Saturday, July 30, 2011

Klinsmann's Raw Deal: Coaching in Shadow of a Legend Like Bradley

Jurgen Klinsmann faces this!
Jurgen Klinsmann ain't no Bob Bradley. He's younger, has slightly more hair and has won more World Cups albeit by the narrowest of margins, 1-nil.

Now Klinsmann is further burdened by having to coach Bradley's boys. Y'know, the team he molded into Gold Cup and Confederations Cup finalists. The boys he shaped that "won" their group at the 2010 World Cup and gave Ghana all it had before extra time was just too much for the boys in red white and blue. So much for Klinsmann to bear.

How will he top Bullet Bob's tenacity on the sidelines? How can he beat the way Bradley deftly moved players around the pitch like a Russian chess master? How, by all that's holy, will Klinsmann figure out how to shape the U.S. fullbacks or in heaven's name put the right forwards up top in big games. No one put players in the lineup who hadn't played serious game minutes in months like ol' Bob Bradley did. We're gonna miss that.

No what Klinsmann has to do is follow that legacy left by Bradley. He'll need to look confused, uninspired and dumbfounded at the worst possible moments. He'll need to shoehorn in Ricardo Clark whenever possible into the U.S. lineup. He'll need to put Gooch Onyewu front and center on defense even though big ol' Gooch hasn't played first-division soccer since high school. He'll need to play veterans for today, and screw tomorrow's team. He'll need to make every game a mentally anguishing adventure; y'know, fall behind 1-0, 2-0 in the first 30 minutes and then come roaring back to tie Guatemala, Honduras or, y'know, Algeria.

Following a legend is always the kiss of death for a coach or a pro athlete. Imagine being the focal point of the Chicago Bulls the year after Michael Jordan retired. Or following Bill Parcells or Bill Walsh after winning all those Super Bowls. Jurgen Klinsmann has been dealt a raw hand and I feel badly for him. Not only is he going to coach in Bob Bradley's shadow until at least the 2014 World Cup, but he has fewer than two weeks to get ready for his first live action, Aug. 10 against Mexico in Philadelphia. Poor bastard, his first game is a Gold Cup finals rematch against the dominant team in the region. Well, looking on the bright side, at least it's not in LA.

1 comment:

Start a Blog said...

Really nice post.. thanks for sharing.