The quasi dark side of RBNY fandom.
The long agonizing search for the New York Red Bulls head coach is finally over and to everyone’s surprise, they pretty much got it right. The team named fan favorite Mike Petke as the head coach, lifting the interim tag he’s held since Hans Backe’s dismissal.
The hire makes sense for a number of reasons. You have to figure Petke has been involved in all player personel moves made this offseason. The big fear until today was that Roxburgh was making all these moves without input from a head coach. Hiring Petke eliminates the potential clash of bringing in a coach who has no use for Fabian Espindola, Jamison Olave, or Juninho. Petke’s been familiar with the players from Day 1.
Making Petke the permanent head coach in November would not have been the right move (I’ll get to his flaws in a bit), but after the drawn out search turning up empty and with the season only about 5 weeks away, it just makes sense to give the reins to the guy who’s been there all along, avoiding a culture shock so close to the season.
The man is also a bonafide leader. In 2010, when it became apparent that the Red Bulls backline was better with a Tim Ream-Carlos Mendes centerback pairing, Petke humbly stepped aside and did what was best for the team. Also from his assistant coaching days, anyone can see from his halftime or postgame interviews with Tina Cervasio that he doesn’t mince words, he tells it like it is. He perfectly represents that New York attitude that this team needs, being born and raised in the area.
However, as I said, the man doesn’t come without flaws. He’s painfully inexperienced. Not too long ago, by his own admission he said he wasn’t ready for the job. Not exactly something you want to hear from the man expected to bring silverware to Harrison. Jason Kreis and Ben Olsen both made the quick turnarounds to coaching success, but not without growing pains. It would be wise to surround Petke with experienced MLS assistants.
Two available possibilities, who also happen to have head coaching experience are Robin Fraser and John Spencer. Both were respected assistants before becoming head coaches. Though they both failed at the top job, even failure yields invaluable experience.
In the end, Andy Roxurgh, a man with decades of experience in the sport saw something in the guy he spent the last couple of months working alongside. Whether Petke, was the third, fourth, or fifth choice, Roxburgh’s endorsement must count for something. At the very least, being a fan favorite buys Petke a great deal of time to learn, quieting the “That’s so Metro” Debbie Downers for a few months, and that’s fine by me.