It’s nice when soccer can bring enemies together. On Tuesday, FIFA’s nomination of the Jurgen Klinsmann for world Coach of the Year caused both friend and foe to look at each other and say, “Yeah, that doesn’t look right.” Fans ganged up on the nomination, not each other. Feel free to hold hands and sing Kumbaya.
And they were right. Klinsmann’s results have been fine, but were his 2014 accomplishments really enough to justify a place on FIFA’s list? A 10-man group that covers both the club and international worlds? Probably not, and you don’t have to go very far to find a few other leaders with some very strong claims:
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Jorge Luis Pinto, former head coach, Costa Rica men’s national team – Pinto, that CONCACAF boss who saw this team finish first in its World Cup group and make the quarterfinals, was omitted from the list, having to deal with his disappointment while the coach of a group runner-up who didn’t make it out of the Round of 16 enjoyed his surprise nomination. Though Pinto’s fingerprints were all over his highly organized, hard-working unit, his efforts were forgotten some time before Tuesday’s reveal.
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Magic Johnson, former head coach, Los Angeles Lakers – On the one hand, Magic’s 16-game stint as head coach of the Lakers in 1994 was a disaster, ending with a 10-game losing streak and a 5-11 record. On the other hand, Magic’s a really charming guy, and there were surely a lot of people in the press corps that held a special place in their hearts for his greatness on the court. So … maybe he was deserves some extra credit as a good coach?
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Suge Knight, co-founder and former CEO, Death Row Records – Knight was on the ground floor of one of the more famous labels in hip hop history. He’s probably best known for his strong-arm tactics and the label’s failure in the wake of his incarceration, but he was also there when Dr. Dre gave us The Chronic, Snoop’s (first) legend was born, and Tupac entrenched himself as an icon. And … well … let’s just say we have significant ulterior motives for mentioning Suge’s a great guy who’s largely misunderstood. He would make a great nominee for any award.
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Brian Thompson, branch manager, Evanston (IL) Wells Fargo – Just a super nice guy. You think Brian would ever claim Tom Szymanski’s customer service slipped when he transferred to a branch closer to home? No. And would Brian ever deny Gloria Dominguez the opportunity to close out her career in the first teller position she deserved? Of course not. Brian Thompson: Stand up guy; stand up leader.
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Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense, United States of America – Now I know what you’re saying. “Soccer Gods, you’re being ridiculous now,” but hear us out. Rumsfeld was largely seen as promoting reduced troop levels during the recent Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, augmenting military forces with civilian contractors (from companies to which he and others in the Bush administration were tangentially connected). Is this really that much different from Klinsmann’s tactics in Brazil, ones that saw the U.S. concede 54.9 pct. possession to its opponents? These two are practically the same guy.
Walter White, drug lord, Albuquerque, NM – White saw success as an independent pharmacist, eventually extending his operations into Europe, but he was a terrible man-manager. His key charge, Jesse Pinkman, never felt secure beneath White’s inconsistent and domineering presence, while White’s wife and partner, Skyler, was always betrayed. Even one of his short-term partners, Gale Boetticher, ended up dead. That said, White made an excellent product, and he was rarely short of cash. In his business, those were the bottom lines, just as Klinsmann’s bottom line was getting out of his group.
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Megatron, leader, Decepticons – Every piece of propaganda we’ve seen about the great Autobots vs. the Decepticons conflict (movies, cartoons, my neighbor’s decidedly non-Gobot life) was always told from the Autobots’ point of view. Of course we’re more likely to see Optimus Prime as the hero. Never mind the carbon footprint of a Kenworth K100 truck is unsustainable, the Autobots were the good guys.
Yet when you see Klinsmann get nominated for FIFA Coach of the Year, it makes you question all your assumptions. It makes you wonder whether what you’ve defined as merely decent is actually great. Maybe, just maybe, if we had a chance to see the conflicts from the Decepticons’ point of view, Megatron would be the good guy after all?