Persons knowledgeable about sports have repeatedly asked why U.S. senior Men’s football coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, and Press Officer, Michael Kammarman, had reacted with such hostility to a routine question by Vincentian sports journalist, E. Glenford Prescott after their team’s World Cup encounter with St. Vincent and the Grenadines at Arnos Vale in September.
The question: “You are on the verge of qualification, but should you not qualify, what would be the future of Jurgen Klinsmann?”
That question, as innocuous as it appeared when posed at the time just after the U.S. had beaten SVG’s Vincy Heat 6-0 at the Arnos Vale Playing Field on Sept. 2, appeared to strike morbid fear in Klinsmann’s mind.
It drew out a jittery and offensive reaction from the pair who berated Prescott for asking the question, which they described as “stupid” and calling the poser “an as*h*le” in a heated exchange.
One intemperate Vincentian sports writer also termed the question “stupid”.
But two weeks ago the reason for the response of the Americans was made clear when U.S. Soccer president, Sunil Gulati fired Klinsmann as coach and technical director. The dismissal came after the team had lost matches against Mexico at home and a humiliating 4-0 hammering in Costa Rica in the Hexagonal stage of the of the qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The U.S. Soccer Federation later announced that Bruce Arena, a three-time MLS Cup champion over the past eight seasons with the Los Angeles Galaxy, was the man they had appointed to over the programme.
The contract, reports say, will run through the 2018 World Cup.
“I don’t view it as Bruce 2 but sort of Bruce 2.0,” USSF President Sunil Gulati said. “He’s got far more experience than he did when he had the national team the first go-around and has proven, and re-proven, many times at all levels of the game in the United States that he is an extraordinarily capable and successful coach.”
Arena, 65, won five NCAA championships at the University of Virginia and two MLS titles in three years with United before serving his first tour with the U.S. team from 1998 to 2006.
Fox Sports Ryan Rosenblattin in his piece “8 reasons Jurgen Klinsmann was fired as USMNT manager” in November showed that the Arnos Vale incident was not one in isolation with the man who is seen as aloof and arrogant in some quarters.
“Klinsmann said that he thought it was important for the media and fans to put more pressure on the national team, and to demand more. That was all well and good until the media and fans criticised him — then he said that people in the U.S. didn’t know the sport well enough to criticise,” Rosenblattin wrote.
He went on: “Klinsmann also got into a public feud with MLS commissioner Don Garber, leading to an unusual back and forth through the media in which the two sides criticised each other and the comments”.
And he concluded: “By the end of his tenure, there weren’t many people in American soccer left that Klinsmann hadn’t talked down to or insulted.”
Rosenblattin said that It was not just that Klinsmann’s U.S. team had been losing since the 2014 World Cup but who had beaten them and how.
The team’s 2015 Gold Cup semifinal loss to Jamaica was their first to a Caribbean team on home soil since Haiti in1969.
Their March loss to Guatemala was their first defeat at the hands of the Central Americans in 28 years.
Their loss to Mexico on Nov. 11 was their first home World Cup qualifying loss to their rivals since 1972.
And their 4-0 loss to Costa Rica four days later was their worst shutout loss in qualifying in more than three decades, he highlighted in his piece.
It was felt that based on the relationship between Klinsmann and Gulati that there had to be something of significant negative impact for the job to be taken away the coach. And that did come with the losses to Mexico and Costa Rica to open the final round of World Cup qualifying which has left the U.S. last in their qualifying group.
“While we remain confident that we have quality players to help us advance to Russia 2018, the form and growth of the team up to this point left us convinced that we need to go in a different direction,” Gulati was reported to have said in a statement then.
In addition to his attitude to the media and critics of his approach and style, Klinsmann did not enjoy the best of relationship with his players, according to reports.
Reports say the 52-year-old coach had a record of 55-27-16 during his spell and led the team to an all -time calendar year 16 victories in 2013.
In 2014, the team advanced out of the “Group of Death” and reached the round of 16 in the World Cup. Most recently, the team finished fourth in the 2016 Copa America Centenario held in the United States.
Klinsmann, despite being seen by many as being out of his depth as a coach, is said to have brought an impressive resume to the U.S. job.
As a player, Klinsmann was a top striker in a 17-year career with stints in four major European leagues at renowned clubs such as Inter Milan, Tottenham Hotspur and Bayern Munich. But his career was blighted with controversy towards the end as he was accused of “diving” by opponents and spectators in an effort to win penalties.
He made 108 appearances for Germany and scored 47 goals, including 11 goals from three World Cups (1990, 1994 and 1998), and was part of Germany’s team which won the European championship in 1996.
Klinsmann retired in 1998 and moved to the United States, settling in California with his wife and two children.
Six years later, he took over as coach of the German national team and led them to a third -place finish in the 2006 World Cup. Klinsmann compiled a 20-8-6 record in charge.
While he was linked with a move to England and was reportedly interviewed by the English FA for the manager’s job in June, Klinsmann appears not to be a man in demand following his sacking by U.S. Soccer with no news of any interest to date from any possible would-be employers.