Monday, 22nd April 2024

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Chung Mong-gyu and other arguments, who is the truth

Former Korean national soccer team coach Jurgen Klinsmann (60) has made headlines by revealing a behind-the-scenes story in which he will take charge of the Korean national team. Klinsmann said, “I became the coach of the Korean national team after hearing a joke.” This is different from what Chung Mong-gyu (62), president of the Korea Football Association, claimed. Chung once said that he appointed Klinsmann in accordance with the procedures when Klinsmann was dismissed.

According to Spiegel, a German weekly magazine, last month, Klinsmann said in an interview that it was a “accidental coincidence” that he would take the helm of Korea. Klinsmann and Chung have known each other since the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup, and the two met again in Qatar 2022. At the time, Korean soccer lost in the match against Brazil in the round of 16 strongest teams in the Qatar World Cup. Former coach Paulo Bento also expressed his intention to resign, and needed a new coach. Klinsmann jokingly asked if he was looking for a coach, and Chung accepted the request. Later, Chung contacted Klinsmann, and negotiations proceeded.

If Klinsmann’s statement is true, it is somewhat different from what Chairman Chung said, “I appointed a coach according to the normal procedure.” At the announcement of Klinsmann’s replacement on the 16th, Chairman Chung said, “There are many misunderstandings in the process of appointing a coach.” This denies rumors that Chairman Chung played a decisive role in the appointment of Klinsmann.

“There seem to be many misunderstandings in the process of appointing Klinsmann,” Chung said. “In fact, the same process was applied to coach Bento’s team. When Klinsmann was appointed, the number of candidates was narrowed down from 61 to 23, and Michael Mueller, chairman of the Korea Strengthening Committee, selected five leading candidates. Interviews were exchanged on the five leading candidates, and interviews were conducted on the first and second candidates. Since then, Klinsmann has been selected.” However, Klinsmann revealed a completely different behind-the-scenes story.

Of course, Klinsmann could have gotten a good score as Chung said, but it is highly unlikely that Klinsmann did so at a time when his coach career was cut off. Klinsmann had not been in charge of a new team for about three years since leaving Hertha Berlin (Germany) in 2020. Instead, he worked as a soccer commentator. He also had many failures in his coach career. In 2008, he assumed the “strongest German club” Bayern Munich, but was sacked after less than a year. Despite having great members, he failed to win the league title. After becoming Hertha Berlin, she quit the team in three months.

Consequently, Klinsmann was appointed as the coach of the Korean national team in February last year, reversing everyone’s expectations. However, this failed attempt. Klinsmann was sacked in less than a year. The Korea Football Association announced on Wednesday that Klinsmann would be dismissed. “Klinsmann failed to demonstrate leadership and leadership in terms of competitiveness, game management, player management, and work attitude that could lead to national team capabilities. We decided to replace the head coach as we judged that Klinsmann’s ability and attitude did not meet the public’s expectations and that improvement would be difficult in the future,” Chung said as a presenter.

As a result, Klinsmann became the fastest coach to be dismissed since Korean football introduced the full-time coaching system in 1992. Klinsmann’s performance over the past year was eight wins, six draws and three losses.

Above all, the failure of the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Qatar Asian Cup played a decisive role in replacing Klinsmann. Korea sought the top spot in Asia for the first time in 64 years after winning the championship in 1960, but failed to make it to the semifinals at the Qatar World Cup. Notably, the team is considered to be the strongest ever as it has players who play in European big leagues, including Captain Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain), Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich), and Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton). However, the team failed to pass the semifinal.

In addition to his disappointing performance at the Asian Cup, Klinsmann also suffered from poor performance throughout the tournament. In the group stage, he ranked second (one win and two draws) in the group, with a shocking 3-3 draw with Malaysia, ranking 130th. Since then, in the match against Saudi Arabia in the round of 16 and Australia in the quarterfinals, overseas players such as Cho Kyu-sung (Mitwillan) and Son Heung-min scored a decisive role and dramatic goal just before the end of the match, which gave them tough wins. At that time, it was pointed out that Klinsmann produced similar formations in every match and played “harmful soccer” based on dependence on only key overseas players. Amid such criticism, his players were tired of two extra-base struggles, but he put forward another similar tactic in the match against Jordan in the semifinals. In the end, Korea lost 0-2.

Jordan, who met in the semifinals, is a team that had already been dealt with once in the group stage. However, Korea suffered humiliating defeat without sending a single shot on goal. As such, the team lacked preparation for the match.

When Korea was eliminated, CBS Sports in the U.S. directly criticized Klinsmann’s strategy, saying, “Jordan had an impressive performance against Korea. However, it was also a result that showed the weakness of the defeated Korea. Despite having a 70 percent ball possession rate and outstanding players such as Son Heung-min and Lee Kang-in, Korea failed to score an effective shot.” “Klinsmann is being criticized by Korean fans for his tactical absence. Many people would think that Korea’s golden generation wasted their chance to win the trophy.”

“Coach Klinsmann is under severe pressure as he humiliatingly lost to Jordan in the semifinal match of the 2023 Qatar Asian Cup,” said the Gulf Times, a Qatar media outlet. Korea was completely defeated by Jordan, which is 64 notches below the FIFA rankings, 0-2. “Although Son Heung-min was present, he failed to score a shot on target,” he said. “Korean soccer fans and Korean media criticized the loss to Jordan as just the latest example of mysterious tactics and lineup.” Above all, Klinsmann was once again criticized for smiling despite his team’s loss.

Klinsmann was under fire not only for lack of tactics. After the semifinal loss, Klinsmann smiled and congratulated the opposing team’s coaches and players, sparking public criticism. At the same time and at the same place, Son Heung-min was down on the ground, while veteran Kim Jin-soo (Jeonbuk Hyundai) even shed tears. Klinsmann looked different alone. In September last year, Klinsmann received fierce criticism for asking the rival team’s Aaron Ramsey to exchange jerseys even though he had a small match with Wales in an exhibition match.

After the Asian Cup, Klinsmann said on the 7th, “I don’t know why the public opinion got worse. I wanted to win the championship,” adding, “Before I met Jordan, I brought results and showed a good performance. The semifinals of the Asian Cup are not a failure. I think positively.”

Klinsmann could not avoid criticism regarding the physical conflict between Son Heung-min and Lee Kang-in, also called the “table tennis gate.” As a star player-turned-manager, he was considered competent in managing the team, but even this failed.

Previously, Klinsmann received complaints by attending various events around the world rather than checking K-League players in Korea, ignoring his promised status as a resident. After finishing the Asian Cup, he immediately left for the U.S. for a vacation. Klinsmann also attended a meeting of the Korea Football Association’s national power reinforcement committee on the 15th via video.

Shortly after his dismissal, Klinsmann posted on social media, “I sincerely thank all the players, coaching staff, and all the Korean fans. We have been able to continue an amazing journey without losing any of the past 13 games. Thank you to everyone who supported us to advance to the semi-finals of the 2023 Qatar Asian Cup. Way to go!” he said in a short message.

Klinsmann’s contract runs until the 2026 North-Central American World Cup. However, he has to pay a hefty penalty for being dismissed in one year. Reportedly, Klinsmann’s replacement will incur nearly 10 billion won in penalties. Regarding the penalty, Chung said, “If there is any financial burden, I will consider what I can contribute financially as the president of the Korea Football Association.”

Chairman Chung also said, “We haven’t discussed anything yet,” adding, “We will form a new power reinforcement committee and appoint a national team coach as soon as possible.”


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