"There are only two types of manager. Those who've been sacked and those who will be sacked in the future." – Howard Wilinson
Our Rapids finally signed off on the worst kept secret in MLS. On Saturday Team President Tim Hinchey informed the C38 fans (and I suppose other somewhat interested Rapid fans, wherever you might be) that Pablo was his man. At this point in the season, I won’t even pretend to understand why it took so long and how a professional sport’s team waits until a week before its season begins to name a manager. Whatever the reasons, it’s time to put aside complaints, support the Club, and move on.
Pablo Mastroeni now becomes the team’s 7th manager (or 8th if you consider Roy Wegerle and the one game he managed in 1996). Having made 225 appearances as a Colorado Rapid from 2002 – 2013, Pablo now takes the reins.
In my opinion, Pablo is now in the worst possible spot. Last year, the Rapids took a huge step forward. With a very young team, they probably overachieved. With this core coming back, it is anyone’s guess how this team will perform - with or without a new coach. Pablo will get a free pass for the first couple months of the season, but with the fan and management expectations for our team, I don’t expect he will find the same open arm love fest if the team is tanking come June.
With an incredibly tough schedule out of the gate @NY, POR, KC,@VAN, @TOR, SJ, @SEA, LA, @SJ, and CHV, I can see the Pablo era getting off to a rough start. What then would be a good start? Below are the first season records of the previous managers followed by their overall Rapid coaching mark
|Bobby Houghton / Roy Wegerle||1996||1996||11||21||11||21|
|Fernando Clavijo / Gary Smith||2005||2008||13||13||6||44||53||27|
Fortunately hiring a previous MLS player is not something new in the league. Below are the records of some former players and their first year managerial debut.
Kind of a mixed bag. Somewhat ominous that the average record of 10-13-9 is very close to what the "experts" are picking the Rapids to finish at 11-14-9 and the average first year for Rapids coaches of 11-16-7.
Ultimately all of these number are meaningless. Also, in my opinion, the man on the side line, whoever he may be, is not all that meaningful. Sure the world is full of "managers", "bosses" and whatnot. I would say most of the time that person is simply the face of the franchise, a rallying cry or perhaps a butt of jokes. In the end, the outcome of the business is rarely due to their influence. Once the whistle blows, the ebb and flow of a football match becomes a somewhat random action of moving parts. And sometimes just pure luck whether the team succeeds or not. Talent is important, speed is important, understanding tendencies is important, but in the end sometimes it’s the randomness of the match that allows an inferior team to win out regardless of the manager. Just ask Peter Vermes about last weekend’s match in Seattle.
Rapids have a new manager, that box has been checked. He isn’t an unknown face. He has instant credibility and respect. This weekend he will trot out onto the pitch in a suit, without any colorful boots, and stand on the sideline willing the ball into the net. I am sure he feels he could be out there but he needs to not think too much, let the match run its course, and answer the questions after it’s over. We as fans will debate his game management, his preparation, his substitutions, but in the end, the eleven wearing the Burgundy will succeed or not regardless of Pablo or anyone else.
To me a manager has to understand the grind that is the seven month MLS season, the ups and downs, and which games matter. If anything, Pablo has been there and understands the seasonality of the MLS. He will someday be sacked, but at least for now he’s one of us. He’s a glorified cheerleader, with as much chance of changing the outcome on the pitch as we do. He’s now one of the biggest fans, let’s hope the players give him something to cheer about.