The next manager of South Korea is… Jurgen Klinsmann

The KFA confirmed just now that the next manager is indeed going to be Klinsmann. Rumors about JK have been swirling for the past week alongside the other (apparent) forerunner Robert Moreno, but the decision has now been finalized. The arrangement is that JK will bring in 4 coaches and the KFA will introduce 2 Korean coaches similar to what we had with Bento. One of those Korean coaches will almost certainly be Cha Du Ri.

Over the past two months many names have come and gone in the media regarding the KNT job. At one point Vladimir Petković and Son’s old boss Thorsten Fink was entertained. About a week ago there was a report that Rafa Benitez had turned down the KFA offer. Well before Rafa’s name was involved we heard that Tite turned it down as well. Now these two cases I wasn’t too surprised by as we probably can’t attract that level of talent. Last week, news broke that Herve Renard was not going to renew his Saudi Arabia contract – now here was a decent manager who had just proved himself on the world stage – someone exciting, someone realistic. Maybe a bit too volatile for us, but still someone who appears to be on par with PB and would prob love to coach world class dudes like Son Heung Min or Kim Min Jae. It seemed like things were looking up for us. At least if not Herve Renard we could get Moreno, I thought. Then Klinsmann started popping up in Korean media over the past 4 days, and I was thinking… surely the KFA learned from our mistakes with Uli Stielike and would listen to the players? Nope. In typical fashion the KFA pulls the most KFA move possible.

Let’s review Klinsmann’s track record thus far. His most recent stint at Hertha prompted articles like this:

“Jurgen Klinsmann is a grifter. This should be well-known by now. He once made a World Cup semifinal thanks to the meticulous planning of assistant Jogi Löw and the heroic efforts of Michael Ballack, and he’s been stealing paychecks because of it ever since. Klinsmann has been heavily criticized for his poor management of Bayern Munich and the United States Men’s National Team, and on Monday, he quit his job at Hertha Berlin after less than three months in charge… As a first team head coach, he is a scam artist of the highest order. It took Hertha’s board 76 days too long, but they figured out they were being scammed before it was too late. After this ordeal, it seems unlikely that another team of Hertha’s stature will fall for Klinsmann’s grift anytime soon.”

What exactly happened at Hertha anyway? Despite spending 77 mil (a lot of money for Bundesliga standards) in one transfer window, he left in 2.5 months in a surprisingly unprofessional way. He posted on Facebook that he was resigning, then explained later on FB Live that he couldn’t work with the Hertha board and sporting director. There were also reports that he caused major discord within the squad, dropping senior established players and having a weird rating system where he would take every player and decide if they should have their contract renewed or sold. Player selection for him was apparently controversial with the USMNT as well, where he clearly favored the German-American players over everyone else.

In a Facebook Live Q&A with fans, Klinsmann said that he doesn’t like the model of German football in general. Contrary to the existing system in which decision making is divided up among several roles and is often collaborative, Klinsmann prefers a system in which the manager has final say on all big decisions. He simply wasn’t willing to work under Preetz.

Knowing the KFA, he WILL butt heads with our directors too. Paulo Bento did, Shin Tae Yong did, as did Hong Myung Bo and Stielike before them.

Everywhere he went it sounds like players were left disgruntled. Philip Lahm wrote in his autobiography that Klinsmann never once had ANY tactical discussions with the team at Bayern, so the players had to come together on their own to discuss strategy.

We practically only practiced fitness under Klinsmann. There was very little technical instruction and the players had to get together independently before the game to discuss how we wanted to play. All the players knew after about eight weeks that it was not going to work out with Klinsmann. The remainder of that campaign was nothing but limiting the damage.

This makes sense – Klinsmann has stated before that tactics have developed to the point where they can’t progress much further, so the most important aspect of modern football is physical fitness and strength. He even appointed an NFL (yes you read that right – American football coach) as a physical coach during his time with Germany and the USMNT. Speaking of which, I remember being somewhat impressed with the USMNT’s run in 2014, but it seems there were lots of issues behind the scenes. USMNT veteran Carlos Bocanegra wrote in 2013:

— Klinsmann and chief assistant Martin Vasquez either lack the tactical acumen and game-day chops to successfully lead the team or fail to communicate their wishes effectively.

— Too much time and too many resources are spent on initiatives that don’t translate to the field.

— Constant lineup changes and building resentment over the perceived importance and attitude of the German-born players are harming team chemistry.

The MLS commissioner wasn’t happy with Klinsmann either, especially for his consistent pattern of alienating MLS players and speaking negatively of the MLS. He famously shut out Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Landon Donovan the moment they came back to the MLS from Europe, publicly stating that their performance will decline due to playing for a lower league.

Jurgen’s comments are very, very detrimental to our league. They are detrimental to the sport of soccer in America. I think his comments send the wrong message to young players in the United States… I think it’s going to send the wrong message to players we are trying to sign from overseas

MLS Commissioner Don Garber

“During his time at the club, Klinsmann had “no footballing idea,” Steffen Rohr writes in Kicker. “The noise has increased, but the quality of play has not.””

sbnation regarding Klinsmann’s time at Hertha

All of this sounds JUST like a certain crappy German manager we had recently doesn’t it?

Paulo Bento on the other hand stuck to his guns and had a philosophy. He had his flaws but he had something important Stielike and seemingly JK does not. Our players loved him for it and stuck by all of his decisions. They VOCALLY protested to the media that we NEED our new manager to be like Bento – someone who has ideas and a system. Lee Jae Sung, Hwang In Beom, Kim Min Jae, Son Heung Min, and probably more that I can’t remember this late at night all came forward to ask the KFA to get it right for once. A lot of KNT fans wanted Paulo to stay and so did pretty much the entire Korea squad. Will any players come forward to voice discontent? We will find out…

At a time when we need someone to get the most out of Son, integrate Lee Kang In, and identify a replacement for Jung Woo Young senior… this happens to us.

Props to Tavern writer Tim Lee – he previewed JK back in 2018 and came to pretty much the same conclusions as this post. Whereas I did not know about any of this until after I included Klinsmann in my next manager post December and everyone pointed out that I was out of the loop on this one. “Inevitably disappointing” – I am so sad I was right on that.

Obviously I hope JK proves us wrong but with a consistent pattern of players calling him out, it seems unlikely. It’s funny how Michael Muller specifically said he wouldn’t be biased towards German managers. He put forward a generic list of characteristics that the KFA is looking for but fans will certainly question if Klinsmann meets even those. This is almost certainly going to evolve into another Uli Stielike situation and I bet the Korean media will have a field day with this. I have no doubt that my fellow Koreans and KNT fans feel the same way as I do: in the end, this is just too typical of the KFA. One step forward, 10 steps backward. This is our reality. I guess some things never change.

About Jinseok 260 Articles
Diehard Korean football fan.


  1. Predicting he will maximize his sawdust in the gas tank just long enough leading up to 2025 and then leaving or getting fired as the team burns in a dumpster fire. Also predicting that at least one or two Korean players will uncharacteristically will publicly show discontent. I’m gutted. If I wasn’t ethnically Korean I would renounce my fandom for the team.

  2. If this blows up in our faces, we have nobody to blame but ourselves. There’s a pattern with this guy, and any competent person can see it. I obviously hope he proves everyone wrong, but wow… with Stielike at least it was unexpected. What the hell is the KFA thinking??

  3. Lol all that anticipation and hope for nothing. I was a fool for trusting they would likely appoint someone good. It was taking longer than I expected so I thought they were really trying to get us someone good.

    Klinsmann had that whole thing with Landon Donovan (one of my favorite players). Yes, it was nice seeing the USA escape a group with Germany (who won in 2014), Portugal and Ghana (whom the USA lost to in 2006 and 2010). And Tim Howard with all those saves against Belgium in the Round of 16. They exceeded a lot of people’s expectations that tournament. BUT…

    He got criticized post World Cup (and before the 2014 World Cup). USA had a poor qualifying campaign and even though he was sacked before it was over, the USA didn’t qualify.

    Now I’m not too concerned about us qualifying since we are expanding to 48 teams now (I would be if we were still at 32). But I think this is just a disaster waiting to happen. If he focuses on our Bundesliga based players (which we don’t have that many of currently) then what about the others? Our K League and J League players? Anyone not in the Bundesliga?

    This could be just like the whole post 2010 World Cup cycle all over again. We had a good tournament and then we had all sorts of issues with managers like Ki being upset with Choi Kang Hee, etc.

    Of course if Klinsmann exceeds our expectations that’s another story. But if the past few years have been an indication of anything, that will likely not happen.

  4. I think and hope you’re wrong about Klinsmann. He did well with what was supposed to be an awful Germany team in 2006. If he knew Löw was a great coach and was smart enough to listen to him, that’s good management. I also think he did well with the US. He tried to work with the entire US setup, not just the senior team, but the problems were more to do with the administration than Klinsmann, as I remember. Benitez would have been great but dull. For a team whose best players, except Kim Min Jae, are attackers, I’m excited to see what an expansive approach under Klinsmann would look like.

  5. The Korea Times writes “ At a press conference discussing the process, Muller said Klinsmann was the first of the five final candidates that he approached, and negotiations went so well that the KFA didn’t have to consider the other candidates.”

    Am I misreading this or does this mean that the KFA didn’t go through the vetting process with the other candidates?

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Stielike: Foot -> Mouth (or was it?) | Tavern of the Taeguk Warriors
  2. KNT in Crisis: Korea 1-1 El Salvador, U24 0-1 Loss vs China | Tavern of the Taeguk Warriors

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