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Spring cleaning for Klinsmann

Jürgen Klinsmann has been ringing the changes since taking over as Germany coach.

By Mark Bennett

Since taking over as Germany coach last summer, Jürgen Klinsmann has made constant changes to the national team set-up. One of his first moves was to part company with Bernd Pfaff, who had been in charge of organising everything around the squad for more than a decade.

Eilts in, Maier out
Then the 40-year-old installed Dieter Eilts as Under-21 coach and replaced goalkeeping trainer Sepp Maier, who had criticised Klinsmann's decision not to back FC Bayern München's Oliver Kahn as the German No1 in the build-up to the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Köpke appointment
Nobody was really surprised when, following the 2-0 win in Iran last month, Andreas Köpke was installed as Maier's successor. Like Klinsmann, Eilts and team manager Oliver Bierhoff, the former shot-stopper was part of the Germany side that triumphed at EURO '96™.

Slow facelift
However, these are just the changes Klinsmann has made to his coaching and backroom staff. The former striker has also made alterations to his squad, despite using 12 players who travelled to UEFA EURO 2004™ for his first match, a 3-1 win in Austria on 18 August.

Hamann absent
The most notable differences are the absence of Liverpool FC midfielder Dietmar Hamann, yet to return under Klinsmann, and the inclusion of FC Schalke 04 striker Gerald Asamoah, who had been out of the picture since the 2002 World Cup.

Attacking style
Although the personnel is not dissimilar to that which disappointed in Portugal, Klinsmann has amended the style of play and won German hearts. Germany play attacking football from the word go and no longer rely solely on disciplined defending to get a result.

More changes
Klinsmann made more subtle adjustments to his squad for the friendly against Brazil. This time only nine players involved at EURO 2004™ took part in the 1-1 draw against the world champions in September. One thing that did not change, however, was the new attacking approach.

Valuable experience
Klinsmann has also maintained his idea of selecting young players and, when possible, not replacing injured veterans with players who will not be in contention in 2006. "We have two years to prepare for the World Cup and that means young players can gain valuable experience without the pressure of having to qualify," said the coach.

Young defence
His preference for up and coming youngsters is clear when looking at Germany's defence for the friendly against Cameroon on Wednesday. Klinsmann has picked Robert Huth, Moritz Volz, Per Mertesacker, Philipp Lahm and Christian Wörns for the match. The five defenders have an average age of 22.8, with Wörns by far the oldest at 32.

Rummenigge's criticism
As expected, not everybody has welcomed Klinsmann's changes. Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has blasted him for not supporting Kahn and forcing Maier out. And the coach has also been criticised for refusing to pick Oliver Neuville, who has scored nine goals this season and is the best German striker in the Bundesliga.

Daum approval
But Klinsmann is also being backed. Fenerbahçe SK coach Christoph Daum has welcomed the new broom. "It was about time somebody came around and cleaned up the German Football Association," he said.