FEATURE-So far so good for Germany's Klinsmann
12:59 AM GMT
By Erik Kirschbaum
Calif, Jan 24 (Reuters) - It is
a long way from northern Europe's frozen soccer
pitches to southern California's surfer-filled
beaches but Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann stays
tuned to his homeland from half a world away.
Commuting 40,000 km each month, Klinsmann has
revitalized Germany since taking over the faltering
team six months ago and has turned the great
distance between his United States home and German
job to his advantage.
Capitalising on technology advances, Klinsmann
has no trouble reaching players, assistants and club
trainers by e-mail or cell phone. He tracks German
media reports on internet websites and watches
Bundesliga matches on television.
"At the end of the day the only thing that
matters is the quality of the work you deliver,"
Klinsmann said in an interview with Reuters in his
adopted hometown of Huntington Beach, south of Los
Angeles. "I see only advantages to this set-up."
A little jet lag, red eyes that come with rising
before dawn to have more time on Europe's schedule,
and high phone bills are negligible drawbacks
compared to the welcome side effect that nine time
zones and 9,000 km provide a barrier to Germany's
"The world has changed with modern communications
so it doesn't matter where you are physically," said
Klinsmann who flies back to Germany at least twice a
"Wherever in the world I am, I can stay hooked up
to Germany. What difference does it make if I phone
a player from California or Frankfurt'"
Klinsmann -- whose rejuvenated team have
impressed with five wins, a draw and a loss since he
took over in August -- has silenced most domestic
sceptics of his long-distance commuting.
A few die-hard critics such as Schalke 04
commercial manager Rudi Assauer still argue he
should be in Germany all the time, observing players
and talking in person with Bundesliga coaches.
"I have no problem with that criticism and
respect those who have differing views," Klinsmann
said. "But at the end of the day I have to decide
what's best. And in my view this set-up benefits the
Klinsmann, 40, admits it was a move into
uncharted waters for three-times World Cup winners
Germany, even though other coaches including
Greece's Otto Rehhagel and Cameroon's former trainer
Winnie Schaefer commuted long distances from
Germany. Japan coach Zico flies to and from his
"There are a number of other trainers who've been
doing this successfully before me so the model isn't
exactly something new," Klinsmann said. "What
ultimately matters is the quality of the work, or in
other words: results."
In between sips of a latte macchiato at a cafe,
the former Germany striker conceded he had been
prepared to rethink the long-distance commute if it
turned out it was causing problems.
"The plan was to examine whether it was working
well or working at all," he said after taking a
quick phone call from team manager Oliver Bierhof.
"It was my hope that it would work out as well as
it has in these six months. It's an advantage to
keep a bit of distance. It's helping me keep a clear
view of the bigger international picture."
Klinsmann has also avoided the treacherous
embraces and menacing scrutiny of Germany's
demanding media, which viciously turned on
predecessor Rudi Voeller just two years after
idolising him for leading the team to the 2002 World
"It's important that you not allow yourself to be
eaten up in the daily media coverage," he said,
savouring January's bright California sunshine and
temperatures of 27 degrees Celsius.
"You need to keep a buffer zone. I don't think a
national trainer should make comments on everyday
developments in the Bundesliga.
"Naturally I follow what's going on but I don't
want to interfere and the distance to Germany makes
it easier to filter what's important from what's not
Rising at 5:30 every morning, Klinsmann switches
on his computer in his home office. Sometimes when
he feels cramped there he takes his laptop to work
on it at a local cafe.
He holds conference calls with assistants in
Germany every other day and spends 11-hour flights
tapping away on his laptop.
Klinsmann, who as a player won the 1990 World Cup
and the 1996 European championship with Germany,
cherishes his anonymous lifestyle in California, his
home for six years, and says it is better for his
"It's quite pleasant," said Klinsmann, who also
played for Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Monaco and
Tottenham Hotspur. He stays fit by training with a
local amateur soccer team.
Whether Klinsmann, who believes Germany can win a
fourth World Cup in 2006, will stay beyond the
tournament Germany is hosting remains an open
question to everyone -- including himself.
"I'm not dependent on long-term job security," he
said. "We'll sit down after the World Cup and
analyse what's worked and what hasn't. Hopefully
we'll have had success. Then we've got time to
decide what's next.
"If we don't succeed, the issue will resolve
itself. But I really do sense it's going to go well