Leeds United‘s ignominious exit from the Capital One Cup at Doncaster on Thursday night seems likely to have far-reaching consequences way beyond the effects on Yorkshire’s leading club this season, with dire sanctions being proposed against the Leeds Head Coach Uwe Rösler.
United’s failure to progress hung on an abysmal performance in the penalty shoot-out following a draw after extra time. It is well-known in football circles that progress is the rule rather than the exception for teams coached by Germans in these sudden death tie-breakers. German efficiency in penalty competitions is of legendary proportions, as Gareth Southgate, Chris Waddle and sundry other defeated English footballers could testify.
However, on this occasion, the Head Coach’s Teutonic origins were of no help to his team, who displayed all the deadly accuracy and cool nerve of a bunch of baby hippos trying to perfect an ice-skating routine. First Sam Byram and then Chris Wood lashed penalties over the bar, with the Doncaster keeper sagging against a goalpost, helpless with laughter. Wood’s penalty, in particular, seemed to be headed into orbit, though rumours that it caused alarm aboard the International Space Station are thought to be nearly as wide of the mark as the penalty kick itself.
All of this has been received with a distinct lack of enthusiasm back in Rösler’s native land. Germans rightly pride themselves on their legendary accuracy from the penalty spot – they even have a regular football publication called Elfmeter, the German word for “penalty kick”. The fact that a team coached by a German could show such an alarming lack of ability when it comes to putting a ball somewhere in the 192 square feet of space under the bar and between the posts, is seen as genuinely shameful. There are, allegedly, even calls for Rösler to be stripped of his German nationality and regarded henceforth as English – the ultimate in nationalist insults, with the possible exception of being branded Polish.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, herself a passionate football fan who has been known to listen to games while on official business in the Bundestag, was tight-lipped when asked to comment on the matter of Rösler’s ongoing status as a German citizen. “This is a matter for the relevant department of government”, she said, through tight lips. “However, I can certainly say that Herr Rösler would not be welcome anywhere near my team, FC Energie Cottbus. Now, don’t bother me – go and ask your Herr Cameron whether he follows Aston Villa, Burnley or West Ham this week.”
The Auswärtiges Amt, or German Foreign Office, was somewhat more helpful, pointing out that a German citizen who voluntarily serves in a foreign army (over and above compulsory military service) from 1 January 2000 may lose German citizenship unless permission is obtained from the German government. Their spokesperson went on: “This Department is now looking into the situation of Herr Rösler and his involvement with what is known as the YRA, or ‘Yorkshire’s Republican Army‘. A further statement may be issued when those investigations are complete.”
Franz Beckenbauer is 94.