Redemption for Klinsmann after victory in friendly

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The Independent Football

In England, the national team and its coach are either all-conquering heroes or dastardly villains. In Germany the same rules apply, which meant that Jürgen Klinsmann has made a rapid transition in his countrymen's eyes from the captain of a sinking ship to the man steering the national side to glory.

Germans breathed a collective sight of relief on Wednesday after the World Cup hosts beat the United States 4-1 in a friendly, bringing to an abrupt end all speculation about Klinsmann's immediate future.

The 41-year-old former Tottenham striker who was appointed two years ago, suffered a near hysterical hammering in the national media after the 4-1 defeat to Italy in Florence a fortnight ago. The team's dismal performance was blamed on his unorthodox training methods and his insistence on coaching his side via computer from his home in California.

The row put Klinsmann at odds with Franz Beckenbauer, Fifa's World Cup organiser in Germany and Theo Zwanziger, the head of the German Federation, prompting speculation that he would be replaced before the World Cup.

However Wednesday's victory in Dortmund was enough to banish the question marks.

The Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger scored in the second half with an inswinging free-kick, while Oliver Neuville curled a volley past the American defence to make it 2-0. Miroslav Klose and the captain, Michael Ballack, scored the others.

"Germany has every reason to be very satisfied with its performance," Beckenbauer said afterwards. Even a slip by the goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, which gave the US a consolation goal, was forgiven. "With such a performance we could afford to make such mistakes," Beckenbauer said.

Germany's Bild newspaper, which had called on Klinsmann to stay in America after the defeat to Italy, changed its tune yesterday: "After the disaster against Italy, Germany has repaired the damage with a 4-1 victory. Klinsi you can grin!," the paper said yesterday.

The only figure in German football still smarting was Klinsmann, and yesterday he lambasted the German media for what he described as "disrespectful and aggressive" attacks.

"We now know where we stand - 4-1 is no reason for euphoria, but we have managed to restore a measure of self- confidence in the run up to the World Cup," he said. "This young team is in the final stages of development. It is important for it to be allowed to get on with its job in peace."

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