World Cup coverage of Germany’s downfall and the continuation of the Champions Curse centred mainly on one man.
Was this just? With Loew’s team falling way short of the standard that is expected, was one man really responsible? Or was it the media having an agenda that garners the most engagement?
No domestic football means a real shortage of actual football to generate headlines, and it means that with less news, the quality of stories coming from the mainstream media is watered down a tad.
A great example of this is the lines zoning in on a certain Mesut Ozil. The player that journo’s love to write about. His lackadaisical mannerisms are manna from heaven, and it is easy to wrap stories around this, painting a picture of an entitled enigma, a player who rarely puts in a shift, and his injury woes toward the end of the season were illustrated to look like the German was taking a break rather than attempting to recover from a back injury.
At the time, a large majority of us questioned Ozil’s absence. An abrupt omission from the squad in the last few games of the season did raise some eyebrows, but his back problem was confirmed by both Arsene Wenger and Joachim Loew, and Ozil was forced to take it easy in the run up to the World Cup.
Ozil’s recent poor form though, is now being used as a stick to beat the playmaker, and recent TV coverage of Germany’s loss to South Korea had German fans actually blaming Ozil for their country’s early exit.
Radio stations, newspapers, websites, all have shone the light of blame on Ozil, his petulant behaviour and failure to exert his influence on proceedings are the sack that has been flung over Ozil and used to chuck him out to sea.
The thing is though, is that Ozil performed his job against South Korea, and he did it very well.
One key stat is the purest evidence of this, and one that was hidden from the majority, for fear of destroying the shroud of blame that currently hangs over Ozil.
The German number 10 is the creator, he is on the pitch to make chances.
Well, he made more chances in the loss versus South Korea, than any player in the entire World Cup had made so far.
That’s right. The underperforming, misfiring misfit that is Ozil, hung out to dry by all and sundry, made more opportunities for his team than any player at the entire tournament had made in total.
Yet Ozil was the reason Germany limped out.
Every piece of visual coverage that looked at Germany’s losses to both Mexico and South Korea went predominantly with an image of a tired-looking Ozil. His image attached to the misfortunes of his national side.
Forget Mats Hummels, who seemed to forget he was a defender in all 3 games. Forget Manuel Neuer, who has only just returned from serious injury and his insistence on playing in midfield cost Germany their second goal.
Forget about Khedira, Boateng, Timo Werner, Mario Gomez. These players were severely under-par, and yet not one finger points at them and demands they face the baying mobs.
No, because their face doesn’t fit the agenda. Mesut Ozil bashing gets headlines, clicks, calls on the radio show. When Ozil gets lambasted, then engagement levels go up.
It can be the only reason for it, given Ozil performed way above what he was given scant credit for.
Then there was the reports that Ozil suffered racial abuse from his own fans. From World Cup hero and Germany’s Player of the Year on many occasions, to derided zero, now not worth an iota of support.
It’s hard to think of another player right now that suffers in the same way. Is this targeting of Mesut simply down to his lack of emotion? If so, there are other players who come across like an automaton on the pitch and in interviews, yet they don’t suffer in the same way. Is it his effortless style? Because his neck veins don’t rise to the surface while straining every sinew?
The naysayers point out the 2-1 win over Sweden when Ozil was dropped. They say that this shows that Joachim Low was carrying Ozil, and as soon as the number 10 came back into the side, they lost again.
Well, anyone who watched Germany versus South Korea could testify that Ozil wasn’t to blame.
The whole team were utterly abject.
So, as Gooners, retain some common sense. We should be glad Ozil will at least now get some rest before what is sure to be a huge season for Arsenal. We should back our man. He could do with the support. Who knows, it could just pay off.