We deserve loyalty and respect, insists Ballack
BERLIN (AFP) — Germany captain Michael Ballack has jumped to the defence of team-mate Torsten Frings on Tuesday and launched a thinly-veiled attack on national coach Joachim Loew.
Ballack, 32, is currently recovering from a foot operation having led Germany to World Cup qualifier wins over Russia and Wales earlier this month.
But his experienced midfield colleague Frings was left on the bench for both games and Ballack told the Frankfurter Allgemeinen newspaper: "If he (Loew) doesn't want him (Frings) anymore then the issue should be addressed honestly."
Ballack says senior players should be treated with a certain respect to help the team's hierarchy, pointing to the treatment handed to Oliver Kahn and Christian Woerns by ex-Germany boss Jurgen Klinsmann - when Loew was the assistant coach.
"Experienced national players deserve at least some respect and loyalty," said the Chelsea star.
"I think there were cases in the past - for example Oliver Kahn - who was put in competition with Jens Lehmann which, in my eyes, he (Kahn) could never win.
"Or Christian Woerns who played previously in the same position as Christoph Metzelder."
Germany coach Loew admitted he was "totally shocked" to hear his captain's comments and said he was "surprised and disappointed" to be criticised by Ballack through the media.
And German Football Federation boss Theo Zwanziger recommends players "exchange views with the national coach and not through the media" in future.
In the interview, Ballack went on to question whether senior players in the Germany squad have been shown due respect and loyalty in the past months since Euro 2008 last June.
"There was a group of experienced players in that squad like Torsten Frings, Miroslav Klose and me whose achievements have suddenly been questioned and we find ourselves under attack," said Ballack.
And despite Frings being left on the bench for last month's home wins, Ballack says he hopes the Werder Bremen midfielder does not decide to retire, as he has hinted.
While Ballack says Schalke striker Kevin Kuranyi's decision to walk out on the Germany squad midway through the 2-1 win over Russia in Dortmund on October 11 was "unacceptable", he said he could understand his frustrations.
"Things became difficult for him," admitted Ballack. "He has played in the Champions League year in, year out and proved he can score the important goals when he needs to for the national side.
"That is an important criteria for getting selected for the national side, where does that leave us if that doesn't count any longer?"
Ballack claims there can be serious consequences if senior players are not given their due as happened in Euro 2000 when Germany failed to qualify from the group phase.
"We were a team of good players who didn't function, because the hierarchy wasn't right," said Ballack. "We should be careful to encourage players. I want this team to become world champions and that is a real possibility."
But despite Ballack's outspoken and frank interview, Loew suggested there will be no disciplinary action taken against his captain.
"As a captain, he is an important partner for me and this doesn't change anything," said Loew.
"The selection policy is decided by me and my coaching staff.
"For us, it remains indisputable that we do not move away, as has happened on in the past, from selecting on merit and thus we want to keep competition in the squad.
"We treat all national players - whether younger or older - with the necessary respect.
"Some may be disappointed sometimes, but our team is the elite of football in Germany and we play the world's best sides.
"So players individual achievements and the success of the team must stand above everything else."