Silence of the fans: city of football lovers numbed in disbelief

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The Independent Online

They were ready to hang out the black flag on Munich's town hall last night as Germans stared at the scoreline in disbelief after their football team's worst defeat in living memory.

A kind of numb silence descended on the nation's football followers. In this, Germany's second city, in the streets where I went ghoulishly looking for reaction, you could hear a pin drop in the hours after the game.

Finally, I found one passer-by who was prepared to admit to being German and watching the match. "It's just embarrassing" said Franzi, a student from Stuttgart who was watching the match in a bar near the city's main railway station. "A country like Germany obviously must win against a country like England," she added. "After all, we have history on our side."

Then Kurt Schupp, a 41-year-old fan from the Black Forest, chipped in, a little more upbeat. "We just had a terrible day, and England were hot. But you can't make a drama out of it. It's just a defeat."

There has been much talk in Germany recently of a dearth of fresh footballing talent, but Mr Schupp would not hear of it. "We were full of angst in this game. The defence was atrocious, the midfield useless, and Jancke and Neuville up front are just not up to playing at this level."

But hope springs eternal. "Look at our last game against Hungary. We won 5-2 with a lot of young players. They were great. Unfortunately, they did get a full game tonight. There are lots of young players in the wings and Rudi should now bring them on."

Franzi's boyfriend, Johannes, was less sanguine about the next generation. "I think German football in general is in a very poor state at the moment. England have improved a lot, but Germany have got into a muddle."

The Germans, unlike the English, prefer to stick with the same manager for many years. Rudi Voller has only been in the job for a year, and as far as the fans were concerned, until last night, he could walk on water.

The honeymoon is now clearly over, and even conservative minded Germans will find it hard to escape the conclusion that this was Rudi's defeat. Already, the spectre of Kevin Keegan's fate looms over him. "Rudi is a super guy," Johannes said. "He is a very sympathetic character – just not a good coach."

The German tabloids, even though they lack the lurid, xenophobic vocabulary of the English counterparts, are not liable to be so forgiving. Analogies with turnips are not likely but graphics with cabbages are now a strong likelihood.

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