Jürgen Klinsmann's predilection for a 4-4-2 could solve the selection headache predecessor Ante Covic had with Javairo Dilrosun and Dodi Lukebakio at Hertha Berlin.. - © 2019 DFL
Jürgen Klinsmann's predilection for a 4-4-2 could solve the selection headache predecessor Ante Covic had with Javairo Dilrosun and Dodi Lukebakio at Hertha Berlin.. - © 2019 DFL

Jürgen Klinsmann: a 4-4-2 manager with Germany, Bayern Munich, the USA and beyond?

Jürgen Klinsmann has been appointed Hertha Berlin coach at least until the end of the season. How will the Old Lady line up for the remainder of the campaign? His previous stints in charge of Germany, Bayern Munich and the USA offer some clues…

Klinsmann was a striker of quite some aplomb in his heyday, winning league titles in Italy and Germany as well as the FIFA World Cup with Germany at Italia '90. A Ballon d'Or runner-up in 1995, Klinsmann was a fine individual player, but he did his best work as part of a strike partnership - perhaps most notably with Rudi Völler for Germany and latterly Teddy Sheringham at Tottenham Hotspur.

Jürgen Klinsmann (l.) and Rudi Völler (r.) - both later Germany managers - were a devastating strike partnership for Germany in the 1980s and '90s. - imago images

It is unsurprising, then, that Klinsmann's managerial career so far has been underpinned by the same 4-4-2 system he flourished in as a player. Klinsmann's Germany finished third at the World Cup on home soil in 2006; his Bayern were runners-up to Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga in 2009; and his USA won the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2013. Each time Klinsmann stuck to his tried-and-trusted 4-4-2, nudging ever closer to silverware with the same system.

Klinsmann wasn't scared to throw in players from outside Germany's biggest clubs in his spell as Mannschaft coach. - DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga

Arguably the most notable feature of Klinsmann's Germany was the strike partnership between Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski. The pair were actually given their international debuts by Klinsmann's predecessor as coach and former Germany strike partner, Völler, in 2001 and 2004 respectively. They would go on to lift the World Cup under his successor, Joachim Löw, in 2014.

"The record books are that way, Poldi" - Miroslav Klose (l.) and Lukas Podolski (r.) are first and third respectively in the list of all-time top scorers for Germany. - imago images

Klose (71 goals) and Podolski (49) went on to outscore Klinsmann and Völler (both 47) for Germany. Their chemistry was perhaps helped by their ability to communicate in Polish, bamboozling opponents, but the former's nose for being in the right place at the right time and the latter's athleticism and thunderbolt shot will give Hertha's stable of strikers heart. Captain Vedad Ibisevic, the elusive Dodi Lukebakio, target-man Davie Selke and the deeper-lying Salomon Kalou have radically different profiles. Klinsmann is likely to find a way to field at least two of them at the same time.

Philipp Lahm operated as a left-back at Bayern Munich before David Alaba's emergence as a first-team force in Bavaria. - DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga

Klinsmann's Bayern two seasons later had many of the same personnel as Germany. Regulars in both sides included Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm. Although Klinsmann's tenure is widely regarded as a disappointment by the record champions' fans - they won the title the years before and after he was coach - there was more than one positive from the then 44-year-old's time at the club.

One was the establishment of the player development and performance centre at Säbener Straße which would eventually produce first-team talents like Thomas Müller and David Alaba; another was his willingness to adapt before the next generation were ready to burst through.

Franck Ribery (l.) flourished as an inverted winger under Klinsmann (r.) during their single season together at Bayern. - Getty Images

With no natural left-back until Alaba's debut in 2010, the right-footed Lahm continued as a left-back before making the switch to his more natural side on a full-time basis the following campaign. Schweinsteiger - years before being repurposed as a deep-lying playmaker - had played on the left wing under Klinsmann for Germany, yet on his favoured right flank at Bayern. He enjoyed 12 assists that season, the same number as Franck Ribery, an inverted winger on the opposite side.

Javairo Dilrosun could receive more playing time if he wasn't restricted to playing on the left wing. - imago images

Javairo Dilrosun's ears might prick up at this point. The young Dutchman has already scored two Goal of the Season candidates this term but has been restricted to just seven starts. He could be in for more minutes under a coach who doesn't insist in playing lefties on the left and righties on the right.

Klinsmann led the USMNT to their fifth CONCACAF Gold Cup success in 2013 using a 4-4-2 system. - DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga

Klinsmann's USMNT were a well-drilled unit when they peaked in 2013. Nobody ran harder than the US in front of their home fans at that year's CONCACAF Gold Cup, everybody knew their job, and the results were resounding. The US won a perfect six games from six, scored 20 goals, conceded just four - tournament highs and lows respectively - and richly deserved their fifth regional title.

Klinsmann's reign ultimately plateaued, and he was relieved of his duties as head coach in November 2016 with the country's hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia diminishing - not before his final tactical tweak, though, and one that even the most ardent USMNT fan must have seen the sense in.

Borussia Dortmund youth product Christian Pulisic scored seven goals for the USMNT from the No.10 position during the qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup. - imago images

The stunning emergence of Christian Pulisic at Borussia Dortmund saw Klinsmann deviate from his preferred system which had two banks of four, and he started to play a diamond shape in midfield, at the tip of which was Pulisic. Already the youngest player to play and score for BVB in the UEFA Champions League, Pulisic had a direct hand in 13 goals in that qualifying campaign despite the US ultimately not making it to Russia.

Hertha have the personnel to play 4-4-2 - diamond midfield or not - under Klinsmann. - 2019 DFL

So, what will this mean for Hertha this season? Klinsmann has only accepted the role of coach until the end of the current campaign, at which point he is likely to return to his recent board duties. Whoever inherits his role in the Olympiastadion dugout is likely to walk into an upbeat dressing room - something Löw and Jupp Heynckes could attest to - while the players can look forward to a clean slate.

What will Hertha Berlin's future look like under Jürgen Klinsmann? Only time will tell. - imago images

Lukebakio and Ibisevic playing together instead of alternating starts? Why not? Dilrosun and others inverted? It's more than possible. And what about Pulisic's experience with the US? Vladimir Darida can probably breathe a sigh of relief. The Czech has flourished playing in the No.10 role in contrast to his more defensive positioning of old, although Ondrej Duda - owner of a career-best 11 goals and five assists last term - might have more to say about that than any flat midfield…