Under-fire Germany manager Jürgen Klinsmann received a vote of confidence from an unlikely quarter when Chancellor Angela Merkel told him Wednesday she was rooting for him.
Jürgen Klinsmann looked tense at Wednesday's media conference
Klinsmann's stewardship of the German national team has been given a mauling in recent weeks, with a humiliating 4-1 defeat to Italy sparking alarm with the World Cup finals looming in less than three months.
But Wednesday saw German Chancellor Angela Merkel step into the fray with vote of confidence in Klinsmann after meeting the beleaguered former international along with 2006 World Cup organizing committee chief Franz Beckenbauer, and a senior German football official.
"I am confident that Klinsmann and his team are on the right track," said Merkel, adding that she was confident the World Cup "would be a success for Germany, both on and off the pitch."
Merkel dismissed complaints against the manager's controversial leadership methods, saying that Klinsmann's policy of blooding young players in the team was "justified," and called on fans not to "put down" the team ahead of the finals, which get underway on June 9.
"You've made sweeping changes and introduced new approaches," she said. "If that works, then everything is fine, but if it doesn't there will be a storm of criticism."
Angela Merkel has also been put through her paces
As another public figure at the receiving end of national resentment, Merkel probably knows just how Klinsmann feels these days.
"When you have the courage of your convictions you have to stick to them, as I know from personal experience," she told him in a touching pep talk.
Klinsmann has faced criticism not only for his team's poor results but also for his refusal to move from his home in California in the months leading up the finals, preferring instead to commute between the United States and Germany.
After his recent vocally criticism of Klinsmann for failing to attend a World Cup workshop in Düsseldorf, Beckenbauer couldn't resist a few more jibes, even though Klinsmann now plans to remain in Germany.
"Too much sun is bad for you," he said.
"We'll do our own thing, wherever we're based," responded a visibly nervous Klinsmann. "Anyone who tries something new has to accept that they'll ruffle feathers."