For all of his New Age-y proselytizing about fitness and diet, Jurgen Klinsmann also has some very strong opinions on the path American players take during their relatively short professional careers. Klinsy’s opinion seems to be that Americans don’t push themselves enough, that they are simply too content to “make it” as a pro, or to become a starter somewhere, or to feature in a top league, even at a relatively small club. Those opinions made a strong appearance in an interview the USMNT coach did with the Wall Street Journal. In it, he singles out Clint Dempsey as a player who “hasn’t made shi*t.”
My whole talk to Clint Dempsey for 18 months was [about how] he hasn’t made s—. You play for Fulham? Yeah, so? Show me you play for a Champions League team, and then you start on a Champions League team and that you may end up winning the Champions League. There is always another level. If you one day reach the highest level then you’ve got to confirm it, every year. Xavi, Iniesta, Messi. Confirm it to me. Show me that every year you deserve to play for Real Madrid, for Bayern Munich, for Manchester United. Show it to me.
It’s tough to know if Klinsmann is being unduly harsh to one of his best players, of if he’s simply using Dempsey (because he’s one of best American players) as an example of someone who should be pushing himself. The use of a curse word is strange, but Klinsmann has a tendency towards American colloquialisms while trying to get his point across.
Klinsmann takes further “shots” at Donovan, at the level of US success to this point, and at various aspects of the American attitude. Most of the criticisms are fare, and even fall in line with his general themes of the past year and half. Some might see an escalation in tone. If you looking for one, you’ll probably find it.
The bit about Donovan is interesting because he possesses exactly the type of attitude Klinsmann is railing against in this discussion of Dempsey’s time at Fulham.
Read the whole interview at the Wall Street Journal