“No striker will be afraid to run at the German goal.”

By Peter Weis@PeterVicey
In an editorial piece appearing in the Monday print edition of Germany’s Kicker Magazine, former West German national team goalkeeper Uli Stein criticized Bundestrainer Julian Nagelsmann for both sticking with Manuel Neuer as his #1 keeper and reversing course on the decision to bring Alexander Nübel to the forthcoming tournament. 

Journalists Oliver Hartmann and Sebastian Wulff also wrote “pro-and-contra Neuer” pieces for the paper.

A Kicker poll conducted over the weekend saw 82 percent of respondents tap Marc André ter Stegen as their preferred choice to tend the German net. Much the last time Germany hosted a major international footballing competition in 2006, the German public seems inclined toward a changing-of-the-guard in goal. 

The debate across the Bundesrepublik regarding 38-year-old German national team keeper Manuel Neuer continues to rage. Following a subpar season returning from injury and a significant blunder in Friday’s friendly win over Greece, Bundestrainer Julian Nagelsmann immediately attempted to quash any debate about Neuer’s status as the team’s starting keeper. Nagelsmann’s backing, obviously, hasn’t managed to do so. 

Germany’s preeminent footballing publication, Kicker Magazine, conducted a user poll over the weekend. Eighty-two-percent of the magazine’s online readers selected back-up Marc André ter Stegen as their preferred choice to tend the German net in the coming Euros. In Kicker’s Monday print edition, veteran German footballing journalists Oliver Hartmann and Sebastian Wulff wrote a “pro-and-contra piece” for the paper. 

Hartmann made the case that demoting Neuer so soon before the competition would facilitate too much unrest in the DFB-camp. Even Hartmann, however, struggled to find arguments beyond that. The reporter responsible for the “pro Neuer” argument conceded that Nagelsmann’s backing of Neuer in March left the Bundestrainer’s hands tied. 

Without referencing Germany’s last hosted tournament in 2006, Hartmann’s emphasis on Nagelsmann’s backing echoed the choice of then Bundestrainer Jürgen Klinsmann to bench an aging Oliver Kahn in favor of Jens Lehmann in the 2006 World Cup. Klinsmann committed to Lehmann over Kahn in March of that year. It seems as if Nagelsmann has missed his opportunity. 

Wulff’s “contra” piece outlines reasons why Neuer is no longer the type of dominant force he once was. In his own editorial, former West Germany keeper Uli Stein goes one step further. The 69-year-old claims that Neuer should have been left off the tournament roster altogether. Stein also blatantly criticizes Nagelsmann for reversing course on his decision to keep Alexander Nübel on the roster.

“Neuer’s selection is no longer justified in sporting terms,” Stein writes, “He should have been left at home with a heavy heart, yet based on common sense. At this European Championship, there will hardly be an opposing striker who is afraid to run alone towards the German goal.”

“A goalkeeper over 30 needs to have the luck to avoid injuries,” Stein continues, “Manuel hasn’t had that luck. He lacked the normal training and match rhythm that gives him confidence and security in goal for a long time. One can see that in his performance now.”

“It also makes no sense that a potential man-of-the-future can get a taste of tournament action,” Stein continued when discussing the Nübel decision, “Instead it’s [TSG 1899 Hoffenheim keeper] Oliver Baumann – a figure who has no real DFB future ahead of him – who’s there.” 

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