Football: Vogts struggles with the expectation of success: Ken Jones, in Detroit, on a German manager who springs from a long tradition of excellence

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The Independent Online
HE WAS bitter about newspaper criticism and aggrieved to find his welcome wearing thin. Not Graham Taylor but Bertie Vogts, whose troubles began the day he succeeded Franz Beckenbauer as tutor to the German national team. 'Vogts raus' (Vogts out) chanted the crowd in Bochum two months ago when the world champions put six goals past Ghana.

While Taylor labours under the inevitability of dismissal if England fail to qualify for next year's World Cup finals - 'I could handle that,' he insisted on Saturday - Vogts lives with the pressure to emulate. 'It has become normal for Germany to reach the final of tournaments, so the expectations are enormous,' he said.

Germany's tremendous record looms over him: three world championships; six appearances in the final; twice European champions (all as West Germany). Thus defeat by Denmark in the final of the European Championship last summer was failure. Vogts raus.

In December last year Germany were defeated 3-1 by Brazil in Porto Alegre. Subsequent victories in Uruguay and Scotland did not appease the public. They were waiting for Vogts in Bochum, abusive, derisory. 'You could not print what they called him,' Hartmut Scherzner, a prominent German sports writer, said.

One of Vogts's problems is that he aroused the wrath of the mass circulation tabloid Bild Zeitung by refusing to contribute an exclusive weekly column. Another is that he succeeded Beckenbauer, who achieved the unique distinction of winning the World Cup both as a player and a manager. In addition, it was necessary partly to rebuild the team as his captain and most influential player, Lothar Matthaus, was injured.

Nothing troubled Vogts more than Matthaus's apparent decline, his form affected both by an injury no less serious than that which threatened to foreshorten Paul Gascoigne's career, and a much-publicised love affair with a Swiss television actress.

Against Brazil and the United States in the US Cup the German captain looked a spent force; on Saturday he was described by Taylor as the difference between the teams. 'If he had played for us we would have won,' he said. Even allowing for Matthaus's impressive revival, this sounded like a convenient exaggeration.

It obscured the Germans' tactical superiority, the fluency that arises from a system of development that puts English football to shame. Continuity was established in 1908 when Professor Otto Netz was appointed to coach the national team. Since Netz retired in 1936 there have been only five coaches: Sepp Herberger until 1964; Helmut Schon between 1964 and 1978; Jupp Derwall, 1978-1984; Beckenbauer and Vogts. 'In that respect, nothing changes,' Vogts said. 'The broad base for everything, for educating the best young players and bringing them forward, has been in place for years. As for the coaches, Schon trained under Herberger, Derwall under Schon, and I under Derwall. We have a pattern, progression.'

By comparison, England have been locked in the arrogant assumption that they are a major football power. The record, certainly when set against that of Germany, who are closest ethnically and climatically, disproves it.

Since first competing in the World Cup in 1950, England have only twice progressed beyond the last eight, winning in 1966 when playing all their games at Wembley, and losing a semi- final against West Germany three years ago. They were not seen in the finals between 1970 and 1982. 'Our overall record is excellent, but we don't do well in tournaments,' Taylor has said. The reasons run deeper than he probably imagines. They include the historical - and in truth now insupportable - fragmentation that provides for four national teams from the UK and, most critically, a lack of technique.

A revival of spirit enabled England to avoid the embarrassment of being overwhelmed by the Germans on Saturday, but technically their opponents were on a different plane. 'Tournaments are usually held in conditions that take away your energy,' Vogts said, 'so it is important not to be careless with the ball.'

Before England defended the World Cup in Mexico 23 years ago, their manager, Sir Alf Ramsey, said: 'Think of the ball as a jewel, caress it.' From the way a great number of British players go about their work you would think the ball was covered with nuclear dust. Taylor will take a few weeks to gather his thoughts before facing up to the matches that will determine whether England take part in next year's finals. Vogts is taking a holiday in Alaska and is more relaxed than he has been for some time. 'Matthaus is more like himself, and some of the players for whom we have great hopes are doing well.'

Germany's World Cup squad will include five players who turned out for the Under-21 team last season, including the exciting midfielder Christian Ziege. Continuity, progression. Meanwhile, England continue to stumble along.

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