German coaches' record abroad does not bode well for Jurgen Klopp

There are currently eight German managers scattered across the globe coaching national teams, from the USA (Jurgen Klinsmann) to Jamaica (Winfried Schafer), to South Korea (Uli Stielike) and Cameroon (Volker Finke).

For many decades, German coaches were in the highest demand across the world. They often worked as what the press dubbed "football missionaries," teaching the game's basics where there was little or no football infrastructure.

Most of these managers are hardly known outside of the countries they worked in. Even most in Germany have never heard of Burkhard Pape, who coached Sierra Leone and then Uganda between 1966 and 1972. Or Peter Schnittger, who took Ivory Coast to the semifinals of the African Nations Cup in 1968.

But some became famous. The first of these "Weltenbummlers" (globetrotters) was the late Dettmar Cramer. In 1960, he went to Japan as an adviser while the country was building a national team for the 1964 Olympics. He left after the tournament (Japan beat Argentina to reach the quarterfinals), but to this day he is still known as the father of Japanese football.

Cramer later won fame (and two European Cups) with Bayern Munich, but before he took over a club side, he travelled the world as a FIFA coach and is said to have worked in almost 70 countries. He didn't hold down a full-time post every time, which is why another legendary German is officially regarded the world's most-travelled coach: the one and only Rudi Gutendorf.

Over the course of his career, Gutendorf coached 55 sides in 30 countries on five continents, among them 18 national teams. That's what most sources -- including UEFA -- say, but Gutendorf also coached the Olympic teams of Iran and China at the 1988 and 1992 Games, respectively, so he should really be credited with managing 20 national teams. Either way, he's long since made the Guinness Book of Records.

In January 1975, Gutendorf went to Spain on a mission to save second-division Real Valladolid from relegation. He succeeded, collecting 23 points in 18 games under the old two-points rule, and later claimed he was "celebrated like an exorcist" by the fans. But he was also let go at the end of the season.

Later, he became the first foreigner to win the Japanese league with Yomiuri (now Tokyo Verdy) in 1984, but you have to say Gutendorf never managed to leave his mark on a club side in a really big football country outside of Germany. And that, strangely, is the norm rather than the exception.

German managers have done well in smaller leagues. Think of Ottmar Hitzfeld, who lifted two league titles and three cups in Switzerland. Or Georg Kessler, who in 1981 won the double with AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands. Or look at the country we covered last month, Turkey. But in the major European leagues -- England, Italy, Spain and France -- German presence and success has been underwhelming.

At the same time when Valladolid decided to cut ties with Gutendorf, his much more famous fellow countryman Hennes Weisweiler met with Agusti Montal i Costa, Barcelona's president, in a posh hotel in Paris. There, on May 28, 1975, Weisweiler signed on the dotted line to become the first German to coach one of the truly big clubs in the world other than Bayern.

The honeymoon lasted barely 10 months. Weisweiler, quickly nicknamed "Don Hennes" by both the Spanish and the German press, had a well-earned reputation for clashing with star players. Or, more precisely, for clashing with players who didn't agree that the coach was the real star.

"He was a control freak," his biographer Josef Weskamp revealed last year. "And suddenly he comes to Barcelona, an organisation with an incredible network and a potential for intrigue. Weisweiler misjudged the situation."

That's putting it mildly, because Don Hennes thought he could win a power struggle with Johan Cruyff, whom he accused of not putting in enough effort. ("At home, he was playing for the gallery," Weisweiler later told writer Dieter Ueberjahn. "Away from home, he did next to nothing.")

The dispute became front page material and fans began to brandish "Cruyff si, Weisweiler no" banners. In early April 1976, Barcelona extended Cruyff's contract for another year against Weisweiler's wishes. As soon as news reached him, he called the president and asked to be let out of his contract.

The next German who tried to have success with a really big team also signed for Barcelona and also tripped over a superstar. Ironically, it was Udo Lattek -- who, unlike Weisweiler, was supposed to get along well with stars because he let them have their way.

In 1981, Lattek's 15-year-old son died of leukaemia. At the time, he was coaching Borussia Dortmund. He quit this job and accepted an offer from Barcelona, feeling he had to leave the country and go to a foreign place to cope with the loss.

Unlike Weisweiler, Lattek had some success at what he later called "the most difficult club in the world." In 1982, he won the Cup Winners' Cup with Barcelona, which made him the only coach to win all three European cup competitions with three different teams -- having already won the European Cup with Bayern and the UEFA Cup with Borussia Monchengladbach.

But then Barcelona signed Diego Maradona and the two didn't see eye to eye. After a training session in February 1983, Lattek and the rest of the squad were sitting in the team's coach and waiting for Maradona so that they could leave; Lattek felt the star was trying to undermine his authority by having him wait.

A few years ago, he recalled the incident in an interview with Bild and said: "So finally I said: 'We're leaving!' There was a standing ovation from the other players."

Maradona, though, was none too pleased when he finally arrived at the car park only to find the coach had left without him. A few weeks later, Lattek was fired. "He went to the president to complain, saying I couldn't motivate him. They sacked me because of Diego," Lattek said.

Despite these experiences, Spain remained the one country where German coaches would still land high-profile jobs. Jupp Heynckes won qualification for the UEFA Cup during his first stint at Athletic Bilbao (1992-94) and then lifted the Champions League with Real Madrid in 1998. However, he finished only fourth in the league, which didn't go down well in Madrid.

The Spanish giants had waited 32 years to return to the throne of the European game, but Heynckes was sacked eight days after his historic triumph, becoming the first coach to lose his job despite having won the biggest trophy in club football.

His experience didn't faze his fellow countryman Bernd Schuster, who settled himself into the Real hot seat in 2007. He finally did what Weisweiler, Lattek and Heynckes had failed to do -- win the league. But less than eight months later, in December 2008, he too was fired, following a home defeat against Sevilla and with Real in fifth place.

And so, despite Heynckes' Champions League triumph, you can't say that German coaches have written much of a success story while coaching in a major football country. An unlikely candidate who came close to improving the balance sheet was Gernot Rohr.

Rohr, born in Mannheim, was a member of Udo Lattek's Bayern Munich squad in the early 1970s, but made a name for himself playing for Bordeaux. After more than 350 league appearances for the club, he joined Bordeaux's coaching staff. In February 1996, he took over the first-team on an interim basis. Although Bordeaux boasted an impressive collection of talent -- Bixente Lizarazu, Richard Witschge, a young Christophe Dugarry and a younger Zinedine Zidane -- the team was hovering near the relegation zone.

While the team's league form never really improved, Rohr guided the side to a spectacular 3-0 win over Milan in the UEFA Cup and eventually reached the competition's two-legged final. Bordeaux lost 5-1 on aggregate to Bayern, but the tie was not as one-sided as the scoreline suggests. In the return leg, the French were unlucky when Bayern's Emil Kostadinov recklessly took out the brilliant Lizarazu after half an hour of a scoreless game and was controversially allowed to stay on.

No matter how you look at it, the track record of German coaches abroad does not bode extremely well for Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool. However, he does like a challenge -- and we may safely assume that he'll do better than Felix Magath, the first German coach in England's top flight, who got relegated with Fulham and was sacked when his team sank to last place in the second division.