Jurgen Klinsmann Had Nothing to Lose by Keeping Silent About England
Sam Allardyce may have the job, but it may as well have resealed Jurgen Klinsmann's USMNT contract.
Anybody who has worked in the private sector knows the kind of sway another job offer can hold over your current employers. In most fields, nobody really knows what anybody is actually worth. Who is good and who is bad at his or her job tends to be a nebulous and subjective measurement. But when somebody else wants to hire you, then your market value is determined.
And so it's hardly surprising that when the England manager job opened up and the United States men's national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann—also the U.S. Soccer technical director—was bandied about as a possibility, he didn't refute the buzz. The English remain infatuated with the charming German, a remnant of his triumphant playing days with Tottenham Hotspur. They even considered him a favorite for a while.
In the past, Klinsmann has quickly and vociferously rebutted chatter about his interest in other jobs. This time, he didn't. Not even as Sam Allardyce displaced him as the favorite and ultimately got the gig—while the Football Association apparently never even sought permission from U.S. Soccer to interview Klinsmann, presumably meaning he actually wasn't a serious candidate.
Klinsmann let the rumors swirl on, though. Because this summer, for the first time in his five years in charge, the seat he almost never sits in during games had gotten hot. Absent a strong or at least promising performance in the Copa America Centenario, the Klinsmann Era may have ended long before whatever end game the man with the big ideas—and shaky track record with the U.S.—had envisioned. A semi-final appearance in Copa was enough for him to hold onto the job, anyway.
But recall the last time there was talk of Klinsmann's serious candidacy for another job, when Switzerland apparently came knocking. Klinsmann quickly signed a contract extension. That was in late 2013, and the U.S. had just come off a rollicking summer, swaggering to World Cup qualification and an off-year Gold Cup title by reeling off a record dozen consecutive wins. The federation was happy with him then. So, as most would, he presumably leveraged the interest into locking down a new and improved deal—reportedly taking his salary from $2.5 million annually to $3 million.
This time, with patience for his long-running USMNT project wearing as thin as the results it has yielded, he was seemingly happy to let the suggestions that U.S. Soccer might lose him fester. It's questionable whether or not he was ever going to uproot from his beloved adopted home in Southern California and join an English federation that expected its manager to buy into the philosophy and course it had already set out—Klinsmann likes to build things from the ground up. But he stood to gain nothing from publicly ruling out the possibility.
On Friday, Allardyce was finally confirmed as England manager, all but ensuring that Klinsmann will remain the U.S. manager through the 2018 World Cup—barring a qualifying disaster. Seemingly, there are few other positions out there that might tempt him. The question that remains unanswered is what impact all of this might have had on his relationship with U.S. Soccer and his benefactor there. President Sunil Gulati, who led his recruitment, was a staunch supporter until he openly demanded wins in the Copa.
Because when Allardyce's appointment was finally confirmed, Klinsmann once again stayed quiet. And his silence spoke the loudest.