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Last Updated: Monday, 20 March 2006, 10:58 GMT
Klinsmann under pressure
By Dan Warren

Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann
Klinsmann may face a hostile reception when Germany play USA
Less than three months remain until the start of the World Cup in Germany - and the host nation is worried.

When coach Jurgen Klinsmann took over in July 2004, he spoke of his hopes of winning football's biggest tournament on home soil.

But, just when he should be preparing to fulfil the dreams of an excited nation, he faces the possibility of a public backlash when Germany take on the USA in Dortmund on 22 March.

The former Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and Tottenham striker desperately needs a good performance and result from his team, which is woefully short on confidence following a 4-1 drubbing by Italy at the start of March.

Paul Chapman, a journalist who has covered German football for 30 years, told BBC Sport: "If it goes wrong against the USA, the whole country will be up in arms.

"People are still ready to give him a chance, up to and including this match against the USA.

"He has still got credit. He was a very popular player, he always played with a smile on his face, he was good for an interview and I think he's still got some credit left over.

"But time is running out."

With so little time to go until the tournament, it is unlikely the German FA (DFB) will get rid of Klinsmann. But he has some serious problems on and off the field.

GERMANY'S RECENT FORM
1 March v Italy (away)
LOST 4-1
12 November v France (away)
DREW 0-0
12 October v China (home)
WON 1-0
8 October v Turkey (away)
LOST 2-1
7 September v S Africa (home)
WON 4-2
3 September v Slovakia (away)
LOST 2-1
17 August v Holland (away)
DREW 2-2
Germany performed well in last summer's Confederations Cup, finishing third out of the eight teams.

But the feel-good factor which followed is a distant memory after a string of lacklustre performances.

There are murmurings of discontent over his decision to remain based in California while coaching the national team.

Klinsmann insists he will return to Germany for the two months leading up to the World Cup. But that may not reverse the damage caused by his decision to be based overseas for so long.

That is not his only worry. He is also embroiled in a player selection row which is threatening to further damage his relationship with the fans.

Klinsmann told Borussia Dortmund's Christian Worns he would not play in the World Cup after the 33-year-old centre-half voiced his disapproval at being left out of the squad for the Italy match.

The coach's policy of favouring youth backfired as his inexperienced backline - in which no-one was over 24 - was torn apart by the Azzuri.

Worns, meanwhile, responded by putting in a man-of-the-match display in Dortmund's next game against Mainz.

He was cheered to the rafters by the home fans who sang anti-Klinsmann songs and displayed banners reading "Klinsmann out".

The performance and the result must be right, or it's going to be a very gloomy situation in German football
German football expert Paul Chapman

As luck would have it for Klinsmann, the USA match takes place at Dortmund's home, the Westfalenstadion.

Chapman says the DFB is so worried about the reception Klinsmann may receive from the Dortmund public, they have implemented a plan to improve relations.

"First, they are opening a training session, so fans can come along, meet players and even talk to Klinsmann," he said.

"In the squad is another Borussia Dortmund player, Sebastian Kehl. Kehl has been playing well - but I'm sure if this game was in Munich or Berlin, he would not have been picked."

In addition, Chapman says the DFB will monitor fans' placards and posters to make sure anti-Klinsmann banners are kept to a minimum.

But if Germany lose to the USA, it may prove difficult to placate a public which is undeniably losing faith.

He was a welcome appointment when he replaced Rudi Voeller after the Germans' disastrous Euro 2004 campaign.

His decision to clear out the old guard in favour of youth was applauded - but there is a fear that he has gone too far and that his team is too inexperienced.

"Two years ago, the consensus was that Germany would win the World Cup," said Chapman.

"Now I think a lot people would be happy for Germany to get as far as the semi-finals.

"Having followed German football for 30 years, I think this is a terrible team. I don't think they're going to do well at all. I think the quarter-finals would be an achievement."

In a recent poll of 1,000 Germans by the Forsa institute for the Stern weekly, just 3% said Germany would win the World Cup.

But, outside of Dortmund, support for Klinsmann remains good with 66% of poll respondents saying he should stay even if the USA beat Germany.

But, Chapman says, the mood could quickly change.

"I can't stress enough how much hangs on the USA match," he said.

"The performance has to be right, the result has to be right or it's going to be a very gloomy situation in German football."




SEE ALSO
Pressure mounts on boss Klinsmann
12 Mar 06 |  World Cup 2006
Klinsmann is unmoved by criticism
07 Mar 06 |  World Cup 2006
Klinsmann targets glory
29 Jul 04 |  Internationals


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