One is a tall German, the other a short Colombian. But there are some interesting coaching parallels between Jürgen Klinsmann and Oscar Pareja. Their positive demeanor and active coaching styles during games are very similar, and their overall impressive results this year are a decent match as well. I'm not just talking about wins, but also how they're managing and developing young players and bringing the best out of young teams on relatively big stages.
Perhaps gone are the days of fear-inducing, disciplinarian coaches berating players for mistakes and expecting it to improve their play or the team's success. Cynics might argue that this is just a phase that reflects a larger culture shift toward political correctness. But that may not be the cultural shift most responsible for this change in coaching philosophy. Many experts say adolescence lasts until the mid-20's these days. It just takes longer for kids to grow up, and it would follow that the average soccer player has less emotional maturity than in previous generations. So having a coach who engages and directs, with a positive attitude, is important for younger players who may be trying to manage their professional environment before they are fully mentally ready for it.
If you listen to much of the media, Klinsmann has gone from tactical moron to wundercoach in the span of 9 games. It seems doubtful that he suddenly became a tactical genius in that span, and more likely that he had some luck, and his players have bought in to his way of managing and formed a coherent, confident team. Pareja has also earned a lot of respect from fans and pundits for his team's results this season, despite looking a bit lost at times last season as a rookie coach. Maybe this isn't so much about tactics, which (though important) will inevitably fail at times even in the best of circumstances. Perhaps it's more about these two coaches' ability to build a positive self-belief within their players, and then work that positive energy and confidence into a team-belief.
More than just coaching Xs and Os, with their styles and demeanor, Klinsmann and Pareja both put effort into nurturing their players, and their teams seem to be responding to that. Will this style win championships for either of them? We may soon find out.