The Germany general manager, Oliver Bierhoff, has suggested his compatriot Jürgen Klinsmann is in discussions with the Football Association over the vacant England head coach role and would be a good choice.
Klinsmann, who last month steered the United States to a best-ever fourth-place finish at the Copa América, would fulfil the criteria stipulated by the FA. He is a World Cup and European Championship winner who has experienced the Premier League as a player with Tottenham Hotspur, speaks excellent English and has enjoyed a fruitful career in international management with USA and Germany.
Perhaps most significantly he played his part in reforming the Germany national team set-up a little over a decade ago, bringing in Bierhoff as general manager in 2004 and helping to kickstart a revolution based on discarding the old guard and the promotion of youth. Germany have since featured in the semi-finals at six consecutive major tournaments, winning the 2014 World Cup.
“It’s not like putting a hand on the shoulder and everything happens,” said Bierhoff, a close friend of Klinsmann, when asked about the FA’s intention to appoint a strong figure to revive England’s fortunes after another miserable tournament. “A lot of things need to come together. When we failed at Euro 2000 we invested a lot in the infrastructure and the education of young players and coaches, so now we have a lot of talented players and the Bundesliga is investing in young players.
“Perhaps it is an advantage that good players go to England and other countries, so our clubs have to bring other players through. But since the arrival of Jürgen Klinsmann – who I think is in discussions with England – we have also given the national team a certain pride, atmosphere and organisation. The success of the story is the high quality but also the good organisation and good atmosphere we have in the group.”
Asked whether Klinsmann could thrive with England, Bierhoff said: “He would be a good fit. We started in 2004 together and he’s not always, how can I say, nice to handle because he wants to change [things]. But he brings motivation. He has the courage to make difficult decisions and, perhaps, you need something like this.”
Klinsmann, who steered Germany to the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup, has overseen the USA since 2011 after a brief spell with Bayern Munich and is contracted until the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The 51-year-old’s time in charge has had its difficulties and relations with the president of the US Soccer Federation, Sunil Gulati, have been strained of late, not least over the governing body’s apparent reluctance to appoint a Bierhoff-like figure as general manager.
Klinsmann suggested on Friday in an interview with CNN that, although he remains excited at building a legacy in the US, the football structure in the country remains fragile and disconnected and referenced England as an example of a system built to flourish. “It’s a bigger puzzle in the United States than in other countries and it’s not perfect yet,” he said. “We don’t have a system in place like France or Germany or even South American countries.
“If you look at the FA in England, it’s more than 100 years old and they already have their infrastructure, scouting, coaches’ education, national training centre, and the pyramid is connected. There’s relatively little infrastructure work to do in England. Here in the United States building that infrastructure is still important.”
The FA, which has preferred not to comment on the identity of specific candidates, has not set a timescale for the search for a manager and is likely to appoint an interim to oversee fixtures in September, which include the first World Cup qualifier in Slovakia.
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