Held in suspicion for a) residing in the US and b) taking his players to a rave, Germany manager Jurgen Klinsman is under fire as the host team prepares for the 2006 World Cup. From the New York Times’ Jere Longman.
A self-described cosmopolitan who speaks four languages, Klinsmann has hired an American trainer, as well as a sports psychologist, and has opened his roster to younger players. These reforms have unsettled the insular and conservative German soccer federation, which appears to want and fear change, said Oliver Bierhoff, the national team manager.
(perhaps hiring Rod Hull’s Emu as Technical Director wasn’t the wisest move for a first-time international manager).
Germany is split between those who embrace Klinsmann and those who vaguely fear an Americanization of German soccer, according to Andrei Markovits, a professor of German studies at the University of Michigan who has written about Klinsmann and anti-Americanism in Europe.
“It’s a clash between the new and the old in Germany,” Markovits said by telephone. “There is a real cleavage between the left, liberal, urbane, youngish Germany that really likes him and the ‘real’ guys who go to the bar every night and think he’s the worst because he’s sort of an intellectual, he lives in L.A. and brings in American methods and married an American wife.”
Particular dread set in March 1, when Italy routed Germany, 4-1, in an exhibition in Florence, Italy. Klinsmann was blamed for everything from poisoning German soccer to grinning too much to undermining the brittle economy.
Speculation even arose that Klinsmann could be fired if Germany were to lose an exhibition to the United States on Wednesday in Dortmund. At the least, soccer officials fear that he will be booed for dropping a Dortmund-based defender, Christian WÃ¶rns, from the national team. T-shirts exhorting “You for us and we for you” will be handed out to placate and rally the home fans.
Criticism grew so intense by last week that Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, felt it necessary to deflate mounting pressure on Klinsmann. She declared that he was “on the right track” and urged him to ignore his critics.