Fired USMNT boss Jurgen Klinsmann has spoken at length about his tenure in charge of the United States, calling his time as manager and technical director “incomplete.”
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, in his first interview since the decision to make the change to Bruce Arena, Klinsmann said that “I was not surprised” by the firing and that “we were let go because we lost two games,” referring to the pair of losses to Mexico and Costa Rica that leaves the United States bottom of the CONCACAF 2018 World Cup qualifying two matches in.
“In the professional world, you don’t have the right to put it that way,” Klinsmann said after being asked if he felt like he had enough time. “If the people that pay you, at the end of the day, think you lost two games and [they] decided to go in a new direction, you’ve got to give them the OK to do so.”
Despite being fired in relatively uncerimonious manner after 5-1/2 years in charge, Klinsmann says he thinks he had a lasting impact that will be noticed down the road. “We laid the ground for another generation of players,” he said. “But that cycle of players, they will need time to grow.”
“It was, in a way, an incomplete picture that was given,” Klinsmann said. “And you will never see if anything will be complete because it’s just kind of cut off. It just shows you how abrupt the business is. Incomplete may be the best word.”
Swans have two massive matches in the next seven days, six-pointers against Crystal Palace and Bournemouth, with caretaker manager Alan Curtis at the helm.
After that, it’s a brutal run of matches which includes Arsenal, Liverpool, Southampton, and Manchester City.
Given the instability at the club, Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins will have a hard time convincing a big name to take the helm. Francesco Guidolin was given the job after keeping the team safe but not allowed final say on transfers, and Bradley didn’t even get one window despite leaving his job at Le Havre.
Swansea simply have to open up the war chest and their trust tree for the new boss. Another Andre Ayew or Ashley Williams cannot be sold without a tested replacement. And frankly, Swans fans should be worried that players like Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente could ask to leave the mess behind.
Already the same names are being recycled as possibilities to take the job: Welsh heroes Ryan Giggs and Chris Coleman, as well as recently fired Palace boss Alan Pardew.
It’s worth noting that, in addition to only being first chair on a caretaker basis at Manchester United, Giggs has never been in a relegation campaign as a player or coach anywhere… ever.
Coleman would be a worthwhile risk and has hero status after guiding Wales in EURO 2016, but would he leave the national team gig despite his goal of helping them to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Pardew is available and will certainly believe he could handle the job. But his penchant for leading streaky teams should probably cool Swansea’s interest. It’s big risk/reward with “Pardiola”.
Other candidates tabbed for the gig are Roy Hodgson, who could go head-to-head with fellow ex-England boss Sam Allardyce in a relegation race, and many seem to think former Birmingham City boss Gary Rowett could be the man for the job.
And how about this one? Former USMNT boss Jurgen Klinsmann is listed by the oddsmakers as an option to replace Bradley. Surely that would also be deemed to big of a risk, as Klinsmann is another man who’s not afraid to ruffle his players and also hasn’t been involved in too many relegation skirmishes.
Then again, can’t you hear the phone calls from Wales to Germany?
“Timmy Chandler, it’s me, Jurgen… I’m getting the band back together.”
But Bradley maintains he was not pleased by the coaching change, taking responsibility for Klinsmann losing his job. The 29-year-old says, “as captain, nobody takes that harder than me.”
Bradley now gets another run under Bruce Arena, who gave the midfielder his first caps. Arena is also a good friend of Bradley’s father Bob, and most would assume the captain is excited for the opportunity.
“Once a change is made, you have to turn the page quickly,” Bradley continued. “I’m very excited to work with Bruce again. He gave me my first opportunities with the national team. [We’ve] maintained a relationship from afar. I have a lot of respect for the career he’s had and the way he has gone about making every team he’s coached better. His record speaks for itself. I’m excited to work with him again.”
The expectation is that Arena will adopt a two-man defensive midfield, and it seems likely that Bradley will pair with someone other than Jermaine Jones (certainly for the first World Cup qualifier, as the German-born menace is suspended for yellow card accumulation).
One of the big hopes for USMNT supporters will be a return to national greatness for Bradley, whose play has slipped in a midfield with Jones. Arena will bring positional and tactical stability.
“It’s coming to end. Gotta respect that. I just want to say thank you so much to our fans, especially the American Outlaws. … A very very special thank you to all of the players. The response to them yesterday when the news came out was overwhelming. All the text message and calls of support were overwhelming. I wish them the best of luck. I was 1000 percent convinced we would qualify for Russia. It’s down to a new coach, but I’m still convinced he’ll get the job done.”
On hiring Arena: “I don’t view it as Bruce 2, but Bruce 2.0. He has far more experience than he had the first go-round. He’s proven and re-proven himself.”
On Arena’s timeline: “We have an agreement through the World Cup with various contingencies as all contracts have.”
On foreign-born players: “If you’re eligible, you are available for selection. We are open to anyone, whether they are born abroad or born here.”
What did Klinsmann do well? “The commentary with seriousness of how players approach the game and their craft… The shorter term issues like new players, whether Christian, Bobby Wood, or Jordan Morris, those are obvious ones. Another important one is off the field, the awareness to the program, the attention to the program. Jurgen, by virtue of who he was elevated the program around the world. He came into a program that had a very solid foundation in my view. … In his own way, he’s built on that and Bruce will continue that process.”
On the technical director position: “We’re not in a rush.”
On the Arena hiring timeline: “Bruce and I talk pretty regularly. We’re friends, we work in the sport, and he’s coached our national team. That’s not just the case with Bruce. The discussions about coaching the team started in the last 48 hours. We met with Bruce yesterday in the afternoon, and concluded an agreement about 2 hours ago.”
Where did you think the USMNT would be by now? “The easiest metric is wins and losses. In an ideal world, 2-0. 0-2 put us in a very difficult position. We’d like to see the team playing at the Confederations Cup next summer. We would’ve liked to see the Olympic team in Brazil. If I could pick three things, those would be things.”
On Arena beyond 2018, and how there’s nothing contractual beyond it: “We both have options to talk to each other after the World Cup.”
On his hiring: “I’m thrilled to be back with the national team. It’s the greatest honor for a coach in our country. We have a great challenge ahead but we have a great pool of players to reach out goal of qualifying for Russia in 2018.”
Where has the team gone in last decade (since he was let go in 2006)? “That’s not an easy question to ask. US Soccer has made great progress with the growth of the league and our players playing abroad. Winning World Cups is difficult as we know, but I think the United States is edging closer to that day. I have a lot of confidence in our domestic pool and players playing in Europe and Mexico. Since I left in 2006, the pool of players has certainly expanded.”
On his comments about foreign-born players: “I don’t know how that came about. I guess we did that interview three years ago. If I made those comments, I certainly don’t believe that that’s my attitude… I’m all for any players that are eligible to play for us. I look forward to, using your term, our foreign nationals in addition to our (domestic players).”
On his priorities: “The most important thing right now is I’m very familiar with the pool of players, but to have as many conversations with as many players by January camp, and touch base with our entire pool of players by March. … We’ll develop an identity over the next couple months, and hopefully feel comfortable working with each other.”
On hiring assistants and calling up players: “We’re gonna take a week or two to think this out and select the strongest staff that we can have. I don’t think the roster is going to have radical changes from the last couple of camps but there will obviously be some changes.”
On his plans, and the Costa Rica loss: “I would’ve done this for free. The game in Costa Rica was certainly disappointing. Hopefully it’s one that allows us to step back and evaluate what went wrong for the team, and get us prepared for how to play on the road in CONCACAF. The only thing I’m going to tell you is we’re going to make it better.”
On how he’s grown since he last held the USMNT job: “I’ve had 10 years on the field at the club level. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented players in the world, and understanding how they work. Continue to grow on the tactical side. … Ten years later I’m better prepared for this job than I was in 1998, 2002, and ultimately 2006. … One of the things you learn from experience is you see things a lot clearer, a lot quicker.”
“How would I describe myself as a coach? A hard worker. I like to believe I’m a players coach. What I really know is how to build a team, and I understand all the qualities and circumstances that go into how to make a team.”
On players like Jonathan Bornstein and Benny Feilhaber: “They and others are good players. We’re going to give those kind of players the opportunity to back in the national team program. I’m well aware of the quality of those two and others. It’s highly unlikely we’re going to bring many new players into the program.”
On who he’s spoken to thusfar: “I haven’t spoken to Michael Bradley but I have had communication with a couple of players over the last 10 hours or so. We need to build a chemistry with this team and build a common goal, work on a team concept. We have good players. We just gotta get them working together as a team.”
On his intended style: “A difficult question. Your style is dictated by the qualities of your players. We are who we are. The American quality is teams that have been harder to play against. If you saw the European Championships last summer, the Copa America, the U.S. isn’t far behind. We’re traditionally strong in the goal. We have some young attacking talent, and we have some experienced players in the midfield.”