Nick Bidwell’s Notes from Germany: Jurgen Klinsmann Leaves Hertha Berlin

Well, that was short and not-so sweet. Just 76 days after becoming Hertha Berlin’s interim coach – scheduled to hold the reins until the end of the season – Jurgen Klinsmann already is a past tense figure, walking away in a huff.

The phrase ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ sums up this messy episode perfectly. One moment, Klinsi was in trademark empire-building mode, describing the potential at the Olympiastadion as “gigantic” and waxing lyrical about the challenge of turning this rather moribund capital city club into a “sexy European force”.

Ten weeks later, the former Germany and USA boss was gone in a puff of smoke. No more grandiose plans or  sweet-smelling PR buzzwords. All of a sudden disenchantment had taken hold, with Klinsmann citing a lack of support behind the scenes.

“Especially in a relegation struggle, the most important elements are unity, sticking together and concentrating on the basic,” wrote Klinsmann in an explanatory Facebook posting. “If they are not guaranteed, I cannot exploit my potential as a coach.”

The full story, however, was much more nuanced and complex. In truth, Klinsmann overplayed his hand, once again falling prey to his visceral inclination to see leadership as a perpetual power play, to always look to radically shake things up.

Klinsmann aspired to be the main man at Hertha both on and off the field of play. He essentially wanted to be an old school English-style manager, an autocrat who does what he likes and likes what he says. Basically this is not possible in the German game, where a director of sport (in charge of player recruitment as well the entire football department) usually wields more authority than the head coach.

With Klinsmann looking to have complete control over transfers, it was inevitable that Hertha director of sport Michael Preetz would forcibly push back. Neither Preetz or the Hertha board had any intention of extending Klinsmann’s sphere of influence. Hence the break-up.

Klinsmann, initially brought into the Hertha camp as a member of the club’s supervisory board, had hoped to revert to that role, but unsurprisingly was promptly informed that his services no longer were required. Lars Windhorst, the German businessman who has been pumping inordinate amounts of money into the club, will have to look elsewhere for a high-profile front man for his ambitions.

“The way he quit is so unacceptable from our point of view,” declared Windhorst. “Klinsmann has lost a lot of his credibility here.”  Most in Germany would agree.

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What We Learned this Week

1. No tears for City.

Borussia Monchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl is backing UEFA all the way following the decision to hand Manchester City a two-season ban from European competition for serious financial fair-play breaches.” I think it’s super that even in the case of the biggest teams, the rules are enforced, ” said Eberl on Sky Deutschland. ” There are rules and those who break them should be brought to account. It’s a drastic punishment. This should serve as a precedent. UEFA will not have decided this on a whim. There probably are are two or three other clubs who need to have a think. ”

2. Dest so.

According to a string of leading Dutch newspapers and magazines, Bayern Munich are preparing to put a bid on the table for Ajax’s teenage right-back Sergino Dest. Ajax are thought to want at least 26 million for the highly-impressive Netherlands-born son of a Dutch mother and American father. The 19-year-old recently chose to pledge his international future to the Stars and Stripes. Much to the frustration of Holland coach Ronald Koeman.

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