Could Joachim Low return to club football?
The head of the Nationalelf. Deutschland's answer to the fab four, if they managed football clubs of course. Joachim Low has managed Germany to World Cup glory and generally made them into a much better side from when he joined them, but could he ever dabble into club football again?
The success of a good manager is all too often judged on trophies. Whilst silverware is exceptional and delightful to have, it's not always a scale of how good a head coach performs. Robert Di Matteo technically has a UEFA Champions League honour to his name, but he couldn't hold a job down at Aston Villa.
What really shows the signs of a good manager is the ability to take a team above the mark where you found them. If you start managing a team which finished 15th before you arrived and you have one season with them and you finish 14th, then in the roughest possible way – you have done a good job. The hyperreal expectations of boards/owners mean that actual progression goes unnoticed and unappreciated. Alas, this is the world we live in today's football environment.
Joachim Low, despite largely unnoticed during his club management days – progressed his sides. Before 2000 he took on the head coach roles at VfB Stuttgart and Fenerbahce. He had two seasons with the South German club, where he undoubtedly developed the side's fortunes. Delivering the 4th place finish in the Bundesliga – a big improvement considering they had been a bottom half club for the prior two seasons. In addition, he won a major trophy with the club in DFB-Pokal in his first season. He then reached the Cup Winner's Cup Final in his second season.
He then took then the reigns in Istanbul, for the Yellow Canaries, as Fenerbahce are affectionately known. Whilst he only was in charge for one season he bettered the club's point tally from the year before and got them firing on more cylinders as they managed to score 23 more goals than the year prior. Throw in a couple of Austrian titles in the early noughties and the German, the national head coach's (at the time, Jurgen Klinsmann), radar and made him part of the national set-up by making Joachim his assistant manager.
Then the rest is history. He picked up the weight after Klinsmann's lost his job after the semi-final loss on home soil in the 2006 World Cup. He ran with it and in eight years he turned them into the world champions.
But what next? He's hardly been around the top European club jobs, at only 57 years of age, surely more awaits him. Managers like Conte have been into the national side and then come back to club level and succeeded. To fewer extents so have Scolari and Sven-Goran Eriksson.
It's unusual that his name wasn't more linked to the Bayern Munich position that opened up at the end of last month. The Bayern job is arguably bigger than the German national side and offers a decent project for the manager. The team are underperforming and he's got a lot of good resources. Almost a perfect setting for him as an incoming manager. Yet he's since gone on record and been highly critical of the Bundesliga, hinting at new future involvement in the league.
Of course, he could always go the way that everyone seemingly wants to, the Premier League. The aforementioned Italian did it and won the league title in his debut season with Chelsea. There's no telling the kind of success a World Cup winning manager would have in the Premier League. Oh, and the club, oh boy – there's only one. Arsenal.
The Gunners are in a transitional process, some of the best players are looking at leaving, they finished poorly in the league last season and as a result aren't in the European competition they wanted. Wenger can't stay forever and if you put Joachim Low in now, you'd be optimistic about their chances. A track record of turning sides around at the top level is undeniable. Given the resources and pre-existing talent at the Emirates, he'd be ready-made for the North London club.
Although there are other clubs that share similar crossroads. AC Milan for example, have a great history of winning trophies – yet these days can't seem to muster any real threat within the league. Despite them and their rivals Inter Milan collapsing at the same time, there's a clear disparity between the teams. This would again be another challenge where the German manager could walk in with a real target. Given the new ownership and the financial backing from them, Joachim would relish the challenge of progressing this contemporary Milan side back to their former glory and potentially beyond.
Joachim Low is currently on track to the German national side in their World Cup cycle for the 2018 tournament. His character and track record will probably lead him to see out the job until the end of the world cup. His performance there may influence his next move. He's technically under contract until 2020 but could be afforded the opportunity to leave at suitable juncture given his positive relationship with the DFB.