Jurgen Klinsmann is not afraid of being fired.
[ MORE: Klinsmann to be fired? ]
Following the U.S. national team’s 2-1 defeat to Mexico and 4-0 hammering away at Costa Rica during their two opening games in the final round of 2018 World Cup qualifying, Klinsmann has been under heavy pressure from fans, the media and everyone else in-between.
Many have been calling for him to be fired by U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati and although Klinsmann admitted that he must take some of the blame he was bullish about his future.
[ MORE: Klinsmann claims “overreaction” ]
In an interview with the New York Times, Klinsmann claims he isn’t scared of the upcoming meeting with Gulati. The duo have been sharing text messages during Klinsmann’s trip overseas to attend a state dinner in Germany with Angela Merkel and President Obama, and Klinsmann will meet with the head of the USSF in the coming days.
“I’m not afraid,” Klinsmann said. “What you need to do is stick to the facts. Soccer is emotional, and a lot of people make conclusions without knowing anything about the inside of the team or the sport. I still believe we will get the points we need to qualify, and I am even confident we could win the group… The fact is, we lost two games. There is a lot of talk from people who don’t understand soccer or the team.”
So, what are the main issues with the USMNT?
Klinsmann pointed to many reasons why they have started the Hexagonal off poorly, many of which have been mentioned numerous times before. As well as saying that he’s team didn’t give up in the closing stages of the defeat at Costa Rica, he believes the U.S. is a team in transition.
“We are coaching a team through a transitional phase,” Klinsmann said. “We still have to break in younger players. We still have to look for leadership for the team. There are still a lot of technical and chemistry challenges ahead that are normal in this time period. And you put the final pieces together as you go towards Russia, which I am absolutely sure we will do.”
Another interesting note is that Klinsmann revealed what he has been telling Gulati behind the scenes.
“I always made it clear to Sunil, if you really want to move up to the top 15 in the world, you need to have consistency in what you’re doing,” Klinsmann said. “If you react emotionally, you will become a roller coaster.”
So, in a nutshell, he’s saying: ‘You’d be crazy to fire me.’ Thus far, Gulati has listened.
In the past 12-18 months the lows have been rolling in thick and fast for Klinsmann, though. A fourth-placed finished at the 2015 Gold Cup was followed by defeat to Guatemala in the fourth round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying and then came a damaging defeat to Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup playoff which ended their chances of making the 2017 Confederations Cup.
Throw in the two recent defeats (the second of which came against Costa Rica in embarrassing fashion as players seemed to ‘down tools’ in the second half) and the calls for Klinsmann to be fired are understandably getting louder.
He isn’t afraid, probably because he knows Gulati has put his entire legacy as USSF president in his hands. That said, Klinsmann is running out of chances and knows the USMNT’s two upcoming World Cup qualifiers in March are must wins.