Klinsmann's Success with the USA Shows Folly of 'Staying Native' for England

Nick MillerFeatured ColumnistJuly 2, 2014

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01: (L-R) Goalkeeper coach Chris Woods, assistant coach Tab Ramos and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann of the United States look on during the National Anthem prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

The USA's remarkable run in the World Cup is over, but they can leave with their heads held high after a terrific performance of guts and determination against Belgium.

Tim Howard was heroic, DaMarcus Beasley looked like anything but a converted winger playing in defence, Omar Gonzalez was a colossus, while substitute DeAndre Yedlin might still be running, a day after the game finished.

The most notable thing, though, was their organisation. This is a USA team whose collective individual abilities should not have qualified from a World Cup group that featured Germany, Portugal and Ghana, but whose manager has managed to make them more than the sum of their parts.

Jurgen Klinsmann has lived in California with his American wife for some years, even spending much of his time in his adopted homeland when he managed the German national team, so it's clear that he has an affinity with the country he manages.

His post-match comments underlined his passion for his job, as per the BBC:

I'm very proud of our team...We will continue to grow and grow. We are looking for all Americans around the world, no matter what background they have. It's all part of globalisation.

We have to learn more and more, we are in that process. I don't know how many years that will take but we have to take it to the opponent. Even if it is against very talented teams you have to play your game.

Obviously, though, he is still managing a foreign nation, making the insistence of other countries to appoint a native head coach look at best limiting, at worst foolish.

Jon Super/Associated Press

One of the unspoken criteria when the FA were replacing Fabio Capello was that he should be English, and the prevailing attitude still seems to be that the England manager should come from the same green and pleasant land, as most recently stated by Henry Winter in the Daily Telegraph.

And in truth, it is a little odd that the same rules that apply to player eligibility do not apply to the manager, but as the rules stand at present, a national team manager can come from anywhere, so why be so limiting?

It is not a question of passion or commitment, as can be seen by Klinsmann's touchline antics or indeed by the fact that Capello missed his own son's wedding to manage England in a friendly match, as per the BBC.

Equally, Costa Rica have surprised everyone in this World Cup with some exciting attacking play and some fine organisation, and the man doing that organising is their Colombian manager Jorge Luis Pinto.

Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press

It is about getting the best man for the job, the best man to make the most of what resources he has available, something that England are not currently doing under Roy Hodgson, and haven't for some years.

While the taboo about England having a foreign manager has been broken somewhat by Sven Goran Eriksson and Capello's appointments, there still seems to be a misguided sense of pride about the job. Recruiting a foreigner is seen as a sign of weakness, an admission that there isn't enough good native coaching talent available.

It is still rooted in the idea that England are a dominant football nation, which is patently not the case. It should be accepted that if there isn't a suitable Englishman for the job (and, if Hodgson should go tomorrow, that particular cupboard does look pretty bare), then there is nothing wrong with looking abroad.

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

It's true that no "foreign" manager has ever won the World Cup, but that might change in this tournament, if Argentinean Jose Pekerman can maximise the extraordinary talent available to him with Colombia. Additionally, Greece won Euro 2004 with German Otto Rehhagel at the helm.

Hodgson has proved that having a native manager is not always the right answer, and while appointing a foreigner just for the sake of it is equally misguided, Klinsmann has shown that the most important thing is getting the right man to make the most of what is available, rather than limiting yourself needlessly.