Franz Beckenbauer, The National Team Manager, Part I (1984-86)
In the summer of 1984, West German Football was in disarray. The once mighty National Team had been eliminated in the first round of the recent UEFA European Championships in France by losing 0 to 1 to Spain.
The team’s performances had been largely unimpressive since the last World Cup. The clubs were doing no better, as during the 1983/84 season, all clubs had been eliminated from the European Competitions before the Spring Quarter Finals phase.
This was rare for a country that performed so well in these competitions for the previous two decades.
Following the disastrous performance in the Euros, Juup Derwall resigned as Manager after 6 years in charge.
|Photo from: France Football, July 17, 1984|
According to some sources, he had wanted to resign months before, however, DFB (Deutscher Fussball Bund) President Hermann Neuberger, ruled out a managerial change before the Euros.
Derwall’s reign had started positively with West Germany winning the 1980 UEFA European Championships inn Italy and starting with a 23 match unbeaten run.
But despite a runners-up finish in the World Cup, the performances had gradually declined, not to mention a number of players refusing to play with him in charge.
Many thought the DFB would follow tradition and appoint the assistant Manager, Erick Ribbeck, to replace the Derwall as they had done in the past.
Photo from: Fussball Magazin, January February 1985(Franz Beckenbauer as National Team Manager, 1984)
However, in an unconventional move, Hermann Neuberger appointed former Captain Franz Beckenbauer as National Team Manager.
Neuberger’s original choice had been, the recent Bundesliga Champions VfB Stuttgart’s Manager, Helmut Benthaus. However, the Stuttgart Hierarchy, as well as the Manager himself turned down the offer.
Neuberger turned to Beckenbauer due to mostly popular demand.
Beckenbauer had only retired from playing two years before and had once declared that he would never manage.
He was convinced to take over due to the urgent state of German Football at the time.
According to himself the decision was based upon sentiment not reason.
Beckenbauer did not possess the required licenses to be Manager.
Appointing him as ‘Teamchief’ and having a licensed Manager, Horst Koppel, alongside him, despite the protests of the Coaches Union, resolved this problem.
Photo from: Fussball Magazin, November December 1984(Franz Beckenbauer and assistant Horst Koppel)
The first casualties of the new Beckenbauer regime were players such as Stuttgart’s Bernd Förster (brother of Karl-Heinz) and Koln’s Gerd Strack who were never selected again.
Long serving Uli Stielike of Real Madrid was selected for Beckenbauer’s first match in charge vs. Argentina in September 1984, but only played in the second half.
In an interview, he later stated that he was made to understand that he was no longer wanted.
Beckenabuer also had to persuade the players who had declared themselves unavailable under Derwall for comebacks.
These included SV Hamburg’s Felix Magath, as a midfield playmaker, that the Germans sorely needed, as well as his club mate Dietmar Jakobs in defense.
He also started the process of rejuvenating the National Team by selecting then uncapped players such as Frankfurt’s Thomas Berthold, Borussia Moenchengladbach’s Michael Frontzek and Uwe Rahn and Schalke’s 18-year-old Olaf Thon.
SV Hamburg’s goalkeeper Uli Stein was promoted as number two behind Harald Schumacher.
West Germany’s ‘Enfant Terrible, Barcelona’s Bernd Schuster even declared himself available. Although he requested to play as Libero, to which Beckenbauer refused.
The Beckenbauer era began on September 12, 1984 at Dusseldorf vs. Carlos Bilardo’s Argentina.
The Germans, wearing Green, were outplayed and defeated 1 to 3 at home.
Photo from: El Grafico, No. 3389, 1984(Beckenbauer’s first match in charge, September 12, 1984, West Germany 1-Argentina 3)
Apart from this match, Beckenbauer’s first season in charge was very successful as West Germany won its first five matches in its World Cup Qualification group.
Sweden, Malta (away and home), Portugal (away) and Czechoslovakia (away) were all defeated in convincing fashion.
Photo from: Onze, June 1985(Uwe Rahn, one of Beckenbauer’s new inclusions, April 30, 1985, World Cup Qualifier, Czechoslovakia 1-West Germany 5)
Lothar Matthaus even managed to score his first goal for the National team after five years in the match vs. Czechoslovakia on April 30th, 1985 (1 to 5 away win).
Upon his arrival Beckenbauer made certain changes. No longer would the teams stay at deluxe hotels for get togethers. He preferred Federation’s Sports installations.
At 10:00 PM every night, the players would have to get together around a case of beer and talk and discuss.
And after every match the players would meet for a group dinner.
He also forbade Federation staff to neither sit in his tactical talks with the players nor sit on the same bus.
There was also the general feeling that under Derwall, Rummenigge and Breitner, as the kingpins of the team, had the freedom to come and go as they please.
Beckenabuer, made it clear to Rummenigge, that as Captain, he had to lead by example and always be the first at training, dinner table, etc.
At this point many believed Beckenabuer had resurrected the National Team’s fortunes, however, the upcoming end of the season tour of Mexico brought everyone down to earth.
With almost no preparation, the team took part in the ‘Azteca 2000’ Tournament, a dress rehearsal of sorts for the World Cup the following year.
The German played England in scorching heat, having arrived two days prior, and were predictably defeated 3 to 0.
A few days later they played the hosts, Mexico, and were once again defeated 0 to 2.
These displays showed that this German team was not the finished article and the World Cup Qualification wins could not hide the fact that perhaps much rebuilding still needed to be done.
Photo from: Mondial, June 1986(Rudi Voeller, June 15, 1985, Azteca 2000, Mexico 2-West Germany 0)
In any case, Beckenbauer had declared that this squad is not yet ready and perhaps would reach its height during the 1988 Euros.
The following season (1985/86), West Germany labored through its Fall Campaign.
A 0 to 1 loss in a Friendly vs. USSR was followed by a 2 to 2 vs. Sweden in September in a World Cup Qualifier.
This was followed by West Germany’s first ever loss in a World Cup Qualifier, a 0 to 1 home loss to Portugal.
Photo from: Onze, November 1985(Jaime Pacheco and Pierre Littbarski, October 16, 1985, World Cup Qualifier, West Germany 0-Portugal 1)
The qualification campaign was wrapped up in November with a home 2 to 2 tie vs. Czechoslovakia, a team they had demolished six months earlier.
Things took a turn for the worse, when star striker Rudi Voeller of Werder Bremen was seriously injured by National Team teammate Klaus Aughentaler of Bayern Munich in a League Match.
He would be out of actions for months with his World Cup participation in jeopardy.
West Germany played many friendlies in preparation for the World Cup and while far from impressive, they nevertheless managed some creditable results vs. Brazil (2 to 0 win), Italy (2 to 1 win) and Holland (3 to 1) win.
Rudi Voeller made his comeback for the National Team in a May Friendly vs. Yugoslavia and scored West Germany’s goal in a one to one tie.
Photo from: Mondial, June 1986(Felix Magath back with the National team, Alessandro Altobelli is on the left, , February 5, 1986, Italy 1-West Germany 2)
The ageing West Germany side went into the Mexico Finals with somewhat lower expectations.
By now Rummenigge, Briegel, Magath, Jakobs and other senior players were showing signs of age and the grueling heat was looked upon as a disadvantage.
In the pre-World Cup training camp, there two events of concern. Captain Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had angered the Koln contingent (Schumacher, Littbarski and Allofs) by calling them the ‘Koln Mafia’.
Photo from: Onze, July 1986(Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, June 17, 1986, World Cup, West Germany 1-Morocco 0)
Naturally the Koln players were angered and Schumacher even threatened to walk out.
Clear the air talks had to be held to resolve the matter.
Another was about the impending end of the season transfers of Pierre Littbarski and Karlheinz Förster to the French League (Racing Club Paris and Olympique Marseille respectively).
Beckenbauer stated that now Bundesliga would now only comprise of the ‘dregs’. He formally apologized to the teams shortly afterwards.
In the World Cup, West Germany advanced through the First Round with far from impressive displays.
A late strike by Allofs avoided a defeat vs. Uruguay in the opener and Scotland were defeated 2 to 1 in their next match.
Denmark defeated West Germany 2 to 0 in their last group Match.
Surprisingly, Beckenbauer was most pleased with the Denmark match and called it their best team performance up to that point.
After the First Round matches, Substitute goalkeeper Uli Stein was sent back home due to indiscipline.
In the knockout stages, the West Germans again advanced by the narrowest of the margins. A late strike by Matthaus vs. Morocco was followed by a scoreless tie vs. the hosts Mexico and a penalty shoot out win.
The semifinal was a replay of the 1982 edition with the Germans being paired with France.
Many predicted a France win; as they were the better team, however, perhaps due to exhaustion after their epic quarterfinals win vs. Brazil, they were defeated.
West Germany took a quick lead through a deflected indirect free kick by Andreas Brehme and despite being dominated for the rest of the match; they were able to score another goal at the end by Voeller and qualified for a World Cup Final for the second straight time.
This tournament belonged to Diego Maradona, and despite coming back from two goals down the Germans succumbed to a late strike by Jorge Burruchaga.
Photo from: Onze, July 1986
(Burruchaga scoring Argentina’s winner with Schuamcher and Briegel unable to stop, June 29, 1986, World Cup, Argentina 3-West Germany 2)
Beckenbauer would go on to consider the 1986 World Cup as one of his greatest achievements given how average the team was.
The experience from this World Cup laid the groundwork for Beckenbauer to lead Germany to World Cup glory in 1990.
With West Germany to host the 1988 UEFA European Championships, the team would be further rejuvenated in preparations for the Tournament.
Following the World Cup, many of the senior players retired, these included Rummenigge, Magath, Briegel, Dieter Hoeness, Jakobs and Allgower.
Matthaus, Brehme, Thon and other younger players took center stage with 1988 and eventually 1990 in mind.
Photo from: Mondial, July 1986(Lothar Matthaus, June 17, 1986, World Cup, West Germany 1-Morocco 0)