Halloween is a well celebrated festival in the UK and USA, but in Germany in 2016 it will be a festival of a different sort. Instead of dressing up as ghosts, devils or sexy cats (...?), Germans will have cause to celebrate the magic of another few years of Joachim Löw as manager of the national team after he renewed his contract today. After a difficult experience at Euro 2016 there were rumours that Löw might be on the way out when his current contract expired, but it was today confirmed that he will stay on for the foreseeable future. His new contract will see him, results permitting, lead die Mannschaft into Euro 2020, allowing him to continue the integration of a new generation of German talent into the first team.
After joining off the back of the hugely successful World Cup on home soil in 2006, Löw has overseen many a high. The World Cup win in 2014 was the nation's first as a fully reunified country (World Cup 1990 was slightly before official unification) and a hugely significant moment in German football history. It was the end of a huge rebuilding process (analysed in detail in Das Reboot by Rafael Honigstein) which saw the German national team go from a weak, under-performing side at the turn of the century into a world superpower again within 15 years. Germans always maintain losing 5-1 to England in Munich in 2001 wasn't as big a deal to them as it was to us (the English), but it certainly signalled to the hierarchy that something needed to change. Jürgen Klinsmann began the process; Löw finished it emphatically.
It looked like a golden generation of German footballers were going to go the same way as England, however, after three tournaments in a row after the emergence of Phillip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski in 2006 ended in the team not winning a trophy: Euro 2012 and World Cup 2010 saw the German side make progress, uncover new talent and hint that they could win it all, before crashing out in the semi-finals. In 2008 they reached the final before falling to the dominant force in world football, Spain. The old enemy, Italy, and the (future/ reigning) World Champions, Spain, ensured German progress was steady but unsuccessful, but Löw was in the process of building a dynasty. With the likes of Thomas Müler, Mesut Özil and Manuel Neuer coming into the team during his reign it can really be seen as his success, his visionary selections, which brought Germany their fourth World Cup title in 2014. It was a masterclass.
Spain dominated the world from 2007 through to 2014; Germany were close behind and seemed certain to steal the throne for the next generation of players after their World Cup success. But Euro 2016 disappointed, with the 2012 semi-finalists falling at the same stage earlier this year to eventual runners-up France. Löw faced plenty of criticism after that defeat, especially after France failed to beat an underwhelming Portugal side in the final, but he was never at risk of losing his job. Unlike club football, international managers get more leeway (especially after a World Cup win!) and to be honest Löw was never facing the sack anyway, more a demand that his side show more flexibility. As Germany look to build to the World Cup in Russia Löw is seen as the man to lead the charge. The World Cup remains the only tournament Germans really care about - the Euros are often seen in the same light as the Europa League, in that it is great if they do win but not a huge loss if they merely don't embarrass themselves - so getting it right in qualifying and at the tournament will be crucial.
Currently without a striker, it would possibly be seen as Löw's greatest triumph yet if he were to lead Germany to back-to-back World Cups. However, with the talent at his disposal he will be expected to go deep in the tournament again and with a contract until 2020 there appears to be every belief within the DFB that he can pull it off.