While some criticism is always to be expected after a Germany match (even a victory!), those who do it purely to stir up controversy and gain attention rather than for any underlying desire to help the national team, have become increasingly the norm. So it has been with Jens Lehmann.
I do not, of course, and never have, believed that Joachim Löw is beyond criticism or examination. The debate that always ensures when a team is chosen, a match is won or lost is part of the world that is football. We all have different views and long may it stay that way.
However fair debate is a world away from Lehmann’s behaviour during Euro 2016, announcing to the watching UK public that Joachim Löw had stated he was ‘relaxed’ over the German team and how they were playing, giving of course the impression that the Bundestrainer’s was an attitude of nonchalence and laissez-faire.
This was NOT of course what Jogi had said, as well Lehmann knew. His real comments were almost the complete opposite and referred to him being “relaxed” about press criticism and being able to detach himself from what was going on outside the squad set-up.
But of course the devious Lehmann was well aware that the watching British public would not have seen the press conference or read the actual quotes to know their true context and that their take on it (exacerbated by Germany’s continued success as compared to England’s) would be one of an assumption of arrogance on the part of the Bundestrainer.
Typing Lehmann/Löw into Twitter, you see a stream of paranoid rants that would barely pass a psychiatrist’s assessment. “He has a bad tournament record?” Really? “Löw know the rules” Rules? Whose rules? The Star Chamber of Count Jens?
After Manuel Neuer was appointed Germany captain, we witnessed his comment he did not believe goalkeepers made good team captains. Dino Zoff? Iker Casillas? No doubt he also had a template article ready supporting the goalie-captain had Jerome Boateng been given the role.
And now to his recent attack on Mario Götze*. Perhaps we should have some sympathy with Lehmann, whose German career from 1998 to 2008 spanned those trophyless years, sitting in a studio surrounded by the World Cup trophy and numerous photographs of Jogi, and that poor Mario needed to be the innocent bunny that had to be boiled to satisfy his seething jealousy.
It has however been nice to see that the tide is turning against him.
You see, those of us turning into TV to watch sport don’t want to see a systematic attack on people, cringeworthy personal animus pouring into our TV screens and taking away from the occasion we have just watched. We want to see entertaining enlightened punditry, even if said punditry is sometimes critical and even scathing (think Bob Willis on The Verdict). We want to see the wonderful patriotism but yet objectivity shown by the likes of Ian Botham, or the witty knowledgeable exchanges between the panel on BT Sport’s European Football Show.
It is time the Star Chamber of Count Jens was disbanded and we no longer have to watch a quite obviously jealous individual whose sole intent is to stir up trouble and take it out on others. For that we can watch soap operas. Or even the odd movie.
Update, March 2017
Later that same season Mario Götze was diagnosed as suffering from the rare metabolic disorder Myopathy, symptoms of which include lethargy, and the need for a longer recovery period after rigorous exercise.
I would hope that the likes of Jens Lehmann (and he wasn’t alone), so damning of Mario without even the thought that his loss of form might be a physiological problem are suitably ashamed of themselves. But in order to do that you would have to be a special kind of character and the courage to admit that you might just, on this occasion, have overstepped the mark.
So I doubt it.