Diving in at the deep end

ENGLAND’S SVEN-Goran Eriksson has not been the only national manager under intense pressure during the run-up to the World Cup finals. Hosts Germany have pinned their hopes on Jurgen Klinsmann, best remembered for his two successful spells at Tottenham Hotspur as a player, after predecessor Rudi Voller’s failure at Euro 2004 in Portugal.

Carrying the expectations of a nation spoilt by success on his shoulders was never going to be easy for a man who only took on the job after half-a-dozen better-qualified candidates had refused to put their reputation on the line. The 41-year-old World Cup winner (1990) inherited a team largely made up of players well past their prime, and has faced the daunting task of rebuilding the team virtually from scratch over the past 18 months. Much like his Swedish England colleague, Klinsmann has put out largely experimental sides during a string of friendlies, the results of which have not always been to the public’s liking. Further criticism has come his way for maintaining his residence in the United States, commuting back to his homeland on a weekly basis. Germany would dearly love to see its team succeed on home soil, but have a remarkable lack of faith in its manager, a fact not lost on Klinsmann.

“Even if we win the World Cup, my future with the German FA is unclear”, the modest and likeable former striker says. In the end, actions on the pitch will speak louder than words, but one can’t help but get the impression that Klinsmann can’t wait for a return to the anonymity of private life, regardless of how his team fares next summer.