Coach respected across the pond

- Martin Rogers USA TODAY Sports FOLLOW REPORTER MARTIN ROGERS @mrogersUSA­T for sports commentary and breaking news.

The job of England national soccer team head coach is serious business. It has been described as second in importance to the position of prime minister.

As it happens, both are essentiall­y vacant right now after two seismic events that rocked England — the team’s exit from the European Championsh­ip after a shocking defeat to Iceland on Monday and the United Kingdom’s impending departure from the European Union after the Brexit vote.

Amid the chaos and acrimony that led to Roy Hodgson on the sports side and David Cameron on the political front both quitting, Jurgen Klinsmann found himself thrust into the spotlight Wednesday.

Klinsmann, the U.S. head coach, is highly regarded in England as a result of his successful playing stint with Tottenham Hotspur in the mid-1990s.

His spell in charge of the U.S. team, while not as spectacula­r as many American fans would have hoped, has neverthele­ss been good enough to insert his name into the mix of candidates being discussed as Hodgson’s successor.

“Klinsmann’s my pick to take over,” former England defender Jamie Carragher, who won a Champions League title with Liverpool, wrote in the Daily Mail. “(He) has been to a World Cup semifinal with Germany, a Copa America semifinal with the USA and knows our game.”

Leading sports channel Sky Sports News devoted significan­t time to Klinsmann on Wednesday, as the 51-year-old became the most-discussed candidate, along with Gareth Southgate.

Southgate, the coach of England’s under-21 team, is seen as a potential interim option before a long-term replacemen­t is found.

“Klinsmann was the name that everyone is talking about, and we responded to that,” Aidan Magee, a senior correspond­ent for Sky Sports News, told USA TODAY Sports. “There is no doubt he would be a popular choice. People respect him from his time in England, admire what he did with Germany and have been impressed with his efforts in the USA.”

If this is all a bit bemusing to those loyal to the U.S. program — after all, Klinsmann likely would have been fired had he failed to progress from the group stage of the Copa America this month — consider this: By getting out of the so-called Group of Death in the 2014 World Cup, Klinsmann’s team far outstrippe­d England, which failed to register a victory and ended up at the bottom of its group.

This summer’s continenta­l adventure in Europe was uninspirin­g, too, as England’s Euro campaign was cut short by Iceland’s tenacious triumph, while Klinsmann’s U.S. squad bounced back from a shaky start in the Copa America to land a semifinal spot.

Even the English bookies have latched on, with oddsmaker Ladbrokes shortening Klinsmann to a 41⁄ 2- 1 second favorite and reporting that the German was the most-backed candidate with gamblers.

However, Klinsmann was briefly the odds-on favorite to take over at English Premier League Southampto­n last week, despite no apparent interest from the club.

So would Klinsmann take the England job if an offer fell into his lap? Despite the dismal performanc­e of the England players and their generally uninspired behavior this summer, the national team position is still considered one of the most cherished jobs in world soccer.

Hodgson was the highest-paid coach in the Euro tournament with a salary of nearly $5 million. The English Football Associatio­n likely would be prepared to go even higher. Klinsmann made $3.2 million with the USA in 2014, including a World Cup bonus, and is on a base salary of about $2.5 million until his deal is up in 2018.

Yet Klinsmann has long called California home, and his contract situation would be tricky to extract from, with U.S. Soccer surely not keen on finding a replacemen­t with the World Cup two years away.

Even so, that might not stop the increasing public support for Klinsmann in England. London’s

Independen­t newspaper has backed Klinsmann for the job, and he is most certainly back on the English soccer radar as its program looks to rebuild from a bleak European adventure.

 ?? TIM GROOTHUIS, WITTERS SPORT, VIA USA TODAY SPORTS ?? Jurgen Klinsmann has coached the U.S. men’s soccer team since 2011, and his contract runs through the 2018 World Cup.
TIM GROOTHUIS, WITTERS SPORT, VIA USA TODAY SPORTS Jurgen Klinsmann has coached the U.S. men’s soccer team since 2011, and his contract runs through the 2018 World Cup.
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