FRANKFURT • The Germany team may have arrived home in Frankfurt yesterday after their humiliating World Cup exit in the first round, but coach Joachim Low's future remained up in the air.
By his own assessment, his side had lost "everything we've built".
The 58-year-old, who extended his contract to 2022 last month, had led "Turniermannschaft" - the tournament team - to at least the semi-finals of every tournament they have played in since taking charge in 2006.
But, over three games, the Germans failed to live up to their nickname and their illustrious history.
For the first time, the four-time champions failed to get out of the group stage and suffered the added ignominy of finishing bottom of Group F. Their title-defending campaign saw them take the lead for all of one minute.
"All of German football has lost not just a match, but everything we have built in the last few years. We say sorry," Low said.
NOT THE REAL MANNSCHAFT
This was not the real German team... I miss the speed in our game, the creativity in our game, the power in our game... Everything was great in the last 30, 40 years in German football - this team show everything opposite.
LOTHAR MATTHAUS, former Germany captain, who skippered West Germany to victory at the 1990 World Cup.
NAIVE GERMANS HAVE NO COUNTER MOVE
You very much never see the Germans being called naive, they were counter-attacked in every single game. You never see the Germans look like an inexperienced and naive team.
GARY NEVILLE, former England defender
CHOP SOME PLAYERS, NOT THE COACH
Maybe we have to change some parts of the team and start again and some players should not get another call-up, because they are past their best.
MARIO BASLER, former Germany winger, backs Joachim Low to continue as coach and believes some players should pay the price instead.
As he continued to reflect on their demise, he refused to confirm if he would take change of their Euro 2020 campaign.
"It's premature for me to say something, I'm incredibly disappointed," he added, with critics already calling for his sacking.
"Where we go from here - we will have to take some time and talk about it calmly."
Bild daily said head coach Low's fate would be decided in the coming days following talks with the German Football Federation.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said only Low's departure could give Germany the "new start" they needed.
There have been accusations of arrogance about Germany, notably in Marco Reus' comment after being left out for their 1-0 opening loss to Mexico that he was being saved for "important games".
Even Low's tactics in that match, piling forward with only Sami Khedira protecting the defence seemed, in retrospect, to have underestimated their opponents.
The obsession with attacking, with playing on the front foot, is reflected in the fact Germany have conceded in each of their past eight games.
"Maybe we thought at the push of a button we could shift gears, but we lost against Mexico," Low said. "If we had taken a point, it would have been different.
"We couldn't flip that switch. We were convinced once the tournament started, we would be able to play well, but it didn't happen."
It was clearly the Mexico game that rankled, far less than the edgy win against Sweden or the defeat by South Korea on Wednesday, when Germany were forced to chase the game.
Yet the manner in which Die Mannschaft conceded the second goal against Korea, with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer playing outfield, rankled former Germany internationals.
"Towards the end, with that Neuer incident, it bordered on embarrassment, because this is not how German football has been represented over the last four or five decades," former midfielder Dietmar Hamann told RTE.
"I got knocked out in the European Championship group stage (in 2000), but you've got to conduct yourself in a certain way and they didn't do that."
Germany failed to advance from their group at the World Cup for the first time.
2 of 3
Germany did not score in two of their three games in Russia, as many as their previous 15 World Cup matches combined.
Germany's two-goal haul at this World Cup is the second fewest managed by holders, only ahead of France's zero in 2002.
Germany conceded four goals in the group stage for the first time since 1986. In 2014, they conceded four in the entire tournament.
South Korea are the first Asian team in 24 years to score against Germany.
The odds bookmakers set for South Korea to beat Germany, making the upset the biggest in Russia.
Captain Neuer insisted that even if Germany had pulled off another come-from-behind victory, as they needed to against Sweden, they would not lasted much longer in the tournament.
"I think that all of us weren't up for it and did not have the absolute will to show that we wanted to tear something down here at the World Cup," he said.
"Even if it had worked out today, it would have been over for us in the knockout phase in the next game or the game after... It's very bitter and also just pathetic."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE