Hertha Berlin

Getty Images

Unhappy reunion for Klinsmann as Bayern beats Hertha 4-0

Leave a comment

BERLIN — Jurgen Klinsmann endured an unhappy reunion with Bayern Munich as his former protege Thomas Muller started a 4-0 Bundesliga rout of his Hertha Berlin team.

“It was nice to see him again but of course even nicer to win,” Muller said after Sunday’s victory lifted Bayern to second place, four points behind Leipzig.

Klinsmann gave Muller the first of his so far 336 Bundesliga appearances when he brought on the then 18-year-old for the last 10 minutes of a 2-2 draw with Hamburger SV on the opening day of the 2008-09 season. Klinsmann was fired as Bayern coach in April 2009 as its title hopes faded.

But Muller has only fond memories of his mentor, who later went on to be United States coach.

“I have a special relationship with Jurgen Klinsmann. He made me a professional. I still have the mailbox message from when he called me up for the start of training with the professionals,” Muller said. “He gave me my chance to earn my spurs. He put me straight in. He was my first coach.”

Klinsmann was only cleared to face his former club on Saturday after the German soccer federation and league confirmed they received missing documents for his coaching license.

But Klinsmann, who also played for Bayern between 1995-97 and coached Germany at the 2006 World Cup, could only watch as his team was completely outplayed in the second half.

Hertha showed little initiative going forward and finally paid the price for sitting back when Muller rifled in from close range.

“The first goal opened the game,” said Klinsmann, who had been hoping to extend Hertha’s unbeaten run to five games.

The visitors thought they had another goal minutes later, but Robert Lewandowski’s goal was ruled out through VAR for heading the ball out of Rune Jarstein’s hands.

Lewandowski finally got his goal from the penalty spot in the 72nd after Lukas Klunter tugged Leon Goretzka’s arm.

“The turning point was the penalty,” said Klinsmann, who felt it was a harsh decision.

Thiago Alcantara sealed the result three minutes later with a brilliant strike in off the underside of the bar after Goretzka sent him through, and Ivan Perisic headed in Muller’s cross in the 84th.

Bayern had been missing defenders Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez and Javi Martinez through injury, with forward Kingsley Coman also out and midfielder Joshua Kimmich suspended. Canadian teen Alphonso Davies made his 10th consecutive league start.

Santiago Ascacibar started for his Hertha debut after his winter transfer from second-division Stuttgart. The combative Argentine is Hertha’s first signing following financier Lars Windhorst’s investment of $250 million in the club.

Also Sunday, Bayer Leverkusen won 4-1 at bottom side Paderborn to move sixth.

Back coaching in Germany, Klinsmann hunts for paperwork

Getty Images
Leave a comment

BERLIN — Jurgen Klinsmann’s is facing more than his Bundesliga opponents in his return to coaching. He is also facing the German bureaucracy.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Klinsmann needs to show Germany’s soccer federation, known as the DFB, a valid coaching license to remain officially recognized as head coach of his new club Hertha Berlin as he prepares for Sunday’s game against defending champion Bayern Munich.

Klinsmann continued living in the U.S. after being fired as national team coach in 2016 and said he left the paperwork on the wrong side of the Atlantic.

“It’s lying somewhere in my little house in California, in some drawer. We’ll find it again,” he said Wednesday.

“The things that the DFB needs, all the information, I’ve mailed all that over. It’s all being taken care of. It’s not a problem,” he said.

The paperwork issue was first reported by German newspaper Bild.

Klinsmann didn’t expect to be coaching when he returned to soccer with Hertha. Klinsmann had been tapped to join the club’s supervisory board in early November but ended up being offered the coaching role when Ante Covic was fired following a run of poor results.

Since then, Klinsmann has hauled Hertha away from the threat of relegation with two wins and two draws in his five games in charge.

Klinsmann claims he could have taken USMNT to World Cup quarterfinals

Getty Images
1 Comment

Time has a habit of blurring memories. So it’s perhaps within that context that it’s best to judge former U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s comments about the state of the USMNT, and what he said he could accomplish if he hadn’t been fired in 2016.

Now with Hertha Berlin on an interim basis and in Florida for a mid-season training camp, Klinsmann told ESPN that he believed had he been allowed to stay on as USMNT coach, he could have led the side to the quarterfinals, if not the semifinals in the 2018 World Cup. In reality, the USMNT began World Cup qualifying with two demoralizing defeats, leading to his dismissal after a year in which the cracks began showing. The U.S. mostly took care of business at home but couldn’t beat Costa Rica at home, and eventually the loss at Trinidad and Tobago, combined with other results, meant the U.S. missed out on the World Cup.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

“As I said, I’d take that team in Russia to the final eight, maybe even the final four because there was a building block there and there was a plan for it and the plan got interrupted and it got even more interrupted when the U.S. didn’t qualify for Russia,” Klinsmann told ESPN.

It’s hard to know what kind of plan Klinsmann is talking about. Sure, there was a plan to go to the World Cup, but it’s clear the players weren’t executing that plan. Whether because the game-by-game plans were inadequate or the players weren’t good enough, the “plan” wasn’t working. Remember, Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones had to run over to the sidelines in the USMNT’s 2-1 defeat to Mexico because Klinsmann’s tactical plan was so convoluted. Most pundits believe that the first 30 minutes doomed the USMNT to the defeat.

Then, the U.S. went down to Costa Rica and got smashed, 4-0, in which it looked ill-prepared to deal with the heat, crowd, and CONCACAF-style tactics. So maybe Klinsmann would have recovered in 2017 and qualified the U.S. for the World Cup, but it’s certainly possible they could have continued to collapse and be out of the World Cup before the final matchday. That’s how bad it was.

Even if Klinsmann did get the USMNT to the World Cup, would Christian Pulisic have been enough to lead the team to the quarterfinals or further? The squad was in massive need of a refresh, but at the time no one had beaten out the likes of Jozy Altidore, Bradley, Jones, or Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez, among many others. And you can argue the current USMNT players in those positions aren’t playing much better than the ones they replaced.

Perhaps with time, Klinsmann has forgotten some of those harsh moments and remembers the good times. He still talks about how the U.S. emerged from the “Group of Death” at the 2014 World Cup – a good achievement but not one that was impossible – and a couple of good performances at the Gold Cup and Copa America Centenario.

But there’s no doubt that for all of Klinsmann’s positives, he helped put the U.S. on the path to where it is now. The sooner he understands that, the better.

Arteta urges Xhaka to reject transfer to Hertha Berlin

Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mikel Arteta has urged former Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka to reject a proposed move to Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin and remain with the Premier League club beyond the January transfer window.

[ MORE: West Ham brings back David Moyes to replace Manuel Pellegrini ]

Xhaka, who was stripped of the captaincy in the wake of his confrontational response to Arsenal fans booing him back in October, has reportedly already agreed to contract terms with Hertha, but Arteta will be hoping that his last-minute appeal could persuade the 27-year-old Swiss midfielder to stay.

After he was previously frozen out of the team by then-manager Unai Emery, Xhaka has come back into the fold since Arteta’s appointment earlier this month. Asked whether or not Xhaka will leave when the transfer window opens in three days, Arteta had the following to say — quotes from Sky Sports:

“I hope not. He played at Bournemouth and did really well — very committed — and played a really good game.

“After the game, he started to feel ill and temperature. He was not feeling good and has been in bed for two days and that is why not selected.”

According to reports, the two clubs are yet to agree a transfer fee should Xhaka give his seal of approval. Arsenal paid $46 million to sign him in 2016, and they intend to recoup most, if not all, of that fee.

Report: Fee the final obstacle in Granit Xhaka transfer to Hertha Berlin

Granit Xhaka transfer Arsenal
Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Granit Xhaka is ready to join Jurgen Klinsmann at Hertha Berlin, according to his agent.

Now will Arsenal and new boss Mikel Arteta let the captain leave North London?

A report from Sky Sports quotes Xhaka’s agent Jose Noguera in saying that it’s all about the transfer fee.

Arsenal paid Borussia Monchengladbach $46 million for the Swiss midfielder, and wants to get that money back. Hertha signed the largest investment deal in German history earlier this summer and can invest. The Bundesliga outfit may view the fee a bit high for the 27-year-old want-away.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Xhaka has become a scapegoat at Arsenal for some high profile mistakes and a higher profile outburst toward booing supporters, but his value remains significant in Europe. Arteta has also spoken highly of the player and wanted Man City to buy him while an assistant at the Etihad.

Xhaka was close to his best on Boxing Day versus Bournemouth, and Arsenal doesn’t currently have a midfielder with his combination of power and skill. He’s an excellent passer with a rocket shot and a readiness to tackle, but he loses concentration and can lack discipline. Newcastle was linked with loan interest.

Here’s Noguera, via Sky Sports:

“Look, I say it frankly and honestly: we agree with Hertha BSC and would like to go to Berlin. We told Arsenal’s club boss Raul Sanllehi and sports director Edu as well as the new trainer Mikel Arteta. … Arsenal was informed about all the steps, the player and Hertha are clear. It is only about the transfer fee of the clubs.”

Hertha lost its first match under Klinsmann 2-1 to Borussia Dortmund, but has since won twice and drawn twice despite playing four teams from the top eight (The fifth team is Europa League contestant Eintracht Frankfurt).

Xhaka was one of the Bundesliga’s best midfielders, bar none, before he left for Arsenal. If Hertha can agree a fee and Klinsmann can recapture that form — We’ve seen what he did with Xhaka lite in Jermaine Jones — then this is a worthwhile risk.