Transcript and video: Earnie Stewart and Jim Curtin press conference

Note: Questions have been paraphrased

Opening statement from Jim Curtin

Jim Curtin: Just to reflect back on Toronto, seems like quite a while ago. Obviously, only one team’s season ends happy, and that’s with lifting MLS Cup so, obviously, we’re disappointed with the result [last week in Toronto]. A game where I felt like our guys were up for it. Came out in the first 15 minutes and matched Toronto, went toe to toe with them. Had a little bit of a mistake and then from there weathered the storm a bit, pushed the game, were able to get it back to 2-1. Had a couple of chances but, you know, if we’re being honest, Toronto on the night was a little sharper in front of both goals compared to us.

So, again, a great experience for our young guys to see the intensity of that game — even for our experienced guys — to hear them talk about how the level was raised up and ramped up, and the atmosphere. A unique environment, one that I think our players are better for having gone through. Again, we’ll learn from it and then the good thing is, the way the that Earnie [Stewart] has set things up for us, our options going into this offseason, and out targets and the players that we’d like to get after to strengthen the squad is clear cause a lot of the foundation has been laid. We have a very good core of young players now to build on and we’ll be aggressive in the offseason and we’re excited to keep working, there’s no off time for us and we’re always looking to continue to improve the squad.

Earnie, what do you think were some of the factors that were involved in the winless streak in September and October?

Earnie Stewart: I’d say expectations change during the season. And, if you could go back in time, you know, it’s weird how the brain works, we could’ve had the exact same season and then not done well in the beginning and finished very strong and then everybody would’ve been very positive about it. But it works the other way around.

I’m happy the way we started, it showed that we have a team that is a team that can function well with each other. And, I guess, toward the end of the season, you know, it has shown that we are a team that we need to play well to score easy goals. And once that does not happen, the stress on the backline becomes a little bit larger. In the beginning of the season we scored a lot of goals, during the season we sure did. We kept playing the same way, which I though was a compliment to the technical staff and the players themselves. And I’d say towards the end the stress level actually got there too. We had a young group, and we spoke about this weeks before the end of the season, where you never know how people are going to react, it’s the first time that a lot of players actually came into a playoff stretch, a playoff run to get there and, you know, the stress level hits and you never know how people react to that. The good part is that everybody’s been through it now so we can only gain from that experience as a young group, and with the foundation that we have right now, to be better in the future.

JC: To add, you know, we look and are examining trying to pinpoint what exactly it is, too, and the harder we search, and the more that we look at the data, the analytics, the games, it comes back to a variety of things. Is it losing a player, is one thing that comes up. A drop in confidence. The fact that the schedule gets a little harder; you know, six out of the last 15 were against Toronto and Red Bull. Does that factor in? Those are good teams, you know? So, all these little variables do come in. Again, like Earnie said, they’ve now gone through it, they’ve gone through the highs of being in a first place team and what that’s like and also now the lows where there was a dip at the end of the year. And there were still moments even at the end of the year where we were playing well, it just wasn’t over the course of 90 minutes. We maybe got a little — this is more from the technical side — we maybe got a little too direct and weren’t as confident and comfortable on the ball, and that led to maybe creating a little less chances [than] being a little more brave and going forward and getting goals. A combination of things, a lot of different variables that we continue to look at, to find ways to strengthen the team and have it be a situation where we’re even better and stronger next year.

The team looked tired at the end of the year. Will the two-a-day practices be re-examined? Did you think the team was tired?

ES: No, I don’t think so. I do know how it works from a player perspective, and that’s my own experience. When you win games you’re never tired. And when you lose games you’re very tired. And that’s just it. A human body can do way more than we think so I don’t believe in that, that’s not an excuse. Will we examine what we’ve done, and have we done that during the season already? Yes, because we have people in place — Garrison Draper — that looks after that. And data showed — well, you’ve been a part of a lot of trainings here at the same time — and I’d want to say two to three weeks before the Toronto playoff game, that training has been excellent, it’s been really at a high level. And that’s the part, that’s very important for Jim and the technical staff to look at. Once you see that during practice, that the level drops off and you can’t reach those peaks that we’ve had all season then, yes, I could agree with that. But, right now, no, I can’t agree with that because, once again, I think the human body can do, and adapts to, way more than people think is possible. But, first and foremost, the aggressiveness at practice, and the way we practice throughout the season was at a high-intensity level. But, once again, the brain works in a certain way too. Once you lose games, yeah, you feel everything. Once you win games, nobody’s injured, everybody’s ready to go, and everybody feels good.

JC: I would just add also, you know, we were a team that reached every level in the ground covered in games; early on, it was even less, and it grew, even at the end of the year when we were having tough results. So, he output that the players were putting in never really dipped so we won’t use that one as a crutch or an excuse, the fatigue one. Also, the big teller in that is also injuries, and we were a fairly healthy team. If you look at the injuries we sustained, they were fluke, you know, concussions here or there but it wasn’t really ever muscle pulls or big injuries in that regard. So, the Mo [Edu] break fluke, breaking his leg again, they were little strange plays that wouldn’t point or raise an eyebrow to over training. So, again, we will look at what was done in each training session, that’s also a factor, and how we can approach different things tactically, defensively, attacking — we will examine that, for sure, but to put it on fatigue? I don’t buy it and, if you even went to the players, some of them are as strong as ever. I just watched them train today and even with no motivation they still trained with the same intensity. So, still going strong.

How much of a factor was the departure of Vincent Nogueira?

ES: I mean, yeah, once start with a group and you have a certain player that has certain qualities — and Vincent’s qualities were very much on the ball and he’s very calm on the ball — yeah, do you miss that somewhat? Yeah, of course, because he was part of that group, an important part of that group. But, once again, it’s like you say, it’s next man up. And, I don’t mean that in a bad way, we can talk about that all day. Vincent was in a personal state where it wasn’t possible for him to stay, so you have to make that choice. Was it a shame at that moment? Yes. But for Vincent it was the best [thing to do] and you have to move forward.

JC: First and foremost, Vincent’s a great player, no question about it. I would add he played eight games for us this year. We played a 35-game season this year with the playoff game. And, we had a good record when he was here, we were 3-2-3. But it also needs to be said when Vincent was here and just unable to play because of an injury or something like that, we were 3-1-2 when he was here too, so we were a good team; that needs to be said, it’s not just one guy that makes it go. Again, when you have the dip in form like we did at the end of the year, we’re all looking for the reason, and want the thing that’s exactly it. Again, Vincent was a great player. Exactly what Earnie said, he gave us a calming presence in the midfield that could slow the game down and calm us down when we had leads, in particular. But we were a good team even while he was here and was unable to perform. So, there’s a little bit there, for sure. Any time you lose a player it’s unique to the locker room, yeah, it’s a factor. But, at the same time, not the only reason.

Have the rookies in the backline shown you enough to be the path forward or are you looking for veteran options?

ES: I mean, do you assess everything? Yes, for sure. But, I feel that is a very, very talented group that’s back there and, towards the end like I said and I think we said this at the beginning of the season too, young players are going to make mistakes down the road, it’s a simple as that. But, we’re going to let them make mistakes because it’s great for their experience. And as long as they don’t make them ten times in a row we’re in good shape. They’re still the same players as they were in the beginning of the season; I think they’re more experienced, they’ve been seasoned a little bit throughout this stretch that we’ve had and they’ll be back and be better. So, I mean I’m, for my part, very, very pleased when we look at Keegan [Rosenberry], and we look at [Ken] Tribbett, and we look at Josh Yaro, I have to say that’s, yeah, that’s really, really good, yep, for a first season.

JC: Yeah, I would agree. I would say that Fabinho was probably the one guy that had some MLS experience in terms of approaching the double digits — I don’t know exactly where he’s at — of around a hundred games of MLS action. The others, this was their first year starting — and that includes Andre [Blake], that includes Richie [Marquez], that includes Ken, that includes Yaro, that includes Keegan. So that’s a heck a lot of names I just said, a lot of guys that had great years. They showed, especially in the first half of the year, if you look at the goals against in that part of the year, it was about a goal per game, which is pretty darn good for a young group, so it’s in them. And, again, I think it shows…The one thing I keep coming back to. and I said to our guys from preseason in Clearwater, we were a true team. We weren’t a team that two or three guys could have a bad night and everything would go perfectly fine and we have a guy that could make one play and bail us out on a night where we’re not at our best. So, it’s never just the back four, it’s never just the goalkeeper, and we were a team in that when everybody was good and functioning, and sticking to just doing their role and responsibility that we laid out in the preseason, we were pretty darn tough to beat. So, again, that gets said a lot that, you know, we have something special, but our group was truly a team in that everybody had to have a good game for us to get results and they all believed that and they felt that. And for a lot of the year they did.

Was there a time when it would’ve made sense to maybe experiment and change up the formation, amybe add another striker when the slump started?

ES: No, I don’t believe in that in that regard and, like I said, there are certain moments in a season, and I think we’ve touched on this a couple of times, but there are certain moments in a season where things don’t go your way and you need to fall back on something. And the more you change, and the more you make it difficult, especially for young players in different formations or different tactical ways of setting up, it’s going to hurt you. And what we tried to concentrate on towards the end of the season was actually trying to take stress away and go back to those roles and responsibilities and do your job. It’s easier said than done because when you’re out there on the field and there’s 18,000 people looking at you and we’re expecting the same thing and the first pass hasn’t gone right, or we lost the last game, it becomes cloudy, and we have to make it clearer. Do I believe that with some teams, the Chelseas of this world and the Man Uniteds, that you can just change up? Yes, because they’re all seasoned veterans, they’re all seasoned pros, and it’s easy. We made this choice in the beginning of the season to do it this way. Not saying that a last ten minutes [of a game], and Jim has done that during the season, that you throw an extra center forward up, I mean, that’s…But you go back to your basics, and back to the normal part, because that’s what everybody gets their confidence from. And once you let it go and you change a lot, people don’t know what to expect anymore and what their task is. And obviously, the more that players get seasoned, get experience, you can do a little bit more of that.

JC: No, good answer, that’s exactly what I’d tell you.

There’s a lot of speculation about teams wanting to buy Andre Blake. What is your stance on that? I’m sure people calling you…

ES: No.


ES: No. So, the stance on that is once people call you can actually react to it. So, I mean, soccer’s really, really simple. And I know a lot of people don’t like to hear it or anything like that: Once an offer comes you think about it because…and you think about in certain regards. Andre’s had a great year. Would it surprise me if somebody would call and want to buy him? No, it wouldn’t surprise me. It hasn’t happened up to now and if it does happen at one point you have to look at it from a perspective of what does it do short term, and what does it do long term, for the club. And there’s always a price, it works as simple as that. Do we want to keep our best players here? Yes, for sure. But if we can go forward in selling somebody and become better towards the future, you have to look at that too. And, at most of the clubs that I’ve worked for it works that way as long as the future is bright and good.

How much does Blake graduating from Generation adidas change the thinking since now his salary is no longer not a part of salary cap considerations?

ES: Yeah, he’s earned it. He’s done well, he’s played every single game, so I understand that he’s come off of the Generation adidas and that he hits our books. And still, we’re very comfortable with him being there. So, no problem at all.

How much tweaking do you think the roster needs?

ES: Jim and I and the technical staff talk about that on a daily basis. Have we identified some spots within our team that we can get better in? Yes. And we can use an upgrade to make it easier on ourselves during the season. Yes, they are definitely there. Those are discussions that, one, we have right now amongst ourselves, and we’ve been having these for weeks and months going forward, which I think is normal. But, at the same time, we also have individual meetings with our players so I’m not really at liberty right now to say where that is or anything like that. But, for sure, yes, we do feel that we can tweak it here and there a little bit and be better.

Can you say anything about the status of some of the players with the team on loan like Anderson and Matt Jones?

ES: Yes, for those two the options will not be picked up for next year.

What are the plans going forward with Maurice Edu, an expensive player who just had a season on the bench injured?

Our plan going forward, we want Mo to be back as soon as possible and healthy. I mean, that’s the most important part. Yes, there’s a financial side, but that’s not something Jim and I worry about, it’s…I do, but Jim a little bit less. You want a good player, you want him back as quick as possible. I mean, it was heartbreaking and just devastating — first of all for Mo himself. He was doing the last practice when he was actually going to step out on to the field. I mean, that’s crazy, at that moment but, yeah, we want him back as quick as possible because he is one of those players that we can tweak our selection left and right. We have to be honest and look at it from a perspective with now, he’s part of our club, he’s an important part of our club. We haven’t been able to utilize him this season and we’ve gotta make sure in the offseason that he gets there to do that. And once he’s back, than all of the sudden it becomes a choice for Jim, and that’s how we have to approach it.

JC: Yeah, it’s just about as unfortunate a season as you could possibly have, you know? Initial timelines on…going even to rewinding back to the Open Cup right after we played the final, we thought it was just a groin; quick healing month or two that he’d miss. That led to the stress fracture in the leg, a lot longer rehab that he attacked as best he could and as aggressively as he could. Our staff did everything they could to get him back quickly. And then to have the freak breaking of the leg when he was so excited to be back with the group against Red Bull? I’ve never seen anything like it, to be honest. So, unfortunate but, at the same time, he’s a professional. He’ll get fixed as quickly as possible and attack his rehab, and we’e hoping to have him with us going right into Clearwater. 2016 is in the past and he has a clear head going into it. We all know his quality, everybody in the room knows what he brings to the table when he’s fit and healthy, so that’s what we’re shooting for for 2017.

Is there a time frame on this new injury?

ES: There is a time frame, but I’d rather stay away from it just because it puts stress on Mo to get back ASAP once again. And, yes, do we want that? For sure. But, right now, I think it’s, you know, his injury history and the last year has been…In that way I don’t think it’s smart to say anything about that.

Do you need to reevaluate anything about the way his injuries have been handled by the medical staff, with one injury leading into another and the missed time frames?

ES: Oh, yeah, also that, except that it’s, like you say, it goes from one into the other, and a lot of times you see that. If you have an injury left, you favor something else right and that might happen. I’d have to say a lot of things are very, very unfortunate, too, in the way that it went from, one, having a surgery, to it going into a stress fracture — a stress reaction first, and then a stress fracture. I mean, that has a lot to do with favoring and all that kind of stuff so it’s very unfortunate, his season is.

Is there though about him playing center back when he returns?

JC: No. And, again, the biggest thing since Earnie’s been here is we do things, from recruitment to decision making, from the inside to the out, not the outside to the in, and we’re not just going to move guys around a ton and throw them in the back. We’ve talked about Mo as being that No. 6 for us, that was our plan. It didn’t happen this year [but] that is still the plan we have for Mo when he does get back to full fitness.

Is there anything else contract wise with players that you can talk about?

ES: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Those two that we just mentioned but there are also three other players that we will not pick up their options: Taylor Washington is one of them, Cole Missimo, and Walter Restrepo. Those options will not be taken. Kevin Kratz was on loan so he’ll go back to Atlanta at one point. Who else am I missing…Charlie [Davies] and Leo [Fernandez], their contracts have run out and we will have discussions with them so that’s a little bit premature right now. And the other options that were in there and, obviously, the guaranteed guys will be back. [Note: Kevin Kinkead tweeted before the press conference, “Chris Pontius will be back in 2017, final year of contract”.]

Kevin Kratz was on loan from Atlanta United?

ES: Atlanta, yep. Yep.

Earnie, how do you evaluate Jim Curtin’s year on the bench as head coach?

ES: On the bench or in total? [laughs.]

In total 

ES: Good, no, really good. And I say that with a lot of confidence, too, at the same time. The way we set out at the start of the season, I was curious, you know, in the United States how we go about practicing, and do we go out with purpose, and Jim has exceeded those expectations in going out every single day. When we talked about roles and responsibilities as the players, yeah, you can go out and you can play games, or you can put a purpose behind everything that you do in the exercises that we have in trying to create those moments of — the angle passes that we always talk about, playing forward that we always talk about — you can say it, or you can go out and practice it. And I have to say that Jim, and his technical staff, have been excellent in that in what I’ve seen. The level of training — and that’s my form of recognition to seeing how things go — if you see the progress in the beginning of the season in our keep-away, and you see where we are right now in our keep-away game, that’s a major, major difference, and a lot has to do with the coaching staff in that. I think the beginning of the season showed that confidence level that we had, the way we can play. Do things happen during the season that we can’t reach that totally? Yeah. Do I feel that there’s open discussions about trying to tweak it left and right within our formation, within our style, within our system, in getting better and getting those results? Yeah, they’ve been there. We’ve had open, honest discussions with each other, which I think is fantastic and a very good way of working. That evaluation has been really good. I feel Jim has done an excellent job.

Matt [Bodiford] put together a list that was good for Jim, myself, but also for the technical staff. After losing, you know, it takes some energy out of you because you want to bring a championship to Philadelphia and it just, it’s gone at that moment. And, thanks to Matt, we got some energy back because it also stated team performances and individual performances this season, and I have to say that was a list that gives you energy right away again so, thank you for that, Matt.

But, seriously, there’s been a lot of accomplishment during this season, and the guy sitting to the left of me has a lot to do with that.

Have you made decisions about who to protect in the Expansion Draft? 

ES: Yeah, we will have some tough decisions to make during that process but we already feel that we have the direction that we want to go, and make sure that we keep the foundation that we set forth in the beginning of the season to keep going and thriving on that. So, yes, there will be some hard decisions, but it’s all for the future.

Earnie, how comfortable do you feel with some of the goofy player movement acquisitions that exist in MLS. Is the league ready to move on from those?

ES: Those are your words [laughs].

JC: Be careful [laughs].

I guess the question is do you see why the mechanisms are in place or does it make sense for MLS to move on from some of them

ES: A little bit of both, and I don’t want to be political about it or anything like that. We are in the United States, we do have our culture, we do have school, university, college that is very, very important for our culture so, yes, I do see a lot of those things. Do I think there are some thing s we can move on [from]? Yes, because we’re an international sport. A lot of times I hear the comparison with NFL and NBA and I don’t think that’s totally fair because NFL, it’s only in the United States, it’s not played much in the rest of the world. So, to have the same ideas about that, I don’t think is totally fair because we have a transfer system within FIFA that has a certain way. There’s international training compensation for young players that the rest of the world has and that we might have in the future — at least hopefully, because right now a kid that grows up and plays for the Philadelphia Union Academy can go to a foreign country for zero dollars, and there’s a lot of money that has been invested by our ownership group in these players and its a shame when they leave for zero.

So, political answer, yes, I think there are great things within that, and I understand those. Is there also possibility for change? Yeah, but I feel that MLS has come a great, great, and a long way since the start, since I’ve played, and its going in the right direction. And I know those discussions are going on right now with a lot of people looking at all these things and seeing what’s best for soccer in the United States and going forward. So, a political answer but, hopefully, good.

Jim, are you able to continue watching the playoffs even though the Union have been eliminated? Coaches in other sports have said it is hard to watch 

JC: I still watch every game. It is hard. I try to encourage our players to watch too just because, again, it’s a motivator, you want to be playing in these games and, again, we did get a taste of it and it was one that, to a man…From Alejandro Bedoya, who’s played in some pretty high-level intensity games, he said that was unique, you know, it was a lot. He even stayed out on the field and watched the celebration in Toronto. And, again, from a young player to an experienced player, that’s what you learn from.

I do believe in — yeah, it’s my job to continue to watch, also for the sake of recruitment and looking at players that may be could help us that are on the outside looking in on other teams. How do they respond in pressure games? So, you want to be as familiar with all those players as possible. Obviously, I love the game too, and there’s no breaks really, there’s no offseason anymore so, yeah, you continue to watch. You learn from different things that maybe other coaches even do, and you take ideas and, yeah, I would encourage our players; myself, I do watch all the games still. But, yeah, I don’t just turn it off and go golf, or anything like that. I hate golf.


  1. Kevin Kratz on loan from Atlanta??? MLS Transparency at it’s best. LOL!

  2. So Curtin stays. His sticking to the plan was good because that was the plan. Ok. They recognize they played route 1 way too much and the inexperienced (I refuse to call them young) back line wilted under pressure. But they like that it gave them experience. Is this where another P gets added to the VPP, as in Patience? Hmm. So only Leo and Davies have been offered contracts, and Kratz was a loan? huh?

  3. Interviews like this is why I didn’t buy into ES when he came in and don’t buy into him now, and why I can never buy into Curtin.
    If we started weak and finished strong, of course people would be reacting differently, because it would be very different evidence of what the team is capable of. When I watched early games, it seemed like a lot of their goals were fluky (what he called “easy goals”) – lots of defender misplays early in the season while players and teams were shaking the rust off. When other teams got their footing under them, they started to run over us. Oh, our schedule got harder because we had to play Toronto and RBNY? Those are the teams we need to beat to be a contender. If we can’t beat those teams, why bother getting interested in this team?
    More painfully, they’re doing the all-too-typical “everything we did was fine, it’s the players’ fault we didn’t win!” Take some f***ing responsibility guys. You took 2 points from your last 8 games, maybe they couldn’t handle a formation change, but maybe, ya know, give it a try. The results literally couldn’t be worse than what was happening. If a single change in formation results in everybody not knowing what they’re doing, you have a coach who is incapable of coaching. That’s inexcusable.
    If players are getting “stressed” to the point where they can’t perform, maybe we need to replace the players or get a coach that can de-stress. It’s not like other teams we played were stress-less, right? And players don’t just “magically” get better or worse. They get better with good coaching and putting in positions where they can succeed. They get worse when those things aren’t there. And sometimes, they just get better or worse almost randomly. Shit happens. You can watch the shitty NBA teams be shitty year after year because they just keep saying “well, as our young guys improve, we’ll get better!” without any reason to believe they’ll improve. Being young doesn’t automatically mean there’s positive potential.
    I should go back to not following this team. I want to love them, but they just make it so damn hard 🙁

    • Year one of a rebuild Adam S… funny how we find ourselves in this same spot and how much we will stick to the narratives we believe.
      I’m not big on the coach. This is known. Coach gets another year IMO to prove he can do it… okay, have to relent on this one.
      Beyond that… I am pleased this team went out and addressed the glaring need for leadership. After WE/I spent seasons BEGGING for quality leadership…You can’t possibly be disappointed by that sir. And you can’t possibly expect a guy who got off an airplane in February with a new first team and a new USL team and an entire academy to have all this figured out and be bowling a 300… This is how you come off…like it or not and it is already about as tiring as my narrative is to many others around here. Your problem is you simple refuse to even remotely open your mind and this is why discussing this with you all offseason sucked.
      There was an utter VACUUM of leadership on this team and to a man… every single person interviewed whether the coach, the owner the players and the academy coaches speak to the clear leadership ES is bringing. Whether that mets out in a clearly defined philosophy of play we will see but it isn’t going to happen overnight. And none of this addresses the devastating loss of Vincent Noguiera- who literally was the glue that kept the team together on the field.

      Look I get it… I’m as annoyed as you.. but you berate the team all offseason… disappear for an entire season and then magically spring up and being berating the team again as the season ends in an abysmal slide. I kept calling for integrity from you… where were you when this team clearly displayed a sophistication in style and philosophy early on?
      You know what irritates me? How The One Ring casts a pall over the entire structure of the league… to the point that upon coming back our SD is even tip toeing around questions related to training compensation and solidarity payments…. ohhhhh don’t want to piss off Don Fannuci.
      Please sir… patience. Holy Hell.

      • I guess the big difference between you and I is that you assume ES’s quality, while I want him to prove it. I’m not asking him to bowl a 300, but in my eyes, he’s thrown a whole lotta gutter balls and very few strikes. I know he had success in Europe, but we all know Europe and the MLS are very different beasts. I am open to the fact that he may be great. I am waiting for him to show a glimmer that it’s true.
        I guess I should explain my absence. I watched a few games, and what I saw was truly awful soccer games, which the Union won because the opposing goalie didn’t clean up defensive mistakes while ours did. I made a few posts over on r/PhillyUnion, but quite frankly, people don’t like hearing negatives when the results are positive. If you notice, I also didn’t come back at any point during their “19 points in 20 games” stretch. I gave it the whole season, because I wanted to see who the real Union were. I never saw “sophistication in style and philosophy” when I watched. I saw a lot of “watch opposing central defenders misplay aimless crosses into tap-in goals”. I saw a lot of incredible Andre Blake saves that never should have been needed. I never thought it could keep up, but I kept my mouth shut, because when I opened it, I was told to close it.
        I’m back because I want to have hope again. Not hope that we can finish 13th and “compete for the playoffs”. The season is uninteresting when your goal is a first round exit. If Jack down there wants to call me “not a fan” because I don’t want to watch mediocre soccer for a first round exit, so be it. I just wish that “true fans” put some pressure on this team to be more than mediocre.
        I hope Earnie shuts me up. But this is not a league that rewards patience and growing from within. It is a league that rewards bringing in the most talented players. It’s what I said last offseason, and it’s what I’ll say again this offseason. The USL and Academy stuff is nice, but it’s the outside talent you bring in that decides your fate. Hopefully Earnie does better on that front this year than he did last year.
        Adam out, but I’ll be back again…I always am.

      • Fair…but there was a definite stretch early on when Barnett and Noguiera and Ilsinho all managed to be healthy and were playing together that the ball was on the carpet… the movement off the ball was gelling, the CB were playing the simple pass first and the style was more appeasing… as for me the aesthetic matters- more than the result of the game… so to say that means something- because this team has been almost unbearable to watch.
        As for criticism…I am unwaveringly ruthless with this franchise and team…but still feel a certain amount of leeway needs to be given the Sporting Director that from jump last season you were unwilling to offer… and now conveniently are back to browbeating when things aren’t fixed. My window from the beginning was 18-24 months and we haven’t even reached a calendar year since he arrived.
        I appreciate your insights as they are pretty keen but I also struggle with your expectation a bit.

      • Late to this but there’s a lot of “all the pleasure is on this side of the table”. I was so burned out from Sak that Earnie could ritually sacrifice a puppy at midfield and I’d buy tickets (not a good puppy but one of those you don’t want, you know what I mean). I’m just holding onto the hope that Earnie is just laying down Andy Reid platitudes and will go do what needs doing.

    • Funny dialogue comes to mind. This week on “The Football Show” on Sirius with Rad Hudson and Phil Schoen. Talking about La Liga and lack of parity, etc. Phil asks Ray “Do you think fans of a 12th or 14th place team year after year will get sick of paying “hard earned money” (oh how I am sick of that phrase) to watch their team with no chance of winning a championship?

      Ray’s answer. “You’re not a fan,then”

      • Spot on.
        I argue this all the time… its about culture and connection. Not to mention in a proper pyramid the perennial 12th place team in the top division is actually the 12th best team in a sea of 400 other teams with top tier aspirations. There is honor in that and quite a bit of….
        ….you know- COMPETITION.
        For some clubs like Celta or Norwich beating Madrid or United is like a supernova explosion for the fanbase which seals their connection. Something our version of the game will never experience in its current incarnation.

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