The quasi dark side of RBNY fandom.
After searching far and wide for the better part of three months, the New York Red Bulls finally appointed a man who was under their nose the whole time to lead the team into battle this upcoming season.
Mike Petke, legend as a player and assistant under Hans Backe will take the reigns effective immediately as the new Head Coach. Will he follow in the footsteps of the likes of Guardiola and Dalglish (who were legends as players at Barcelona and Liverpool respectively) and lead Red Bulls to the championship we so crave. Or will he follow in the footsteps of Souness and Shearer, finding success a little harder to come by than it was as a player at the clubs where they were legends.
This appointment could go either way and there are some very exciting aspects, which would suggest the hiring of Petke is a good idea. Firstly, the man has been with the club since 1998 and knows the workings of the club inside out. As someone who had such stature as a player with Red Bulls he will provide an immediate lift for the club and will provide inspiration for any player walking out on to the field to give 100%. This will also have the fans on side right away.
As he has been Interim Head Coach since Backe left he will have had a say (you would expect!) in the draft choices that were made as well as the players that were let go such as Marquez, Conde, Lindpere and Palsson. With that in mind it is great that he will now be able to see the vision that he had through and take this on to the field when the season starts on March 3rd.
However, Petke’s appointment should be met with some reservation. This is his first Head Coaching job. He is not only untried as a Head Coach but his first job is with the team he loves and one whose fan base have high expectations. It is worrying that he will have to learn on the job with one of the biggest teams in the MLS. Lets be honest, we wanted rid of Backe because we wanted a MLS Cup so to go with an unknown factor in the Head Coach position is a massive risk. If results stutter throughout the season this could end up being another wasted season when we really need to take advantage of the likes of Henry and Cahill still playing somewhere near their peak.
On the subject of Henry, Cahill et al. how will Petke manage the big personalities at the club. The stereotype of the Assistant Coach is to be the ‘good cop’, the one who is friendly with the players and will put their arm round a player when needed. This transition into becoming the main man is an important one for Petke and he must get the big personalities within the team on board immediately if he is to have any success. I don’t particularly see this being a problem but it is definitely a concern and is imperative in order for the Red Bull’s to have success on the field.
Is this too much continuity? Whenever there is a managerial change it is always important that there is some sort of continuity at the club. However, making the previous Assistant Coach the new Head Coach maybe a little too much, especially when you consider Petke’s only coaching experience came under Hans Backe. You may be forgiven therefore for thinking we may see the same kind of set up that became so tiresome under Petke’s predecessor. One would hope the Petke is coming into the job with fresh ideas and will very much be his own man as a Head Coach.
I didn’t personally jump on the “we don’t want another foreign coach who knows nothing about our league” bandwagon and think that the right head coach, with the right philosophies and tactics would do well in any league. However, with Petke we do have someone who knows the league and more importantly the team very well. There is a lot to be excited about and there would be no better season to lift the MLS Cup than with Mike Petke at the helm. His appointment as Head Coach should be given every chance to succeed and approached with optimism; however, this should be cautious optimism as there are a lot of unknowns about the Head Coach as we go into the new season.