused the video referee of the 1: 1 against Cologne partiality. Unfortunately, he is not the first – and certainly not the last.
Heiko Herrlich: The new Augsburg coach is criticized after just a few weeks. (Source: Poolfoto / imago images)
But much worse is: From my point of view, it is clearly measured with two standards. Other trainers have also clearly criticized referees – or have not strictly adhered to the hygiene rules. For example Christian Streich: after the 1-0 victory against Borussia Mönchengladbach on the previous day, he jumped on the whole Freiburger Bank in the course of his jubilation, clapped and hugged as if there were no corona pandemic and no hygiene regulations of the DFL. The echo in the media and in the Bundesliga? Understanding and forgiving. Simply because it was the nice Christian Streich. Motto: That’s how he is, this likeable guy.
However, this must not play a role in the assessment. Heiko Herrlich has apologized for his violation of the rule and has gone into quarantine – and the DFL sees no reason for an investigation after his referee criticism. So what is this discussion about?
2. Will Timo Werner be happy at Chelsea?
Timo Werner does everything right by moving to Chelsea. The club has a much greater appeal this summer than Liverpool or Real Madrid. Liverpool won the Champions League last season and will take the championship title in England this year – the first in 30 years. What should Werner put on top of that? How should he top that? That is not how it works. And the same goes for Real Madrid. The club won the Champions League three times in a row from 2016 to 2018. More is not possible.
Chelsea, on the other hand, is the best club to make history. Here he can build up something in two or three years and then win titles. The most important thing for a player is appreciation anyway – and he enjoys it without restriction at Chelsea.
I was reminded of my move to Bayern in 1998. At that time, the club was not at the highest level internationally, it was a troubled time in the club. It was the right time to build something up, win the Champions League three years later and make history.
3. Is Bavaria now the favorite in all three competitions?
In the Bundesliga, four days before the end of the game, Bayern have a seven-point lead over Borussia Dortmund. So he will logically win the championship. The tendency also goes in the cup. In my eyes, there cannot be a clearer favorite than against Frankfurt today. In the Champions League, on the other hand, it is still too early to declare Bavaria the sole top favorite.
It is still unclear when this competition will continue. And it cannot be estimated at all how the other top clubs come from the break – from Paris St. Germain via Manchester City to Juventus Turin. Bayern can win the Champions League, I said that a few months ago – and it has certainly shifted somewhat over the past few months. However, it is currently impossible to commit to this.
4. Is Goretzka the new leader in Bavaria?
One has the feeling that Leon Goretzka not only takes excellent development at Bayern, but also grows into a leadership role. He is only one player out of many who are in top form. Alphonso Davies is one of the best purchases in recent years and shows that it doesn’t always have to be a transfer in the high double-digit million range.
Leon Goretzka has taken more leadership on the pitch at FC Bayern. (Source: Poolfoto / imago images)
Also Jerome Boateng, David Alaba in a new role or Thomas Müller are playing excellent again and are beaming with joy. The trio Müller, Boateng, Mats Hummels will not miss the national team at the European Championship next year if they keep their shape and the performance principle applies. Then national coach Joachim Löw has to jump over his shadow and bring back the players he sorted out in 2019.
5. Who is to blame for the next Schalke crisis?
For the development on Schalke you almost have no words. What the club publishes for a picture is pitiful. Schalke has been sporting without a win for twelve games – the club has set the negative record from the 1993/94 season. You won’t get off anyway.
The biggest problem for Schalke is still waiting. That will be the question in the coming years: Who wants to switch to Schalke at all? Who is willing to sign a two or three year contract here? When I get offers from Schalke and another club, I inevitably ask myself: Do you really want to play at a club with such a poor image and an uncertain future? Where even captains like Nübel, Höwedes or Fährmann are regularly shaved after they have been given confidence in?
No. I would switch to another club – whether it’s Wolfsburg, Hoffenheim or something else.
Schalke also has a questionable relationship with young players. After Nübel was disempowered, the club has also twice taken his representative Markus Schubert out of the gate. They have so many construction sites on Schalke – and most of them opened them themselves.
One of them is the one around the supervisory board boss Clemens Tönnies. Because in times when Germany, like the whole world, is discussing institutionalized racism, I have to think of Tönnies. I think you can ask again how an association would like to position itself credibly against racism after the boss financed power plants in the “Craft Day” in Paderborn in 2019 on the subject of “Entrepreneurship with Responsibility – Ways into the Future of Food Production” Africa recommended. Tönnies said at the time: “Then the Africans would stop cutting down trees and they would stop producing children when it was dark.” The DFB’s ethics committee has decided not to initiate proceedings. Tönnies voluntarily resigned from office for only three months in the hope that time would make him forget his testimony. But racism is not forgotten.
In the Bundesliga, players are thrown out or suspended for far less. Most recently, Hertha kicked out Salou Kalou because he disregarded the hygiene rules. Of course, we cannot compare disregarded hygiene rules to racism. But the fact is: Clemens Tönnies can still run the club today. For me it’s an absurdity. I have no understanding for this. Anyone who expresses themselves racist has no place in an association’s function. Such a person has no business in the Bundesliga.
Boris Becker recently said that the topic of racism in Germany is often swept under the carpet. I would put it differently. In my view, we are masters of inconsistency and silence in Germany. The Clemens Tönnies case is the best example for me. And from today’s perspective, dealing with the consequence that he is back in the stands today has been a disaster.
6. How does Borussia Dortmund manage Jadon Sancho?
Jadon Sancho is a gifted footballer who enriches the Bundesliga and is a top performer at Borussia Dortmund. He has certainly made one or two mistakes by coming too late for training or a meeting, posting swanky videos or now disregarding the hygiene rules. Dealing with it is questionable. We must not forget that Sancho has just turned 20. At this age, others graduate from high school and start studying. On the other hand, there is unbelievable pressure on him every week. I miss that in the discussion. A 19 or 20 year old can’t be a role model. He is just at the beginning of a great career and can certainly still learn a lot.
The “Sport Bild” with the “Sancho file” on the front page is an absolute joke. A felon has a file. But a 20 year old soccer player? I’m assuming we scare off a young player like Sancho. He will certainly leave the Bundesliga and I cannot blame him. If we put him in this corner, we shouldn’t be surprised in Germany. We have to protect him in public instead of scaring him off.
We see how people are assessed and treated differently in sports. Mostly positive like prank or negative like Herrlich or Sancho. Some of them are pigeonholed and, unfortunately, never get rid of God.
If we do this with younger and younger players, it will be an extremely dangerous development in Germany.