Jurgen Klinsmann


“This guy’s crazy, but he can play” — Jermaine Jones in his own words


Colorado Rapids midfielder Jermaine Jones answers questions with the same urgency on display when he finds a yard of space. There’s no pausing, not even for a moment, when asked how he evolves from new teammate to leader.

“People know, ‘Okay, this guy’s crazy, but he can play,’” Jones says, taking on the vantage point of a forecasting new teammate. “But as we will get to know, he will always protect me. And if he goes, I go.”

What is it with this guy, anyway?

Admired but feared, self-assured yet combustible, to speak to Jones one-on-one for any focused amount of time is to be hit with an entire universe of emotions, logic, and philosophy. The man they called “fighting pig”  at Schalke is a tornado, winding his way through American soccer and somehow only picking up power with age.

Jones defies systems at times, even coaches. His 34-year-old legs barely stop moving, occasionally because they’ve been weaponized to cause grievous harm to the opposition.

But when all’s said and done, he usually wins. Not all the time, but more often than not.

Since returning from a meniscus injury in a 3-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund as a member of Schalke on Oct. 26, 2013, Jones has played in 59 league games between Schalke, Besiktas, New England and Colorado.

His teams have lost a whopping nine of them.

“People maybe from the outside see it now, especially now that I’ve come to Colorado,” Jones said. “It wasn’t one time that I gave a team the next push, the next step to start to believe. ‘He comes, he runs, he fights, he scores. All the stuff. He doesn’t come here to talk.’ This is why we have that success.”


Jones’ drive to lead comes from necessity. The son of an American serviceman and a German mother, his mother moved his family to Germany when he was six, leaving behind a father arrested as part of a drug trafficking ring.

Not that Jones knew this then, or even for decades. According to the New York Times, the midfielder grew up thinking his father had abandoned them, and wouldn’t learn the truth until his 26th birthday when his wife Sarah contacted father Halbert and arranged a phone call with Jermaine.

“Honestly I was always a leader,” Jones said. “I decided really early back in the day, I was always the oldest one of five kids, and grew up without a dad so I knew I could lead a family in a way without a dad to take care of my brothers and sisters. That’s how it started. Every time on every team I played, I was another player in the beginning but I would get into being one of the leaders.”

He didn’t have a man he looked up to, or followed “as an idol”, but navigated his way through a series of fits and starts.

“I had learning experiences to always come back and push myself more,” he says. “You can talk and people listen, but they only listen if you give 100 percent on the field. If you do that, they call you a leader. If you only talk outside the field of play, it’s… Nobody really cares what you say. That’s what I had to learn at a young age.”

Jermaine Jones might not even be here without Friedhelm Funkel.

Six months after earning a big transfer to Bayer Leverkusen from Eintracht Frankfurt, the Germany U-21 regular’s rise through the national team program had stalled.

He spent most of time at Bayer with the Bayer Leverkusen II, where he scored five goals in 15 games but couldn’t earn regular time with the first team. He says the rise in class when it comes to teammates and training was an eye-opener.

Funkel had taken over as manager of Eintracht, and offered Jones an opportunity: Come back on loan, not as just a player but with the expectation of growing as a leader.

Find your potential.

“He called me to go with him to lunch,” Jones said. “He said I want to get you back to Frankfurt, but you have to be the leader. I want you to be the captain and all the stuff like that.

“I was still young but I had failed in one team, and I didn’t want to fail in another. I focused on the game and I focused on leadership.”

Getty Images
Jones captaining Eintracht Frankfurt (Getty Images)

The stint at Eintracht shaped him in many ways. He became a more disciplined and focused player, and endured the frustrations that come with being unable to play his beloved sport thanks to surgery on his broken left shin.

By the way, that’s an injury he played with for close to half a season. Jones says he’s never been able to stomach missing soccer games given how many people would trade anything to be in his shoes.

“There’s things that you can put into this game where people say, ‘Oh wait, you are giving everything every game, every training, and that’s what gives (fans) the club, the name,’” Jones said.

“You give the work for a lot of people who are back home from working jobs and stuff like that. People have respect when you run hard for the team. You can lose but you gotta give everything.”

Yet his departure from Eintracht, the club who gave him the lifeline from Bayer, was not a celebration. Jones, the club captain, didn’t agree to a contract with Eintracht that met his expectations and desire. He left for Schalke, a move that would make him a regular in the UEFA Champions League and cement his status as a national team prospect.

For two nations.

Jones logged a total of 98 minutes between a trio of friendlies for Germany in 2008, booking a win, draw and loss against Austria, Belarus, and England.

BERLIN - NOVEMBER 19: Jermaine Jones of Germany moves away from the challenge of Michael Carrick of England during the International Friendly match between Germany and England at the Olympic Stadium on November 19, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Jones, with Germany, moves away from the challenge of Michael Carrick of England in 2008. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

With no clear path to regular status with Germany, Jones made clear his interest in representing the United States under head coach Bob Bradley. After a summer of speculation, FIFA cleared Jones in October 2009.

He made his American debut after the 2010 World Cup, and picked up his first 12 caps under Bradley until the disappointing 2011 Gold Cup final loss to Mexico that led to the hiring of Jurgen Klinsmann as U.S. Soccer’s head coach and technical director.

Klinsmann’s era began with serious on-the-field problems, as he won just one of six games. An injured Jones saw action in just two of those matches – a 1-1 draw with Mexico and a 1-0 loss to France – but both men saw their USMNT fortunes rise in Jan. 2012.

Jones was handed the captain’s armband for a start against Venezuela, a 1-0 win that kicked off a four-match win streak for the Yanks. Jones played 90 minutes in three of those four matches, and went on to play every minute of the 2014 World Cup as a trusted ally of the coach, famously being counseled by the boss following Clint Dempsey’s go-ahead goal against Portugal (below right).

(AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
(AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Their relationship is one that extends off-the-field, and Jones says it’s not about hailing from Germany.

“It’s that we respect each other,” Jones said. “We can talk about all stuff. Our daughters are friends. It’s a real relationship. It’s a coach and a player, but he knows how to treat me. If I am down, he might have to go hard at me. Sometimes I get crazy and scream at him, but he knows to take it. ‘Hey Jermaine is crazy, but I need him on the field. He’s the one keeps my guys together.’ The relationship I can honestly say it’s amazing. As long as he’s the coach of the national team, I will always be behind him. And if he wasn’t, it would still be good.

“He can close his eyes and I know I will do my best. Jurgen knows that. He knows that if I come to the national team, and I get on the field in an important game, I’m there. Copa America, World Cup, I show up for the important games. Sometimes I have friendly games where it’s not that important, but he has my back and knows if he needs me, I will be there.”

Jones won’t be talked into chatter about the World Cup in Russia. He wants to keep going, but is eyeing September’s World Cup qualifiers against Trinidad and Tobago, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

“You cannot lose the games, or instantly out of the next World Cup. So I don’t have my head on anything else. We have to beat both. We show up when we have to show up. I have the trust in my boys and me. We will make it to the next round of qualification and then make it so we go to the World Cup.”

In 2013-14, Jones played for three teams. Schalke finished third in the Bundesliga, Besiktas third in the Turkish Super Lig, and New England ran to the MLS Cup Final.

Oh, and his memorable goal against Portugal was part of the USMNT’s thrilling escape from the World Cup’s Group of Death.

Such is the life of Jones, a player ready to give his all on the field but more than willing to eschew club norms when it comes to contracts.

Yet Jermaine Jones is, in a sense, a winner of the highest order. Before he hit the pitch in New England, the club had lost nine of 12 matches, a run which included an eight-game losing streak.

He subbed onto BMO Field Aug. 30, 2014 against Toronto in a 3-0 win, the first match of a 8-1-1 finish to the regular season that propelled the Revolution past Columbus and the Red Bulls before falling to the Galaxy in extra time of the MLS Cup Final.

New England had a 8W-4L-6D record with Jones on the field the following season, which isn’t as dramatic until you consider the Revs went 3-6 when Jones went down with a groin injury, even falling to third-tier USL side Charlotte in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 29: Jermaine Jones #13 of New England Revolution celebrates with Charlie Davies after they won the MLS Eastern Conference Championship as the the New York Red Bulls leave the field at Gillette Stadium on November 29, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jones and Charlie Davies in 2014 (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

After an unceremonious loss in the playoffs that saw Jones suspended six games for bumping referee Mark Geiger, the midfielder moved onto Colorado. The Rapids had the third-worst record in 2014, and the second-worst mark in 2015, so there was work to be done.

Colorado’s now in second out West, and has not lost a match with Jones on the pitch (Six wins and two draws).

So, yeah, he wins.

“I hate to lose and people know that. If I step on the field, it’s only one thing, it’s winning. I do what I have to do to do that.

“Sometimes people don’t understand you have maybe 15 or 16, maybe 20 years of career. You can go through your career and say, ‘Ok, you win, you lose, you have fun, you play for money’. But I was always the one who said I’m so thankful that I get the chance to be one of the kids who get to get out of bed and be a soccer player.

“I played for Germany who is a big soccer country. And I played for America. To get that chance to represent two countries where you were born or are from, is unbelievable. To get the chance to play week-to-week on the field where people come and look up to you. You can change so much in people’s eyes. They believe, and you see somebody who has that (team) pride to them. You give them more back. You don’t have to be the guy with amazing quality like Cristiano or Messi.”

As dynamite and heart-warming as all of that is, a man’s still gotta get paid. And Jones knew that leaving Besiktas for MLS, as a World Cup hero nonetheless, was going to be a boon for commissioner Don Garber.

“The first time I came to America, this is what I told Don Garber when I talked,” Jones says, firing words at a mile-a-minute. “If I come to the league, this is the deal. For the numbers I’ve made in my career, for an American international player, there’s not a lot of players who can sit next to me.

“It’s no problem for me. I’ll come and I’ll bring quality on the field. They had eight-straight losses. I said I will come, we will change a team and we will go to the final. You can ask them, I told them when I signed the contract, and I did it!”

Jones says he purposely only signed a short-term contract, saying New England would see his value and they’d go from there. When the Revolution balked at his demands, he wanted to move closer to his family on the West Coast.

No hard feelings. Hello, Mile High City.

“I told my agent what I wanted,” Jones said. “I try to show people on the field and then they will treat me with that respect. If they don’t treat me like that, then that’s fine, then I do what I did with New England. I shake hands and say, ‘Thank you for the time, but it’s time to go and I will go’. That’s how I work.”

But why Colorado? There was interest across MLS, never mind across the Atlantic, but also concerns with the six-game suspension Jones accepted for the physical altercation with Geiger. And Colorado technical director Paul Bravo admitted Jones wasn’t their top target when free agency opened ahead of this season.

What tipped the scales, though, was head coach Pablo Mastroeni, a man whose playing style would fit just fine in a conversation about Jones, who gives the coach full marks for the Rapids’ turnaround.

“I would say big credit to Pablo,” Jones said. “The passion from Pablo, this guy lives for the sport. He lives the sport like 24 hours. When we play, I think he runs more on the outside line than some players do on the field. You see a guy who has that passion. In 2010 he was a player who wins the Cup, who gets that kind of respect.”

Jones wanted to restore the standing of Colorado as a club, but also as a difficult place to play. He hadn’t played on the road against the Rapids, though he had played in the building in the famous “Snow Fro” World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica, but he watched his Revs beat Colorado there 2-0 in 2015.

“I want to make a dream happen that people look to Colorado and say, ‘Two or three years ago, it’s not that team anymore, man. You’re going to there, you have to fight for it. Colorado, it’s tough. Yeah there’s Seattle, L.A., maybe Dallas, Portland. No. Now people say Colorado’s taking a spot. That is what I want to see. We are in second position, two games behind Dallas, on the West Side, from my opinion the stronger side than the East.

Jones says he’s calmed down from the constant red card threat he was earlier in his career, but he’s not going to give an inch down the stretch.

“That’s what I do. I always try to be a nice guy, but of course you see me on the field, like with (Geiger), that’s the passion in me. I hate to lose. My game is running and fighting for every centimeter on the field, to win a game. Maybe I make a mistake, but still I try to protect my team.”

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 21: Soccer player Jermaine Jones (C), wife Sarah Jones and family attend the Petit Maison Chic fashion show honoring Operation Smile on November 21, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Petit Maison Chic)
Jones, wife Sarah, and family in 2015 (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Petit Maison Chic)

The competitive drive isn’t going anywhere, whether Jones plays until he’s 50 or rides into the sunset before the next World Cup.

He loves his role as a family man, ever-present for his children the way his father couldn’t be for him.

Which isn’t to say life is going to be easy for the Jones’ kids, especially in the backyard.

“When my kids are around, I play always to win,” he said, deadpan.

“If they see me out on the field and say, “Papa, can we play a game?” I don’t let them win. My boys can be 7, my daughter can be 3. I play a game, like a kid’s game, they have to beat me. I don’t care. My wife can say she’ll throw me out the house if I don’t let them win.

“I’ll say, ‘No I don’t have to, because no one will let them win outside’. They have to beat people to take the next step and move forward. No one’s going to come up to you and I say, ‘I like you, I’ll let you win.’ That’s not the world.”

And it’s certainly not his world either. You don’t have to like Jermaine Jones, but odds are he’s going to win.

Pulisic says Klinsmann links to England made sense

Hamburg's Gotoku Sakai, left, and Dortmund's Christian Pulisic challenge for the ball during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and Hamburger SV in Dortmund, Germany, Sunday, April 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
AP Photo/Martin Meissner

England has its new head coach locked into a deal but one American believes the rumors surrounding his current national team manager made perfect sense.

Sam Allardyce officially took over the Three Lions on Friday but rising U.S. Men’s National Team attacker Christian Pulisic told Goal that he wouldn’t have been surprised if Jurgen Klinsmann made the jump to England.

“They’ve seen how much he’s turned our country around and of course England would like to do the same,” Pulisic told Goal.

Klinsmann’s success during his playing days was undoubted, and all of it was even headlined by the 1990 World Cup title. While his track record as a coach has raised skepticism, the German is said to be highly regarded throughout Europe for his job as a manager.

During his time in charge with Germany, Klinsmann helped guide his homeland to third place in the 2016 World Cup. Since taking over the USMNT, the 51-year-old has helped push young players in the right direction and challenged the best to rise to the occasion on the world’s biggest stages.

“We have a lot of great young players in the U.S., our coach is doing a really good job and I think we’re improving every year and I think other people are starting to see that,” Pulisic said.

Players like DeAndre Yedlin and Matt Miazga have credited Klinsmann with moves to the Premier League as they look to jumpstart their professional careers in England’s top flight. Klinsmann has brought Bundesliga talents such as John Brooks and Fabian Johnson into the national team picture as well.

Last month, Klinsmann brought the U.S. to fourth place at the Copa America Centenario, a feat that shouldn’t go unnoticed given the strong field of competition.

Ian Rush talks Liverpool hopes, Klopp, US tour, Wales, praises Klinsmann

Getty Images
1 Comment

Liverpool legend Ian Rush is incredibly excited about what lies ahead for Liverpool.

Not only on their tour of the U.S. this summer but beyond it as the Reds aim to get back into the Premier League’s top four during the 2016-17 season.

[ MORE: Full PL preseason schedule ]

Rush, 54, is the all-time leading goalscorer for Liverpool and the Welsh national team, winning two European Cups, five league titles and three FA Cups during his distinguished career at Anfield. He is now a Global Ambassador for the club as well as being the Elite Performance Director for the Welsh Football Trust.

In an exclusive chat with ProSoccerTalk via phone ahead of their preseason trip to the USA, Rush spoke to us about Liverpool’s targets for the upcoming season, Jurgen Klopp‘s progress, his thoughts on the growth of the game in the USA, being part of Wales’ incredible success at EURO 2016 and also spoke highly of current U.S. national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Read the full transcript of our discussion below as Liverpool prepare to face Chelsea at the Pasadena Rose Bowl on Wednesday Jul. 27 and AC Milan in Santa Clara on Jul. 30 in the International Champions Cup before heading to St. Louis to play AS Roma in a friendly on Aug. 1.

How have previous U.S. tours been with Liverpool?
It is the third time I’ve been now on the U.S. tour and the first time we went, we didn’t know what to expect. For me it was amazing. I didn’t realize how many Liverpool supporters there were in the USA. It is absolutely amazing and we are looking forward to it.

There seems to be a huge Liverpool fanbase in the USA, great experience to be around?
Without doubt, not just the players but for the supporters and everything about it. It is a big test for the players because they are playing quality teams. I think it is a great tournament and something that sets the standard as well.

What do you put soccer’s growth in popularity down to in the USA?
First of all I think you put that down to 1994 when they had the World Cup in America, that was a big thing. But I think when Jurgen Klinsmann took the U.S. in the World Cup, he did really well and I think they had a really good World Cup in 2014. When you have a good World Cup, just like in Wales when we had a good Euros, everyone wants to grow up and play soccer. It is amazing what it does, when a country does well in a football tournament. I think that is the reason why.

Liverpool have U.S. owners and obviously the club has close links with the USA. How important is this tour for them?
It is very important, we have an outreach worldwide, not just in Europe. We go to Asia, America and in Asia we all know they’re football crazy but when you go to America, there are so many sports there that you don’t really know what to expect. For me, the last time we went there it was amazing to see how many American people came to watch. That put a new light on it. Soccer in America is getting bigger and bigger all the time.

BOSTON, MA - JULY 25: Francesco Totti #10 of AS Roma takes a free kick against Liverpool during a pre-season tour friendly match on July 25, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

What is the message the club will look to spread to fans in the USA?
At Liverpool we see ourselves as a family club. At home there are only 54,000 that can come there but there are millions and millions who want to watch Liverpool, so what we have to do is take Liverpool to other parts of the world. Our message is that we don’t come in and get out. As a club we see ourselves as a family club and we want to leave a lasting legacy. We don’t want to go there and leave, we want to put something down there and maybe go back again two years later. That’s how you create a family club and Liverpool has always been a family club.

With Chelsea, AC Milan and Roma coming up, will these be good tests to see where team is at right now?
They are massive tests. As a player the most important thing is that once you get your preseason in you, you are ready for the season then. There’s no good playing easy teams and winning 5-0 or 6-0 but also you don’t want to play really difficult teams right from the start so you will have to try and build yourself up. When you look at the Chelsea game, it is a big test for Chelsea as well. They have a new manager, they don’t know what to expect. With AC Milan and Roma, you always know what you’re going to get, it is always going to be a difficult game. From Chelsea and Liverpool’s point of view it is going to be a big test for us.

Speaking as a player, how important is it to get a good preseason in you?
If you don’t do you preseason you are always playing catch up after. With Jurgen Klopp, if you look when he first took over Liverpool, there were maybe three or four injuries early on because what he demands of a team is to give 100 percent work rate. You look at his teams in the past, they are always teams which give 100 percent. But now he has got the team from the start so once he gets this preseason in, hopefully there won’t be as many injuries, they will know what to expect and I think that will set the standard for the season.

The players having a full preseason under Jurgen Klopp, will that make a big difference?
100 percent. They all know what to expect now. The players who were with him last season, they all know what to expect. Maybe you will get teams that train twice a day but with Jurgen Klopp you will train maybe three times a day. That is the pressure he puts on and those are the demands. If you look at his teams with Dortmund in the past, he plays a high-pressing game. If you don’t give him 100 percent, you will not be playing for Jurgen Klopp. The demands are so high and that is the expectation so far.

Philippe Coutinho

So far, what have you made of Liverpool and the results in preseason?
The results have been fantastic but when you look at it, even the players on the fringe, what you have to do as a player is give the manager a problem. These players that have been playing have to give the manager a problem. Instead of the manager saying ‘this is my automatic starting XI’ he should be saying here’s 20 players… and then the manager has a problem. I think these young players that have come in, they’ve done that so far. It has been fantastic for the fringe players. When the first team players come back then Liverpool will say ‘hold up, we’ve been winning. We’ve got a problem here.’ There is competition for places and that is what Jurgen Klopp has done well so far.

Any players who have stood out in preseason? Danny Ings impressing after his recovery?
There are three or four I could mention but I don’t want to mention them because I don’t want to put the pressure on the players. Let them build their way in. Danny Ings, for me is a breath of fresh air. Hopefully he will be like a new signing. What I like about him is he plays off the shoulder of defenders. He is like an old fashioned center forward. He doesn’t go deep and he wants to get around the back of them and that causes defenders problems. It is really nice to see him get among the goals. For me, let’s see what he can do. He is experienced. He knows the Premier League and hopefully he will be like a new signing for Liverpool.

What about Liverpool’s Premier League hopes. Seems so open this season, so what is the target? Top four? Domestic trophy?
Top four. Simple as that. You are looking to make the Champions League next year. A trophy would be a bonus but because we are not in Europe now, it gives us a little bit more time to concentrate on the domestic trophies but also the league. The most important thing now is to get back in the Champions League. That is a realistic target. Chelsea have a new manager. Manchester United have a new manager. Manchester City have a new manager. Leicester won the league last year… I think we all have to look at Leicester and see what they achieved last year. Personally I think Liverpool have better individuals than Leicester, so if Leicester can do it, why not Liverpool? That’s what we are looking at, to get back in that top four. I would love them to win a trophy and because now we aren’t in Europe we have time to concentrate on the league and one of the trophies as well. That is the target.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 07: Ian Rush of Liverpool FC Legends celebrates after the match between Liverpool FC Legends and the Australian Legends at ANZ Stadium on January 7, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images)
(Photo by Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images)

This summer Wales excelled at EURO 2016, was is special to witness that in France as a proud Welshman?
It was absolutely amazing. I was out there for three-and-a-half weeks with Wales when they were out there. It just goes to show if Leicester could do it, Wales could do it, it is all about team spirit. If you look at it, England had better individuals than Wales. Wales got to the semifinals, England didn’t. That comes down to the team spirit, the manager, the coaching staff. I look at it similar to Liverpool. It is all about the fanbase and the team spirit. Liverpool have that. Wales have that 100 percent. It was absolutely amazing. It was the first time in 58 years that Wales were in a major tournament and they went over there, the fans responded and the players responded to that. It was an amazing occasion and we want to go on to better things now. We want to qualify for the World Cup. It is like Liverpool. We don’t want to get in and get out. Once you get in there, you want to stay there. Hopefully that is what we want to do for Wales. I am the Elite Performance Director of the Welsh FA. We put in the program eight years ago and it is bearing its fruits now, so it is amazing to see that. As a Welshman I was so proud to see them get to the semifinals.

Can the USA follow the same model as the likes of Wales and Iceland who did so well this summer?
100 percent. There are so many more people in America aren’t there? If you look at Wales and if they can do it, why can’t the USA do it? College soccer has been massive but to break through and to get it ready you need the grass roots in it. I know America has been doing it and I speak to Jurgen Klinsmann quite a lot. It has been bearing its fruit for about 15 years now and once you get the first team to do well, you need to kick on. I am sure the USA could kick on as well.

What are the best memories you have of the USA?
When you got to Disney Land, I went with my kids and it amazing and all that and I’ve been to LA, that was great. Funny enough, in 1994 I went to the World Cup with Nike and we were based in San Francisco and it was great to go and see that part of the world for me. I am looking forward to it. 1994 was the last time I was in San Francisco, going to Alcatraz and things like that, it is going to be amazing to see the difference this time around.

You’ve spoken highly of Jurgen Klinsmann, what do you think about the job he’s done with the U.S. national team?
I think he has done an amazing job. As a German, they want everything to be perfect and for me when you talk about England manager, if they had to be English that’s fair enough but Jurgen Klinsmann would definitely be high up on my list because he knows everything about the technical side. He has been a player, a world class player I played against in Italy and he came to play in England and he knows about all the leagues. Not just the USA. He knows about the German, the Italian… For me, him and Arsene Wenger are perfect examples to be the next England manager.

CARDIFF, WALES - SEPTEMBER 06: Former Wales striker Ian Rush watches the action during the UEFA EURO 2016 group B qualifying match between Wales and Israel at Cardiff City Stadium on September 6, 2015 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Report: While Allardyce remains the favorite for England, Klinsmann still in the mix

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 21:  Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann of the United States looks on prior to a 2016 Copa America Centenario Semifinal match against Argentina at NRG Stadium on June 21, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Earlier today it was revealed by Sunderland that Sam Allardyce has been approached by the FA for the vacant England managerial position, and while they still hope he stays, the club has given permission for him to be officially interviewed and courted.

That much we know.

Something that remains fuzzy, however, is who is positioned behind Big Sam should the FA decide against offering him the job, or should Sunderland make him an offer he can’t leave.

USMNT head coach and technical director Jurgen Klinsmann’s name had been floated around soon after Hodgson’s departure, but nothing serious truly materialized on that front, and as it seemed to be more speculation than anything, the noise faded. Now, according to a report John Cross of the Mirror, Klinsmann is indeed being seriously considered.

Noted in the report is that no official approach to US Soccer has been made, which would be the true mark of interest. However, it does state the United States is willing to let Klinsmann walk should he wish to accept any potential offer.

The article speculates that Allardyce has the advantage mainly because his reign would see very few changes in terms of staff, youth development, and other managerial business; whereas Klinsmann has built a reputation for overhauling systems. As Cross puts it, Klinsmann’s approach would likely clash because “[the FA does] not believe the current system is broken after watching 10 straight wins in the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. They want a manager who will embrace the St George’s Park ethos, offer a pathway to domestic coaches and also work within their plan. They also like the fact Allardyce has a strong tactical vision.”

Another candidate reportedly in the mix is Hull City’s Steve Bruce, after the 55-year-old led the Tigers back to the Premier League via the playoff just one season after relegation. Other names listed in the article include former PSG manager Laurent Blanc and current Inter boss Roberto Mancini.

If this is indeed the FA’s view, it’s unclear why they’d even consider Klinsmann in the first place, since it seems completely out of line from what they’re looking for. Allardyce is a known quantity, Klinsmann much less so. It seems before the FA figures who they want in charge, they must figure out what it is they want – it’s hard to hire an employee before the job description is written.

Close friend, former colleague “thinks Klinsmann is in discussions with England”

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 21:  Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann of the United States reacts after the first half of a 2016 Copa America Centenario Semifinal match against Argentina at NRG Stadium on June 21, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Jurgen Klinsmann is maybe … perhaps … but also maybe not … in negotiations with the English Football Association over England’s vacant head coaching job.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage

It’s all very cryptic and full of hearsay at the moment, as Klinsmann’s close friend and former colleague from his time as manager of the German national team, Oliver Bierhoff, has done his part to keep the Klinsmann-to-England rumor alive and well this Friday evening. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire? (Quotes from the Guardian):

“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 Jurgen Klinsmann — who I think is in discussions with England — we have also given the national team a certain pride, atmosphere and organization. The success of the story is the high quality but also the good organization and good atmosphere we have in the group.”

One of two things is going on here: 1) Klinsmann has serious interest in the England job, which of course he does — whether or not he would jump ship from the USMNT for it is another story; or, 2) with just two years left on his current U.S. Soccer contract, Klinsmann loves coaching the USMNT very much, and the American lifestyle it affords him, and he’s angling for another four-year extension, this time two full years ahead of the World Cup.

You’d like to believe he’s not brash enough for the latter, and/or that Sunil Gulati would never grant such a request, but December 2013 definitely happened.

[ MORE: USMNT could open next round of qualifying against Mexico ]

Here’s the thing about Klinsmann’s viability as the next England boss: if there were gripes of Roy Hodgson’s shortcomings while manning the post, hiring Klinsmann would only be a continuation of Hodgson’s complete lack of tactical nous, as well as the lack of consistency of lineups selected that dogged the Three Lions for the entirety of Hodgson’s tenure.

Of course Klinsmann deserves his share of credit for ushering in the next generation of German talent last decade, as Bierhoff points out, but the situation England presently finds itself in is far from similar: Hodgson took one of, if not the, youngest teams to EURO 2016 without a single clue of how to set them up. If anyone is of the belief the American media has been harsh on Klinsmann, just wait until you read the English press on a daily basis.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Hyndman “honored” to sign for Bournemouth ]

As for the USMNT, now seems the last acceptable time for Klinsmann to jump town. With the 2018 World Cup just 23 months away, and qualification into and through the hex still to secure, that’s just enough time for a new coach to come in, take stock of the player pool, identify “his guys,” and attempt to implement a tactical system and style of play.