By Mike Woitalla
He sure is a grump.
That's a sentiment about Bruce Arena I heard from U.S. fans here in Germany, ones who watched on TV in the USA, and members of the press.
And I saw that grumpiness frequently. The scowls, frowns and curses from the sidelines, and the irritability at the press conferences.
Arena can be delightfully witty and refreshingly honest. Obviously, he's an excellent motivator. But his negativity at this tournament became his overbearing trait. Players who glanced toward the sidelines during the Ghana
game saw a countenance of pessimism, not inspiration.
And then we have Juergen Klinsmann, whose frequently smiling face earned him the nickname, "Grinsi-Klinsi." At times, before the World Cup when Germany struggled, the press mocked his ever-present smile.
Now Klinsmann is credited with changing the attitude of a nation. His insistence on remaining a U.S. resident, once criticized, is considered an attribute by many, the source of his "USA-style" optimism and good cheer.
"He has brought something here, this guy from America," editorialized the Abendzeitung's Gunnar Jans. "Germany, once a land of whiners, has thrown off its ballast and complexes, has been infected by a collective euphoria, drunk on happiness."
Klinsmann's aim to transform the German style of play from a patient, calculating buildup game to a swift attacking approach has been a success so far in this tournament. Only Spain has taken more shots than Klinsmann's team.
In their 2-0 round of 16 win over Sweden, the Germans took a shot nearly every three minutes. They have scored 10 goals in four games.
Klinsmann's fate as Germany coach will not be decided until after the tournament.
"Then we will talk about it with a nice cup of coffee," said Klinsmann, 41, after reaching the quarterfinals.
He has made it clear that he has long-term objectives in reforming the German game, from player development to coaching education.
But Klinsmann also says that members of his staff, such as Joachim Lowand Dieter Eilts, are capable of carrying out his mission were he not to re-sign after the World Cup.
Klinsmann earns as much of $2.8 million annually on his current contract, according to SportBild.
Arena has been the most successful coach in U.S. soccer history and there may never be another whose contributions to the American game will compare to the impact Arena made as coach of the national team, D.C. United and the University of Virginia.
But eight years is a very long time to coach a national team. Arena, it seems, is worn out. The Federation may see a need for new blood.
DFB vice president Hans Georg Moldenhauer stated Klinsmann must move to Germany if he continues to coach its national team after the World Cup.
Klinsmann moved to the Southern California with his American wife when he retired from playing in 1998 because he wanted to protect his children from celebrity status. He says he will remain in the USA.
Klinsmann has closely studied the U.S. game, observing Arena during U.S. camps and working with the Los Angeles Galaxy. He has learned Spanish and as a partner of the SoccerSolutions has been involved in the adidas ESP Camp, a player development showcase for America's top teen players.
If he pulls off a successful World Cup -- Klinsmann says anything besides a semifinal appearance would be a "catastrophe" -- the DFB may have to change its position on Klinsmann's residency.
But if it doesn't, an offer from the U.S. Soccer Federation makes perfect sense for both parties. The national team could use a dose of optimism and good cheer.