Dhe “Tiger” hardly moves from the spot. It’s blazing hot in the midday sun in al-Ruwais, and Hermann Gerland, in long trousers and a long shirt, has pulled his peaked cap down over his face. The national team’s assistant coach watches the first training session in Qatar rather stoically from the middle circle.
His boss, on the other hand, paces restlessly back and forth between the small groups. “Ready for the ball!”, “First contact, yes!”, “A little more speed!” – and again and again: “Come on! Come on!” Hansi Flick is ready and he wants to show that, later the players will say that it was an extraordinarily intense session.
In any case, you only have to watch the man with the red whistle around his neck this Saturday to know: the World Cup emergency has begun. Even if Flick’s gaze, at least here, first goes down to the feet of his players. As if he could get a few percent out of it now: “Come on!”
For a good fifteen months, the national coach turned almost every screw he could find to make this World Cup, his first tournament as boss, a success. For Flick, success is not relative. You didn’t have to come to him with the intention of playing a few good games and maybe going home satisfied despite a lost semi-final.
Flick, socialized as a player at FC Bayern and inoculated with this mentality ever since, only knows absolute success. He wants the World Cup. But of course he also knows that a lot has to come together for this to happen.
The Germans have not recently upset the football world, the failure of their own hubris in 2018, the despondent Pandemic European Championship under Joachim Löw in 2021 – the national team has not looked like a champion for a long time, and the German Football Association now knows that too that it was a mistake to continue with Löw after failing in Russia When Flick succeeded him last late summer, that was his main reference: that he knows what champions look like.
The Great Communicator
In order to eliminate this difference between the identityless shell called “DieTeam” and this image of a team called FC Bayern, he threw himself into the new job with full commitment from day one, he introduced the credo that national players ” always” and to demand that, he visited the players at the clubs, gave them homework and checked their progress, he brought experts on board like a coach for set pieces and he talked, talked, talked, with his players, with the coaches, with journalists, with everyone.
Flick, 57, is the great communicator in German football. Without exception, he sees the exchange as an opportunity to take people with him – the more, the better. The table at which the trainers sit has become bigger for him than for Löw. But one thing is particularly important to him: that “every word has the same value” there, as he says – a boss who gives his employees space and trust. Team could be a word Flick invented.
On Monday, the third day in Qatar, Niklas Süle is sitting on the press podium in the al-Shamal training center. He is asked how the national coach Flick behaves to that flick from the common Bayern time. “Hansi,” says Süle, “is incredibly good at forming a unit in the shortest possible time, and that’s what we have to be for this tournament.”
Flick’s masterpiece, that wasn’t the umpteenth national title with Bayern, it was the Champions League finals, which were held in Lisbon in 2020 as a final tournament due to the pandemic. Before that, he and the team moved to a short training camp in the Algarve, first to go down together and then really up together.
It is no coincidence that the national team spent a few days in Oman before traveling to Qatar, primarily for regeneration and acclimatization. In the Algarve and then in Lisbon, the flow of a tournament and coaching life developed, and then Flick prepared his team so well in terms of football that the defeated final coach Thomas Tuchel later raved about it.