The World Cup post-mortem this summer identified a need to reconnect with the fan base. Judging by the positive response in Berlin, the public enjoyed the close-up so much that the poor results in Russia and the FA's poor handling of the Mesut Ozil affair were all but forgotten.
The real beneficiaries of the exercise were some of Low's most trusted men, however. For the Bayern Munich contingent of Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Joshua Kimmich and Serge Gnabry, the mass adulation made for a nice change from the crisis engulfing Sabener Strasse after four games without a win. They visibly relished the smiles and pats on the back; so too did Toni Kroos, who is experiencing similar troubles in Madrid.
Low naturally made light of his regulars' travails back home. They were "experienced enough to deal with the situation and to show a completely different performance within the space of a week," the 58-year-old claimed. But the sheer number of stalwarts struggling to get even close to previous levels is unprecedented in the Bundestrainer's 12-year reign. He has never had so many of his key men playing this poorly for their clubs.
The malaise extends to fringe players such as Julian Draxler (Paris Saint-Germain) and Leroy Sane (Manchester City), who have featured only intermittently in their respective leagues so far this season. To make matters worse still, the two outstanding German performers in the current Bundesliga season have both withdrawn from the squad due to injury. Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus (six goals, six assists in all competitions) and Ozil's heir apparent, 19-year-old Kai Havertz of Bayer Leverkusen (four goals, three assists) would have brought a much-needed sense of swagger to the dressing room.
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