Klinsmann silences doubters … for now

February 28, 2009

Juergen Klinsmann, who has turned German soccer upside down the last four years with a dynamic and modern approach to the game, has once again managed to silence the domestic naysayers, at least for the time being.

Bayern’s 5-0 thrashing of Sporting Lisbon put an abrupt halt to the media speculation that Klinsmann’s job was on the line after Bayern lost three of their first four Bundesliga matches since the start of the second half of the season in January.

Never mind that Bayern opened 2009 with an awesome performance in destroying VfB Stuttgart 5-1 in a German Cup match, those losses (in which Bayern played well) combined with one truly dreadful effort last week, a 2-1 defeat at home against Cologne, suddenly had the poets in the press box writing Klinsmann’s obituary.

They were some of the very same short-sighted scribes who were calling for Klinsmann’s head three months before the World Cup in 2006 after Germany lost a friendly to Italy 4-1. Germany were unbeaten in their next nine matches and made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup before losing to Italy (again!) in extra-time.

After a spell back in California, his first job as a head coach in club football got off to a somewhat rough start, as several internationals coming back from Euro 2008 struggled to get fit, but by the end of 2008 Bayern were back dominating German football. It’s amazing that after just one poor match against Cologne some are writing Klinsmann off again.

Ulli Hoeness, the Bayern sporting director, made it clear on Thursday after Bayern’s victory in Lisbon that the media got it all wrong. “There was never any discussion about Juergen Klinsmann at Bayern Munich. There was only a media discussion.”

Certainly Klinsmann may rub many in Germany the wrong way. He’s an optimist in a country that can feel like its full of pessimists, he’s always trying new ideas and his affinity for offensive-minded football is fraught with risk. But let’s face it: Bayern are fun to watch this year and on a good night, like against Sporting, they can probably beat anyone in Europe. Give Klinsmann two years’ time and see what happens.

PHOTO: Bayern Munich’s Italian striker Luca Toni celebrates after scoring his team’s fifth goal against Sporting during their Champions League  match in Lisbon, Feb 25, 2009. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

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And now he has been linked to the job at Manchester City. Both club and Juergen Klinsmann himself had distanced themselves from the rumours.

Bayern Munich are playing away at Werder Bremen tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how it will be played out considering Werder sent AC Milan out of the UEFA Cup on Thursday. No one will need reminders that the last time these two met in the league, it was 5-2 to Werder. The beginning of a ‘crisis’ at Bayern.

But then again, I only hope for the best for Klinsmann at Bayern. Even if he is not well-liked for his ideas all the time. In fact if not for him at the 2006 World Cup when he was the Germany coach, I will not be watching and following the Bundesliga since. The man indirectly had a hand in it. :)

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