(Update, 6:42 p.m. ET: Hearing from one MLS source that Paulo Sousa is the coach soon to be named, despite the cool response from Red Bulls officials when reporters asked about the former QPR manager and other potential targets today.)
I was encouraged when I heard about the Red Bulls’ new management and its plans to incorporate a heavy American influence among the hierarchy of deciders.
Sounds like a solid plan, right? If Red Bull totem pole topper Gerard Houllier and sporting director Andy Roxburgh do not have a deep grasp on domestic soccer, best to bring someone onto the coaching staff who does.
It seemed that Red Bulls, a historic mess of a franchise in terms of personnel bungling, was still on some reasonable path to stability.
But then … Well, this is not a good sign. At all.
Yes, Major League Soccer’s off-season was brief, by domestic sports standards, anyway. So perhaps two months is not enough time to turn up a good coaching fit?
Then again, Roxburgh presumably knew late last season that he and the Red Bulls would not be retaining manager Hans Backe. So, uh, what are they waiting for in hiring a new man in charge?
Presumably, Roxburgh did not intend to be down in Florida running a training camp, along with interim man Mike Petke. And yet, here we are.
The team has gathered in New Jersey for the procedural work (physicals, meetings, etc.) before the real work begins in Florida.
What Roxburgh said today about this increasingly curious circumstance:
I want to address the obvious things. We’re talking to a number of people, a lot with really interesting backgrounds, but we’re still in discussions. We appreciate the fans’ patience, but we don’t want to rush to judgment. There will be an announcement soon. We ask that you be patient just a little bit longer. We want to make sure it’s someone who’s available and who’s appropriate.”
In his protracted search for a manager, Roxburgh calls it “a matter of taking time and doing things properly.” Fair enough.
But if conducting a player draft (a valuable tool in every MLS club’s box of player acquisition devices) without a managerial direction, and if starting a preseason training camp without a coach in charge is anyone’s idea of “doing things properly,” then a whole bunch of MLS teams out there are doing it wrong.
Could it be that this interesting theory from Empire of Soccer is correct, that conflicting ideas are mucking up the process?
The Red Bulls are the only team heading to training camp without a head coach.*
So we’re trying to give some benefit of the doubt to the new Red Bulls regime, but this is not starting well.
*Toronto FC has a coach, technically, but, well … oh, nevermind. We’ve covered that ground.