Tuesday, August 21, 2007

No Jurgen! Not the Man for Tottenham Hotspur

Jurgen Klinsmann as Spurs boss?

Jurgen Klinsmann is one of the names being put forward to replace Martin Jol at White Hart Lane but the club has already been down that road. Ossie Ardiles and Glenn Hoddle, former star players returned to the club as manager but with little success.

White Hart Lane is NOT the place for Jurgen Klinsmann. Spurs have tried that before and with disastrous results. They've brought in former players to manage the club to please the fans and it hasn't worked. Indeed, it all ended in tears.

Alan Sugar brought Ossie Ardiles from West Bromwich Albion in the aftermath of his fall-out with Terry Venables. He knew that he had to find someone whom the fans would accept and Ardiles fitted the bill. Ardiles' first season was a disaster with the club only avoiding relegation with a game to spare.

The following summer was a great time for Spurs as Ardiles signed Jurgen Klinsmann, Ilie Dumitrescu and Gica Popescu and the season started with a flourish of exciting, attacking football. However, as autumn turned to winter, the attacking flair envisaged by Ardiles couldn't outscore the deficiencies of the defence, so club and manager parted company after 18 months. Ardiles as a player was a hero to all Spurs supporters, but as a manager he failed in the Premiership.

Move forward six years and the club’s new owners are looking to impress the supporters and get them on their side. They remove the unpopular George Graham and replace him with every Spurs fans' favourite - Glenn Hoddle. An encouraging start is followed by twelve months of misery before the Board admit their mistake and remove Hoddle - it simply hasn't worked.

Everyone at Tottenham Hotspur wanted Hoddle to succeed as manager but he failed to take the club forward. Similarly to Ardiles, he had little more than 18 months as manager. Both Ardiles and Hoddle were worshipped by the supporters and such was their standing as players that the fans still remember them favourably, overlooking their management shortcomings.

Klinsmann falls into the same category. He was a great favourite as a player, although he was only at White Hart Lane for a short time in comparison to either Ardiles or Hoddle. But he could so easily fall short as a manager. His reputation in management is high following his handling of the German team in the World Cup. However, he has no experience as a manager or coach at club level which demands day on day involvement with the players and officials. Would Klinsmann give the long-term commitment needed for such a position?

Klinsmann seems to enjoy the American lifestyle of California - would he be tempted to return to the grey skies of Tottenham? It would appear to be unlikely and a tremendous gamble to put all your faith in someone untried at this level.
In the World Cup, Klinsmann was working with the best players Germany had available to him. Would he have the patience and temperament to work with lesser players? Would he have the desire to cope with all the demands of the players on a daily basis? His man-management skills would be sorely tested.

Klinsmann achieved a great deal with Germany and was rightly praised for his innovation and the style with which his country played throughout the tournament. However, that was for a short period. Would he be able to continually motivate players through a long season and would his natural enthusiasm extend to a wet November night at Grimsby for a Cup game?

As a player, Klinsmann enjoyed new challenges - he played in different countries and then moved on in search of something new. As coach to the German team he has shown the same ideology, resigning at the end of the tournament and looking for a fresh challenge. As manager or coach of a club side, there has to be that longer-term commitment and it’s uncertain whether Klinsmann would be prepared to make it.

His reputation at White Hart Lane is based on 18 months as a player. As a manager, he mightn't even last that long. In the short-term, it would be a tremendous coup to recruit Jurgen as manager/coach. The move would be surrounded with fantastic media hype but it is uncertain that he would be a long-term solution to the club's managerial problems.

Many international managers complain that they they miss the day-to-day involvement with the players that is part of club management. Klinsmann, on the other hand, seems ideally suited to that international management role as it allows him greater freedom to be involved in other projects. Spurs’ supporters wouldn't want to see Klinsmann come to Tottenham and suffer as both Ardiles and Hoddle did before him. Spurs supporters want to remember him as the player he was and not as a manager who has failed to achieve what he and the fans have been hoping for.


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