Sunday, April 30, 2017

Reasonable Next Steps From The Front Office

Yesterday's game was more of the same.  Well, actually it was less since we allowed above our average in goals (now 1.57/game), scored below our average in goals (.71/game), and had below our average in shots on goal (2.28/game).

The Front Office needs to take action right now.  This is still MLS and soccer in America so our expectations should be reasonable, but realistically what moves the FO should make starting today and into next week? We've got a coach that just threw the season under the bus, a team that has literally no offense at this point, and a 6 game winless streak. What's our next move?

Obviously I'm just a fan on he sidelines and I don't know all the limitations that the Front Office has on it.  But based on my knowledge of how MLS and the Rapids work, what the costs are of making changes. and reasonable time frames, here are my suggestions:
  • Prepare a statement to release tomorrow explaining what the plan was for this season, why its not working, and what steps are now going to be taken to recover
Honestly this probably should have been done already but really needs to be done now.  Everyone makes mistakes.  The key is to show you've learned form them and made changes so the mistake doesn't happen again.  Normally saying that you've done that is enough for an outsider but the Rapids have claimed to have done this many times and the results haven't changed.  Now they need to be open with us about what they've learned and what's going to change, just saying you've figured out isn't enough.
  • Announce that they will immediately start a search to hire a quality GM/TD within the next month. That new person will be given full freedom (and responsibility) for all on-field planning including staff, coaches, players, and the youth academy
Really until this happens, nothing else matters.  The history of this team after the leadership change in the 2011-12 offseason has been two playoff appearances and one series win.  Outside of those two years the other three seasons have been among the five worst in team history, and this season is currently looking like its going to end up in that pile.  Clearly things aren't working.  The FO has always been less than transparent about what responsibilities the Technical Director (Bravo), the Sporting Director (Smith), and the head coach (Pareja/Pablo), really have  Its time to give one person the power to set this team right.  KSE needs to be willing to spend to get a quality competent person to fill this role.  The one exception from giving this person full control would be a DP-level player that KSE would have to pay extra for.  It would be completely reasonable for somebody above this position to have final say on a signing like that, but their decision-making should be focused on the financial health of the transaction, not the on-field health.
  • Announce that the futures of the technical staff, including Smith and Pablo, will be determined by that person.  Smith should be considered for the position but since the goal of this hire is to hit the reset button his current employment by the Front Office shouldn't give him any particular advantage over any other candidate
The first step in getting this train back on the tracks is to have one leadership team going in the same direction.  Its not fair to whomever is going to make the on-field decisions to be saddled with the keeping or firing of a coach before they get here.  The new person needs to make the call, even if that means Pablo continues to run the team for a few more games.
  • Tell the fans honestly that in light of this plan it makes no sense to try to make a major move now before the window closes without this person in place. Recognize that this means this season is probably toast but also tell the fans that this new person will have the ability to make whatever moves are necessary in the summer window to stabilize this team for the future
Again, much like the staff decision, the new leader needs to put the team together, not be stuck with a major player contract that doesn't fit his direction.  The Front Office needs to commit to making significant moves in both the summer and new winter transfer windows to support this new direction though.
  • Announce a rebate policy for current season ticket holders. Something like everyone gets $100 back in cash or credit towards the 2018 season ticket purchase (ticket holder's choice)
With this season lost practically before it started the fans were sold a bill of goods.  There were multiple reports of fans being told the goal this season was a trophy and unfinished business from 2016.  Instead Pablo at least believes this season is about rebuilding.  In order to gain some trust and respect back from the fanbase the FO needs to take the financial hit and make good to the people that make this club a priority in their life.  By allowing a credit to be applied to next year's tickets it reduces the immediate financial hit of giving a refund and gets those fans to buy in for 2018.
  • Announce that season tickets next year (for one year only) will be reduced by a percentage equal to the difference between our 2016 and 2017 point total. So if we finish with 31 points this season compared to 58 last year season tickets would be reduced by 27%
I picked this idea up from a Burgundy Wave poster.  This is as much a gimmick as anything else but it would be an olive branch to fans, it would generate some positive PR for the unique deal, and it would at least be a silver lining on what looks to be an awful 2017 season.  It would also be an incentive for everyone in the organization to continue to do as good as possible this season as every point is a 1% increase on the ticket revenue next season.

Now obviously I don't expect the Rapids to do all of these.  With my viewpoint from outside the organization these probably seem easier than they really are.  Honestly I'd be surprised if something similar to more than 1 or 2 of them actually happen.  If the Rapids really want to change the conversation though, this checklist would go a long way with the fanbase.


jjimluk said...

maybe Tim Leiweke... haha.

Brad48 said...

I was the one who mentioned that they should moderate the price of 2017 season tix based on the % decline in the point total.

Only problem I see, is you could end up with quite the reverse incentive where the entire stadium is rooting for Rapids to lose every game (especially when most fans realize this season is shot).

In regards to the sporting director, I could be wrong, but I thought Padraig Smith was effectively being given that role, since Bravo was fired (sorry - contract not renewed) since his only effective DP signing was Tim Howard, and he filled a position we did not need to fill (keeper).

The Front Office needs to do some serious work to regain trust among most Season Ticket Holders. Sure, there are some die-hards and families where they may head out regardless of the product on the field. But I am guessing most of the STH who signed on over the last few years are not going to stick around after this.

I know quite a few who can easily find better ways to spend their weekend evenings and entertainment dollars. They cannot possibly expect to charge the same prices next year and keep a season ticket holder base.

What is worse, is this is peak Millennial interest in soccer. The Rapids brought on a lot of new fans, and the type of fans that we want at the Dick. How many is this FO permanently turn-off because of this?

I would add that beyond shoring up leadership, Pablo needs to be fired. This team needs a change in culture, and in general, even if symbolic, at the very least a sense that a new approach is arriving, and maybe it will help change the confidence of some of the few remaining players who have not yet completely tuned Pablo out.

Jason Maxwell said...

Brad48, I agree that Pablo needs to be fired but it needs to be done by the new leadership, not the current one. There needs to be a clean break with the past and the new direction needs to make all the decisions.

Brad48 said...

Front Office -

Well, this team is not going to truly have a clean break without getting rid of Tim Hinchey. Yes, he is the business side of this, but he is also above whoever takes over as Technical Director. Under Hinchey, this team has not held or maintained a consistent vision and approach, often due to the concerns of Hinchey that he cannot sell this dreck of a soccer team to the general public.

Jason Maxwell said...

Some might consider that the elephant in the room Brad48. ;)