Offseason Issues

Offseason issues: The manager

Photo: Earl Gardner

Editors’ note: Philadelphia Union face a host of issues this offseason, and the Philly Soccer Page wants to answer them. Over the course of two weeks, different writers will spotlight different issues, explore possible solutions, and make an argument for what to do.

It starts with the manager. Philadelphia Union don’t have one.

Yes, there is Jim Curtin. But he has that fat “interim” tag in front of his title. Curtin remains a placeholder, either for himself or someone else.

Is there someone more qualified, or is Curtin the guy?

The case for Curtin

The case for hiring Curtin consists of this:

  1. The turnaround: He turned around an underperforming team, took them to their first final and nearly won it, and almost made the playoffs on the back of an impressive hot streak.
  2. Philly local: He is a Philadelphia-area native and understands the region’s sports market like few others.
  3. Affordability: Curtin likely costs less than other managers due to a hometown discount and his inexperience as a coach.
  4. Understanding of MLS: He has a firsthand understanding of life as an MLS player and the toll it takes on you. (The travel — see our 2013 interviews with him in the challenges of playing on the road from 2013 here and here — practice routines, etc. )

Beyond that, Curtin made some very good lineup decisions upon taking over team leadership.

  • Sebastien Le Toux, forward: Though Curtin kept Sebastien Le Toux in the same starting position, he tactically moved Le Toux more centrally to play more as a true right forward than a winger coming out of midfield. Le Toux responded with 11 goals and 7 assists in 21 regular season and cup matches under Curtin.
  • Andrew Wenger, target winger: Forget the career high goals and assists stats. Anyone who saw Wenger play after his move to left winger could see he was becoming the player everyone expected after he was selected first in the 2012 SuperDraft. The positional move took pressure off the cerebral attacker and freed him to just play the game rather than concern himself constantly with scoring. The result looks like a potential all-star.
  • Maurice Edu, center back: You could make a good case for Edu being the best center back in the league after his move. You would be wrong, of course, because Edu takes too many plays off, but it would still be a very compelling case that could prove correct if Edu returns to the role next season.
  • Amobi Okugo, defensive midfield: Whether Okugo is a better midfielder than defender is debatable. But Curtin gave Okugo the shot the midfielder had wanted, which is the chance to play midfield regularly. The team went 9-5-5 in all competitions with Okugo playing center midfield.

Yes, Curtin failed to make in-game adjustments necessary to hold leads, and no game showed that more clearly than the Union’s Oct. 11 collapse against Columbus that effectively knocked Philadelphia out of the playoffs. But that happens with rookie coaches. Curtin will learn from it, just like the others do.

The case against Curtin

Curtin’s record of 9-6-6 against MLS competition is pretty similar to what Mark Watson did as interim coach last year (11-5-3) with San Jose. Watson was fired last month.

The Union’s collapse requires one to examine the Union’s hot streak. It remains impressive, but it’s worth noting who the opposition was. In all competitions, the Union went 4-1-4 against MLS clubs who missed the playoffs, 2-0-0 against USL clubs, and 5-5-2 against playoff teams. That last stat would be more impressive if not for the fact that two of those wins were against New England during its nine-game losing streak and a third game was against Kansas City while it was in the midst of losing 7 of its final 10 games. So on the whole, the Union were beating middling teams during Curtin’s tenure. That’s important to do — it’s what good teams do — but it takes a bit of the shine off the streak.

Beyond that, nothing makes the case against Curtin like the benching of Amobi Okugo and what happened after it.

The Union went 10-2-4 in all competitions from the time Curtin took over as manager until Sept. 16, when he inexplicably benched Okugo for the U.S. Open Cup final against Seattle and again days later against Houston. (That Houston game also marked goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi’s ascension to the starting lineup in place of Zac MacMath, though most blame Union chief executive Nick Sakiewicz for this instead of Curtin.)

Philadelphia lost that Seattle game, and they kept losing. They went 1-4-2 from then on, lost all positive momentum and collapsed into a playoffless offseason of discontent.

“I think Amobi is a great player,” Curtin said at the time. “But at the same time, he’s not displacing Vincent, he’s not displacing Chaco and he’s not displacing Maurice Edu in the midfield at this time in our group. That was the decision.”

It was the wrong decision, and it helped cost the Union the season. Considering Okugo had displaced Edu rather successfully for the prior three months, the decision seemed to come from nowhere.

Was the collapse all due to the absence of Okugo? No. He returned to the lineup anyway after Edu got hurt. But something had changed. Combined with the benching of Zac MacMath, which most blame Union chief executive Nick Sakiewicz for, the moves helped sapped the team’s momentum. The team also needs to learn how to hold a lead.

Whether the Okugo decision came from Curtin, the front office, or Edu agitating for a return to midfield, Curtin enacted the decision and made it very clear he rated Okugo below Edu in midfield, despite Okugo outplaying Edu there.

As of now, the Union have not made Okugo a contract renewal offer, according to Okugo. Does that mean the Union won’t? Of course they will, if they haven’t already. He’ll get at least the minimum qualifying offer so the Union retain his rights within MLS. Okugo will then have three choices: Leave for Europe, renew with the Union for less than he’s worth, or accept a trade to another MLS club.

For that to occur with a 23-year-old borderline all-star and last of two Union originals, it’s mind-boggling. Curtin may be an interim manager, but if he rated Okugo a bit better, it’s hard to imagine a better offer wouldn’t be forthcoming. He is younger than Edu, will cost less than Edu, outplayed Edu in midfield, and is more popular with Union fans because they have cheered him for five years. It doesn’t matter that he is considering Europe; you need to make that choice tougher for him.

Someone will pay Okugo in the $250-300k range. If it’s not a European club, it will be another team in MLS. NYC FC and Orlando could do much worse than building their midfield or back line around a 23-year-old, talented anchor like Okugo.

As a manager, you need to understand that. You need to make that case to the front office. And they need to listen. If not, it may be that you’re not the right guy for the job.

The alternatives: A shortlist of 12

If it’s not Curtin, then it has to be someone else, right?

So let’s start with the names that we know from the Union’s reported shortlist of 12 candidates, in the order that they should be considered. The list is surprisingly impressive.

  1. David Moyes: If the former Everton and Manchester United manager is available at a price the Union can afford, they should hire him. His track record at Everton shows he understands how to build a team using a buy-low/sell-high approach, which is at the foundation of constructing good MLS rosters. His Everton squads overachieved beyond their limited financial means to routinely qualify for European competition. Forget the year at Man U. Philadelphia is to MLS as Everton is to the EPL. Unfortunately, the Union are unlikely to be able to afford Moyes.
  2. Rene Meulensteen: The former Manchester United assistant got his shot at head jobs in Denmark, Russia, and England, but none of them was a good situation. Brondby was beginning a collapse into an ownership-driven mediocrity, Anzhi was a totally dysfunctional club, and Meulensteen got just two months at Fullham before the axe came. Meulensteen has a reputation as a good developer of talent and has learned from the best as part of Alex Ferguson’s staff. Still, he has never worked in MLS, and its complicated roster permutations and difficult travel burden will be crucial aspects of the job with which he is wholly unfamiliar. Also, there’s this.
  3. Owen Coyle: The former Burnley manager reportedly interviewed for the job and should be considered a strong candidate. He led St. Johnstone and Burnley to promotion to the top tiers in Scotland and England in his first two jobs, respectively. His biggest mistake was that he never should have left Burnley for Bolton midseason in 2010. Stuart Holden’s catastrophic injury problems tanked Bolton, which saw its financial overreaches subsequently revealed. At Wigan, Roberto Martinez was a tough act to follow. Coyle would be a good choice, but his unfamiliarity with MLS works against him.
  4. Jesse Marsch: Marsch’s record in Montreal’s inaugural season looks more impressive considering the mess that followed. He sent out a disciplined squad that fared well for an expansion club. However, he clashed with his top Italian players, who were more integral to owner Joey Saputo’s vision than Marsch was, and he didn’t endear himself to many with how he handled the Brian Ching misadventure in Montreal. Marsch deserves another chance to coach in MLS, but Philadelphia may not be the right place for another Bob Bradley disciple. The Union have already hired and fired two of them.
  5. Dave Jones: Jones led Cardiff to their best results in nearly 40 years before he was fired in 2011 after his team lost in England’s promotion playoffs two straight years. He then led Sheffield Wednesday to promotion in his first season at the job before getting the sack after the team failed to adjust quickly enough to better competition. Either way, he has a good track record, with the primary knock against him being his unfamiliarity with MLS.
  6. Fabio Cannavaro: The Italian great does not speak English well. Next please.
  7. John Harkes: Harkes was reportedly on the Union’s shortlist of 12 candidates. That’s not a very short list. When it’s shortened further, Harkes shouldn’t make the cut. His coaching experience consists of just one year assisting New York. He was a decent TV analyst, but nothing he said ever made you think he might make a great coach. (Having spent a season with Alejandro Moreno as a TV analyst, Union fans know what it’s like to hear those kinds of great insights.)
  8. Tony Meola: Meola also made the Union’s shortlist, but he has no professional coaching experience. The former national team great should spend some time as an assistant first after six years away from the pro game.
  9. Eric Wynalda: We don’t know if Wynalda was on the shortlist, but he should be. His efforts with semipro Cal FC in the 2013 US Open Cup were memorable. His vision for development of American players is spot on, and he appears to have a good eye for talent: He was the champion of Chris Klute, the Atlanta Silverbacks player who went on to become one of the best left backs in MLS with Colorado. Wynalda’s blunt, outspoken demeanor could be perfect in Philadelphia, and he is a big enough name that his hire would make a huge splash with the fan base. He also has a familiarity with MLS through his years in the league and as a TV commentator. The biggest drawback is that the presence of both Wynalda and Nick Sakiewicz in the front office could result in World War III. Of course, that could be a very entertaining war.

Jim Curtin is on this shortlist too, but we have no idea who names 10-12 are.

Former Vancouver Martin Rennie will coach in Korea next year, so take him off the list. Robin Fraser deserves another shot at a job after admirably failing at Chivas USA, and he should be considered about on par with Marsch. A few other names could emerge, but with a list as comprehensive as the one above, does Sakiewicz really need another dozen names?

Conclusion: Jim Curtin should be Philadelphia’s Carl Robinson — the fallback option

David Moyes isn’t taking a job with Philadelphia, so let’s move on. The Union can’t afford him, and MLS is not the way you follow up a high-profile failure at Man U.

That brings us to Curtin. Yes, he has impressed. He appears to have a future as a manager. He is distinctly Philadelphian, likable, and pragmatic. He makes good decisions more often than not, and he could be a very good hire.

But rightly or wrongly, the Union will have a tougher time justifying to fans the promotion of a second straight interim manager from within after crashing out of the 2014 playoff race the way they did. Had the Union made the playoffs, Curtin would have earned the job over any possible alternatives. But they didn’t, and he didn’t.

Further, the Okugo situation reveals a distinct lack of vision. Okugo’s youth, talent, charisma, intellect, versatility and status as a Union original should make him one of the two or three most important players on the Union. Curtin has treated him as just another player, which is fine for equanimity’s sake, but Okugo has earned more than that.

Curtin should be considered a fallback managerial option to a bigger name, as Carl Robinson was for Vancouver. Much like Robinson, Curtin would be a very good fallback. If the Union strike out on the big name, Curtin should be offered the job on a one-year contract with a respectable salary in the lower third of salaries for MLS coaches. He should not be low-balled with an assistant’s salary, but he should be given the option to prove himself.

If the Union hire someone else, Curtin should be retained as an assistant with a salary that ranks him as one of the best paid assistants in the league. He should be groomed for the lead role, viewed as a prospective successor, and given opportunities to interview for other clubs’ lead jobs when they become available.

When it comes to those bigger names, Meulensteen, Coyle and Jones are respectable options, but none have worked in MLS or come through the American youth development system. Those are major knocks against them that bump them lower down the list. Jesse Marsch is an oft-mentioned name, but his coaching resume is no better than Curtin, who actually has more coaching experience.

That brings us to the big name the Union should consider: Eric Wynalda. No, Wynalda has not been mentioned in connection with the job, and it may be that he is not on the shortlist. That doesn’t matter. He should be.

Some may view Wynalda as little more than a loudmouth firebrand, but he is more than that. When he opens his mouth about American soccer, he’s often uncomfortably right in his assessments. People aren’t used to American soccer personalities making bold pronouncements as brashly as he does, so he gets a bad rap in an entirely too chummy environment.

Wynalda understands MLS and American soccer from the ground up. His vision for youth development lines up with what the Union once professed to be their foundational philosophy. He understands how to link up with USL teams and use them to his advantage — example: Chris Klute, former Atlanta Silverback, currently a top MLS left back in Colorado — and he believes in bringing young American players through to the top level. Wynalda knows the American development system from having experienced it, and his classic line about how an American youth coach would complain about David Beckham’s weak left foot is hilariously spot on. He would take homegrown players to the next level and actually give them the opportunity to become top-tier players.

In the locker room, Wynalda would command respect due to his playing exploits. He would have to earn it as a coach, like any other. His interest in attacking soccer would result in an entertaining team on the field, and the question would be simply whether Wynalda has the chops to manage a team on the field as well as Oscar Pareja or Jason Kreis would.

Off the field, Wynalda would jumpstart the fan base like few others. If he is interested and affordable, he should be under consideration. His fiery demeanor would grab tons of media attention and probably prompt numerous skeptics to renew their season tickets and tune into the club once again. Might he say some things that draw negative attention? Absolutely. But I’ll take that any day over someone who draws no attention.

Some might criticize the Atlanta Silverbacks experiment, in which he basically worked as a long distance team consultant but was given a title and authority far outstretching that, but that was more the fault of misguided team ownership. The experiment failed, but it was just that: an experimental model. Move on. Wynalda would either commit fully to an MLS club — goodbye, Fox Soccer gig — or not take the job.

If Wynalda fails, it would be a gloriously entertaining failure of epic proportions. Think plagues of locusts, screaming babies, and all-out media flame wars between Wynalda and Sakiewicz. For those of you who don’t like Wynalda, the bonus here would be that he would finally have to shut up.

But if he succeeds in enacting the vision he has independently articulated, he could take the Union’s course exactly in the direction of the club’s original vision. And it would be so much fun to watch.

Put simply, the Union are a team in a bad place. They need someone with vision. They need a game-changer. They need to make a splash. Wynalda would be it.

If the Union don’t want to take a risk on Wynalda, Curtin would be a respectable hire.

40 Comments

  1. Many teams get a bounce when an interim couch takes over. I dont think Curtin is the way forward. Once the bounce played itself out the true colors of the team and the coach showed through. Its a tough decision but it needs to be made. Curtin is the safe choice, but they need to take a chance. Since nothing else seems to have worked yet.

    • I agree with you that is a very good litmus test, but if I was arguing the other side of things, I would point to Ben Olsen and Jay Heaps.

  2. Ed Farnsworth says:

    I think most would agree that the primary knock against Curtin is his lack of experience as a head coach. If that is the case, Eric Wynalda as head coach is a terrible idea. He has little experience aside from coaching United States Adult Soccer Association (fifth division) Cal FC in a briefly captivating 2012 US Open Cup. Before that, he was an assistant coach at National Premier Soccer League (fourth division) side San Diego Flash.

    But wasn’t he the manager of the NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks?

    During his time with Atlanta he was a coach as the term is conventionally understood (outside of a brief period as interim head coach) but some kind of old-timey manager-technical director hybrid. Why is that? Because he continues to work as a TV analyst for Fox. (Make a choice: Be a TV loudmouth or an actual head coach because you can’t be both when the season is on.)

    It was Brian Haynes who led Atlanta to the Soccer Bowl final in 2013 and, after they lost, he was fired, replaced by Jason Smith. Atlanta is now dead last in the NASL with a combined 6-16-5 record between the Spring and Fall seasons and ownership is looking to sell the franchise.

    The cash-strapped Union need to make a serious choice, not a barroom debate choice for head coach. Curtin is local, the players credit him for instituting changes that led to the team’s summer surge and back him to continue, and he has more experience in the contemporary MLS than Wynalda, who last was involved in the league when the Red Bulls were the MetroStars, and Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny were still around.

    Union fans don’t need a “gloriously entertaining failure of epic proportions.” They’ve been there and done that. Maybe Wynalda could be in the GM conversation, but as head coach? I just don’t get it.

    • I agree completely with this. After this team has failed to make the playoffs four out of the five seasons they have existed why on earth would they want to gamble on a blowhard with no experience with the only consolation being that the collapse would be ‘gloriously entertaining’

      • That’s the prospect of failure. The prospect of success is entirely different.

      • Ed Farnsworth says:

        “Prospect of success”? Why is Wynalda’s higher than Curtin’s?

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        Love you Dan, but I’m with Ed on this one. I see the high-risk, potential for catastrophic failure, but I don’t have any grasp on where the reward part comes in. Wynalda has zero experience in an MLS coaching staff and very little as a coach, period. Add his personality to that mix and the risk far, far outweighs any potential of reward in my eyes.

    • I agree Ed. While Wynalda could be exciting, he doesn’t have recent experience in MLS or even much experience as a coach. After three coaches in five years without much progress, I’m reluctant to embrace a potential Wynalda experiment.

    • +1 on the last paragraph. I am not interested in a gloriously entertaining failure. I do not know Wynalda, but from what people say about him, he sounds like a high-risk, high-reward proposition. And I guess I feel like the Union, with a number of talented players, on the cusp of being a playoff-level team, really don’t need that.

      • Yes, that’s a good way to put it: High risk, high reward. I’m a shoot-the-moon kind of guy. 😉

    • I think Wynalda would be a great choice. He knows soccer better than Curtin, having played in the US and Germany and has done something incredible with his Cal team. He could do something incredible here, and if it is not incredible then it will be a lot more entertaining than what Curtin has shown us this year.
      .
      Curtin’s Okugo fiasco should not be underestimated!

      • Ed Farnsworth says:

        Nor should it be overstated.

        On what evidence does Wynalda know “soccer better than Curtin”? We’re not talking about what someone did 20 years ago, or 2 years ago in a tournament that many pro teams don’t take seriously. What did Cal FC do? They beat a USL PRo team, then Portland, before being thrashed 5-0 by Seattle. Yeah, give Wynalda the keys.

    • Curtin is local, the players credit him for instituting changes that led to the team’s summer surge

      The players also supported Hackworth and claimed he was their guy . . . going so far as the ridiculous “group hug” moment in the win over KC when he was getting roasted by the fans.

      Bottom line the players will defend whomever is in charge at the given time.

      For me Curtin is nothing but Hackworth 2.0. You need only look at the crossing stats during his tenure to see that his tactics were no different then his predecessor, and his results were no different using those tactics. We need a coach who has a plan B, and doesn’t result to simply throwing out different subs(Brown) with different skill sets but then still using the same ineffective tactic over and over and over. I’d do it 36 times to hammer home my point, but you’d get quickly sick of it. That’s exactly how I felt when they crossed it 36 times in the final game repeating the same failures of the majority of his previous games at the helm.

  3. Philadelphia is to MLS what Everton is to EPL is a high hard one to the testes from your arch-enemy in 4th grade. True until proven otherwise. But it still hurts like hell.
    .
    I go to the well often with that image.

  4. In reference to the Okugo situation. The next CBA will be interesting. Either The league are going to pay more money than they would like to the rank and file players or they going to pay the rank and file less and give players free agency within the league. Okugo’s options are bullshit.

    • Are you trying to say that you don’t believe that Okugo could get that kind of contract either inside or outside of MLS?

  5. Nice piece, Dan.

    I think you need to make a pretty convincing argument for anyone else over Curtin right now. I keep thinking of how patience with Ben Olsen and Jay Heaps paid off. If you could bring in someone from the EPL like Moyes — successful, a good talent scout and developer — and you could keep Curtin on as a well-paid assistant — then I’d get it.

    I also continue to be skeptical of the idea that benching Okugo was the great cataclysmic force that sent this team into a death spiral. These guys have given up stupid, late goals all season. They just got bit by some bad ones at the worst possible moments. I think those failures were as much on the players on the field as the coach.

    Given a better roster, I really think Curtin is capable of guiding this team to the playoffs. He needs a good target striker and better talent off the bench to rotate so starters don’t get gassed (a possible reason for the post USOC final malaise).

  6. The Okugo saga is really upsetting. Easily my favorite player on the team, and someone that should be a core piece for years to come. The Union FO really needs to patch that one up and make a genuine offer. You could pencil him at CDM for many years to come. Do that first, then approach Edu with the pitch that he’ll pair with Valdes for one of the best CB pairs in the league, with an occasional start at CDM to spell Okugo.

    Tough call on Curtin. I think he can be a very good coach, but would we all be patient enough to see it out? If kept as an assistant to groom, do we lose him altogether?

  7. This is a parlor game, right? Sak has said everything short of “JC will be coach.” And Sak’s influence on the club will be Curtin’s undoing. Sak is CEO but says he spends 85% of his time looking for investors. That’s not even part of the job description of the CEO in a normal organization. The worst development in Curtin is the tendency to make decisions that aren’t explained. Like Okugo. Like faulting players’ psyches for the CLB collapse rather than his tactical blunders. Woe unto us.

  8. I posted this on another page, but I want it out there with additions.
    What needs to happen next?? In 6 words.
    JIM CURTIN – OUT
    RENE MEULENSTEEN – IN (if he still wants the job??)
    I for one am getting really pissed with people. Why is Curtin getting special treatment? Is it cos he’s young, and seen to be ‘one of ours?’
    HE FAILED GUYS!!! HE FLAT OUT FAILED!!!
    I agree he started well, and gave us some hope. But, he made the most of the bounce effect, after hackworth, who couldn’t? But, he had half a season to get things going, and remember, in August, he had us in the PLay-off spots. He got us to a cup final as well, and i’m grateful for that, but WE LOST! (and 2 of the wins were on PK’s, so he didn’t win the game, he won the lottery).
    so, from being in a play-off spot, how can we finish 7 points out of the picture (in about 8 games)? How? He isn’t up to it, HE FAILED! He may succeed in the future, but his time is not now!
    And, because our FO is weak, they listened to us, and tried to keep the ‘Curtin fan club’ happy. And in doing so, by-passed Rene Meulensteen, who according to reports was house hunting at the time.
    We need a Head Coach (key word= COACH). As is obvious, our FO makes the personnel decisions (Rais, Valdes etc). So, Meulensteen the COACH (EPL winner x 5, Champions League x 1) had to be a safer bet, rather than betting the house on a rookie (who is a nice guy).
    1 win in 7 when it matters! HE FAILED!!
    If Meulensteen is still available, the FO should be begging him to reconsider, if he would still come.
    Or, come May/June we will be looking for a replacement, when we are in the Eastern basement.
    IN MY OPINION!!

    To add onto those:
    Moyes, is apparently bound for Real Sociedad, and realistically, the MLS is about equal in standard to the bottom of the English Championship, why on earth would he come to a club that isn’t even anywhere near a winning franchise in a league that is far removed from the level he is used to. Comparing us to Everton??? Come on, get real!!!
    Coyle: OMG?? Did you ever watch his teams play? If we want Route one football great. He is a dinosaur,
    Jones??? See above, but with bells on!!!! Not been anywhere near the game for a few years, and there have been plenty of jobs in the UK coming up. Not for me.

    As you can see, I’m biased (im a Man U fan in the EPL). But we need players developing, and for me one candidate can do that in a ‘modern’ game.

    Anyway, no doubt I’m in a minority of experts, but if we took Coyle or Jones my expectation of seeing the ball on the floor would be gone.

    As for the other candidates. I’d rather stick with Curtin. In my view he flopped, but for most of the reasons outline in the article, he is a better bet than the other home based candidates.

    • Jeremy Lane says:

      So, what you’re saying is you’d take either Rene Meulensteen or Curtin, with RM being the preferred choice. Well, then, I’m not sure the Curtin-ripping is justified. As for RM, he’s done absolutely nothing as a head coach. And as a Manchester fan, you must admit that MU’s success was down to Sir Alex Ferguson and no one else. Ascribing that to Meulensteen is just incorrect. He has been around success, but has not generated it. Maybe he would be the better choice, but I think you’re a little blindly optimistic about his chances.

    • Name one former EPL or European coach(or assistant coach) that has done anything well in MLS. (You could name Gary Smith, but there is always an exception to every rule especially with the 2010 Rapids) They all seem to struggle. Arcane roster rules, restrictive salary caps, insane travel, playoffs, games in Texas at 1 o’clock on Saturday afternoon in the summer, shitty refs, you name your excuse but none of these guys has ever impressed anyone. To me, Meulensteen reeks of a yes man that rode someones coattails for years and now has demonstrated that he can’t cope being the head coach. Just because he has MU attached to his name doesn’t mean he know anything about coaching in MLS. I don’t know if Curtain is the guy, but I’m pretty certain that he would be a better choice than Meulensteen.

      • Come on Jack,
        You think Ferguson had the success he did by employing yes men???
        One of his biggest strengths was his ability to delegate. If there is a fear of a European coach coming in and failing, that’s fair enough, after all, we’ve ripped up the MLS ith American coaches who can deal with the shitty one pm kick offs, the travel, and everything else.
        True having Man U on his name means nothing except that to coach there for 6 seasons he must be a COACH. Do our players need a coach?? FO and Curtin as an Asst can guide him through our league.
        Or
        let’s just stick with what doesn’t work, and carry on blindly. Genius!

      • Again, name a English/European coach that has won a MLS Cup. (aside from the exception previously noted) There are none. Who knows why. Name your excuse, but that is a fact. So the Union has to take a flyer on coach that has not proven himself a success as a head coach since stepping out of the shadow of Sir Alex. As I said, I don’t know that Curtain is “the” answer. I’m still scratching my head over benching Okugo in the Open Cup final. But I’m pretty sure Meulensteen could have looked down his bench this summer/fall and magically made Pedro Ribeiro in a world class striker and sent him in for Casey just because he was and assistant coach in the EPL…not. I would take Wynalda over Meulensteen even knowing that there is a 50/50 chance of a “gloriously entertaining failure of epic proportions” At least Wynalda would know what he is in for.

      • Why are you going on about “name me one European”?? Does this mean, that at NO stage will a European ever succeed??? And to top it off, you’d take a flakey TV pundit over a guy who ok, granted hasn’t won anything yet. But, sitting on the bench to 5 EPL titles and aChampions League as opposed to a TV studio???
        No competition, but, if everything American is best in your eyes, fair enough. I’ll join you in 20 years and this argument will still be the same

      • My point isn’t that no European coach will ever succeed in MLS. I’m sure one will succeed at some point. (Let’s draft Roberto Martinez) But that a guy like Meulensteen with no headcoach success is not going to be that guy. As for Wynalda, he is an asshat, but he has played at a high level in the Bundesliga, MLS, and the USMNT, and he does have coaching experience with a nice run in the Open Cup with Cal FC, with the Silverbacks. He does know the ins and outs of US soccer.

  9. He took a dead duck at Fulham. Look at what has happened with Brondby, it looks obvious that he was not the problem. Possibly he could have done better, but no one has. That club must be a mess.
    Anzhi???? Owner lost over $500 million and is wanted by Interpol, but I guess that’s Meulensteens fault as well?
    As a Man U fan, I don’t subscribe to the success only being for Ferguson. Brian Kidd, Steve McCLaren, jimmy Ryan,Carlos Quieroz, Mike Phelan, and Meulensteen all contributed. Can’t believe anyone thinks it was 100% Ferguson.
    I don’t think its Curtin’s fault, and I do think he will do a job one day. But we are a mess, and we need a coach. Someone to improve players, or I suppose it was Ferguson who Van Persie was talking about when he called him a Jedi of coaches and not Meulensteen (journalists do after all misquote things).
    I’ve said all along, Curtin should be alongside him, he knows the league, Meulensteen knows how to coach.

  10. I like Curtin. I think, reading down the comments that there is consensus that benching Okugo those two games was bad, but not everything. However, he did have the tools I think to make the playoffs, and he didn’t.
    /
    Wynalda is a wild card. We don’t want that, give us someone with a plan and patience. (Curtin)
    /
    The European coaches probably aren’t coming, and if they did, they might not pan out.
    /
    Sounds like Curtin by default, but as a fan I want a better rationale for the decision, like, this is the best guy for the job. Oh well.

  11. OneManWolfpack says:

    I like Curtain, but I truly believe he is not ready to manage this team full time. If he is given the reigns, we will literally be having the same discussion at this time next year, about who should replace – insert name here – since Curtain was let go back in – insert month here – And we also be settling to watch the playoffs on our couches again, too.
    .
    This team needs Curtain to support an experienced tactical manager, and learn from him. Curtain would be valuable to the manager as well, to help navigate the ridiculousness of MLS, as stated multiple times above. Curtain needs seasoning, so one day he can be the man.
    .
    Of the candidates mentioned above, obviously Moyes would be #1, but that is a pipe dream. Wynalda would be Novak x100 (minus the transfer fraud stuff,I assume)… so I don’t see that working. My choice would be either: RM, Owen Coyle, or Dave Jones. I admit I don’t know a lot about these guys (most I’ve learned I have read on this site), but I say these guys because with Curtain in support, they would be in a good situation to succeed. And they would provide a fantastic resource from which Curtain could certainly learn.

  12. Can the Union send Curtin out on loan somewhere for a couple months?

  13. I think when it mattered most Jim Curtain made some pretty costly mistakes. Does that mean he can’t coach? No. What I hope is the OJT helps him to be better, cause like it or not, this is the guy who is going to coach this team next year.

  14. I could accept Mulensteen if the idea is to bring him in and be booted upstairs in two or three years to be GM. Then Curtin becomes the coach after learning from Rene….If not then why not just let Curtin be the coach. I just want a consistent lineup.

    • All along that as been my hope.
      Curtin failed, but I’ve never doubted his desire to succeed, but at 35, he has nowhere near enough experience to take on a franchise with such a poor FO. Serving an apprenticeship under a real head coach would help him out, and then when RM knows the league, move upstairs and hopefully sort the rest of this s##t out

  15. I repeat…football research says that the manager has much less effect on the success of a club than the quality of the players on the pitch. Changing managers DEFINITELY has a negative impact on the club after the initial honeymoon bump. If we bring in another new manager, we can expect another year of waiting for things to gel.
    .
    My vote is to either A) keep Curtin and invest in players, or B) splash cash on a quality MANAGER for a SHORT TERM, and move Curtin to COACH with him and Albright taking care of the MLS insider moves. After 1-2 years, make Curtin your guy.

  16. I think Wynalda would be a great choice to consider. Lets not forget that he is also worthy of commentating on UEFA Champions league play and other European competitions. He does know the game and how it should be played. I also think Mulensteen is a great option as well. He can easily learn how the MLS is run and gain that experience. He already has the experience of how to coach and construct winning teams and not to mention involved with some of the top clubs in the world. I also agree that if the FO decides to hire a new manager then Curtin should become the assistant.

    • The true bottom line is, is that the Union desperately need new players. Being a season ticket holder and analyzing the Union and our opponents, I can simply say that other teams have more than one player that have the attributes and intelligence of Nogueira. I think that is a huge problem with our team. As we have good players like Wenger, Le Toux, Gaddis, etc., these players still have horrible touch and decision making. Teams like the NY pinkcows, Seattle, and now New England, show incredible touch on the ball with simply keeping the ball to their feet. They also know how to move on and off the ball as a group, getting into space, making the clever and difficult passes in the final third. They know how to keep the ball in the final third as well. Time and time again the Union have been a disaster in creating chances in the final third this season. I could go on and on but the underlying problem with the Union is that there are not enough players with the skill set of Nogueira and with his mentality of the game. Its critical that the Union really set out to acquire players of this stature if they want to get anywhere close of being contenders in the playoffs.

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