07 December 2006

No Jurgen for US

Klinsmann withdraws candidacy as U.S. Coach

I pretty sure I'm in the minority here, but this doesn't bother me. Don't get me wrong, Klinsmann wouldn't have been a bad option, but I don't think he would have been the best either. Something just didn't seem right; absolutely everything seemed to fall into place for him with the German side at the World Cup.

I think his man-management and his ability to bring the German team and the country together for the World Cup were qualities far more important than his tactical nous. I don't want to play down the changes he made to the national team, updating the training methods and bringing more youth players along, but neither is a major problem for the U.S. team. I also think that much of Germany's success had to do with the fact that they were the home team, as seems to happen every World Cup. Klinsmann has stellar playing credentials but the fact remains, the German job is his sole coaching experience. I can't help but think he's been overrated by success in one tournament (albeit the biggest tournament in the game).

The US manager needs two main qualities as far as I'm concerned. One, familiarity with the MLS, as for the foreseeable future a lot of players, specifically young players, will come from the national league. Two, international experience. Playing, managing, whatever. The manager needs to be familiar with styles abroad, specifically European teams, because I think that's the major competition. Klinsi seemingly has both qualities, being based in California and considering his playing career. I just cannot get it out my head he's been plumped up far too much.

Who do I think should be national team coach? Stevie Nicol.

I know, I know, I will get a lot of stick for this, thinking I've gone for him solely based on Liverpool connections. Believe me, that's nowhere near the sole reason, but it certainly doesn't hurt; I find it hard to believe it would hinder a manager to have played under Paisley, Fagan, and Dalglish.

My main sticking point is that we know he knows the MLS. A former MLS Coach of the Year, and he's taken the New England Revolution to the MLS Cup finals the past two seasons. But it's not as if he's unfamiliar with the European game. He played for both Scotland and for League and European Cup-winning Liverpool sides, and played recently enough to have seen the Prem. He's got the familiarity with both the US and European games needed in the next manager.

I know Klinsi has a lot of the qualities that I see in Nicol, but Nicol's experience with MLS and the youth set-up, plus his additional coaching experience, even if it isn't on the international level, wins out for me. I don't like all "big names," like Jose Pekerman, Bruno Metsu, or Gerard Houllier (not going there) that have been tossed out, simply because I don't know if they're familiar enough with the players over here. And on the flip side, does Bob Bradley, who looks to be named interim manager, have enough international experience?

Plus, you just don't argue with a international-class Scottish defender. Doesn't happen. Another of my favorite qualities in a gaffer, striking fear into both the opposition and his own players.

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