Southampton have had a terrific season in the Premier League, as the Saints sit in ninth spot and have been impressing with their attractive style and crop of talented teenage sensations.
Off the pitch, there was a little bit of unrest when Executive Chairman Nicola Cortese walked out in January, but since then the club has been stabilized by billionaire owner Katharina Liebherr steeping in as Non-Executive Chairwoman and calming things down considerably.
The German born-Swiss owner has assembled a top backroom staff to help her run Premier League Southampton as she has no previous experience in soccer, with Austrian football agent Josef Lenhart joining as a director. But it was a little strange when it was announced last month that former Edmonton Oilers and Swiss national team hockey coach Ralph Krueger would be joining Southampton.
Know for his hugely successful motivational techniques on both sides of the Atlantic, Krueger has just returned from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi as an adviser to the Canadian national hockey team that won Olympic gold. Now the 54-year-old is in Southampton and eager to help Saints move onto the next level alongside Liebherr.
This is what Krueger had to say when interviewed in Sochi, as he insisted he doesn’t want to get involved in the coaching side of things and will instead leave that to manager Mauricio Pochettino.
“Katharina was looking for someone to come in from sport on the leadership side. We’ll look at ways to improve commercially and continue to grow what’s already there. This is the start of a new world for me. I’ve got to come in gently. We don’t need sudden changes of direction. What Mauricio [Pochettino] doesn’t need is someone getting involved day-to-day. He and his staff need space so they can continue to grow the group. I’ve met Mauricio; he’s very honest, a strong personality and he has strong values. I will stay in my place. He should feel comfortable.”
Saints have had a track record of making peculiar appointments when it comes to coaching staff. Back in 2005 when they were first relegated to the English Championship from the Premier League, former England Rugby Union coach Sir Clive Woodward joined on a development role to work with the academy. That didn’t last too long, but it proves that Saints are always thinking outside the box with how to move forward.
Can Krueger be successful after switching the world of ice hockey for soccer? This is going to be very interesting.
It isn’t Dortmund, but that’s a good thing for Liverpool.
Our own Joe Prince-Wright was on the scene for Jurgen Klopp’s unveiling as the latest Reds manager, and the 48-year-old German had a lot to say.
Perhaps most poignant for Liverpool fans are Klopp’s words on the talent he inherits from Brendan Rodgers. Sure there are quips that will hit the headlines, but how about Klopp’s assertion that success shouldn’t take nearly as long as his dramatic work at BVB.
From JPW on Merseyside:
“We did in Dortmund what we had to do, to improve the players, to work for a common idea of play. That is what we did and its the same thing we want to do here. They are not the same players of course,” Klopp told NBC Sports ProSoccerTalk. “These players from Liverpool are better, more experienced in some ways and younger in other cases. Everything is okay, I am here. I am not here only because LFC was calling. I believe in the potential of this team. Four or five strikers you can work with when they are not injured, midfielders is really good, defenders experienced and very young, goalkeeper is really good. Everything is there.”
Everything. A powerful word and one that doesn’t get lost in translation. Liverpool has a batch of world class talent, and Klopp’s is anxious to organize it in world class fashion. Strap in, Anfield.
So here we go: the biggest rivalry in U.S. Soccer, the one that sends fans racing for the stadia for a glimpse of history.
It’s the U.S. and Mexico for the right to go to the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, and it will play out at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night.
National pride is on the line, and national jobs may rightly be in jeopardy. Let’s swing through our coverage, and what’s at stake in just over 24 hours time.
Who is the key to Saturday’s match? Is it Michael Bradley? Fabian Johnson? Andres Guardado? Will Klinsmann opt for players with Liga MX experience, stay Euro Heavy, or appease the domestic set? Read more here.
So how will Klinsmann line ’em up? JPW has his preference, some options, and a prediction of what the manager will do.
What are the chances this one finds its way into the upper echelon of matches in the Mexico/U.S. rivalry? This is the company it could join.
The folks in the anti-Klinsmann brigade seethe with pure detestation of the USMNT boss. Any quote from him is self-serving and dishonest, any success accidental. Beat Germany or the Netherlands in friendlies on the road? Coincidental and Unimportant. Lose a friendly to Brazil? The worst thing ever.
[ MORE: The case for firing Klinsmann after a loss ]
So this match, being meaningful and testing his unbeaten mark vs Mexico, is going to be a clarion call for U.S. Soccer fans. Barring a cataclysmic loss in horrific blowout fashion, he won’t be canned. But a win will be validation for his supporters while a loss would cue a genuine hot seat. And for his detractors, already foaming at the mouth from the words of icon Landon Donovan? Kablammo.