Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November 1st, No Manager Yet

For the last 6 weeks or so the Rapids have talked about their goal of having a manager in place by November 1st.  Well the 1st has come and gone and no manager and only one real rumor (we'll get to that in a moment).

Now I don't think missing this date is a big deal yet.  There's really not a ton a manager could do for the next couple of weeks.  Obviously every minute of time the manager can spend in the job is a good thing, but until after MLS Cup all the new guy can do is evaluate the current roster, tell Smith what type of players to look for, and generally put dominoes in place for when the season ends and moves can be made.    All of that is obviously important, if this new "Rapids Way" is as coordinated as Smith is portraying it he can do a lot of that initial work himself while he negotiates with the targeted candidate.

That only gets us so far though.  MLS Cup is scheduled for Dec. 9th.  With Thanksgiving week generally being useless for getting work done in any office anywhere (not just soccer) the new manager needs to be in place in the next two weeks, give or take.  Which brings us to the one solid rumor we've seen about the position, New Zealand Nats coach Anthony Hudson.  Coincidentally, the Peru-New Zealand playoff for the final World Cup spot is on November 11th (in NZ) and Nov 15th (in Peru).  Just about the time the Rapids really need to have a manager...

I've dug around a little bit looking at Anthony Hudson.  What I've found hasn't made me jump off a cliff, but I'm also not floored by him as a candidate either.  Hudson was born in Seattle (fellow Seattleite!) but grew up in England as he's the son of Chelsea great Alan Hudson.  He was in West Ham's youth system to start but after bouncing around England and the Netherlands for a couple of years he got his only senior appearances (all 10 of them) as a midfielder with the Wilmington Hammerheads between 2006 and 2008.  This is hardly a knock against him though as some of the best coaches (Wegner for example) had minimal playing careers.

What is a bit of a concerning knock is his coaching career.  After retiring as a player to go into coaching he immediately took over the PDL Real Maryland Monarchs for 3 seasons.  He then jumped over to England to be a coach for Tottenham's reserve team and then coached non-league side Newport County from April to September when he got bounced after getting one win in the first twelve games of the season.

It was at that point he was tapped to take over Bahrain's U23/Olympic team and then a year later the full national side.  During this year he spent time with Mourinho at Real Madrid and Bielsa at Bilbao.  He coached the U23's to the win at the 2013 U23 Gulf of Nations tournament, the first tournament win in Bahrain's U23's history.  He was rumored to take over Denmark in October of 2013 but eventually took over as New Zealand manager in 2014.  While manager of the All Whites he reportedly turned down the MK Dons job in England and was linked with jobs at Norwich City and Derby County (he denied ever being approached by Derby).

When you add all that up you would see a significant hole in his resume.  For all his experience he's never managed a full professional club side.  The Monarchs were an amateur side, Newport was a semi-pro side and National sides are very different entities than club teams.  One thing I said going into this search was that I didn't want a 4th straight coach learning how to do the job.  This would be a bit different than Pablo/Pareja/Smith in that he has been the "top man" at a number of places dealing with professional players but its still not the same as running a pro club day in and day out for a 34 game season.

The good news is that his players for New Zealand praise him for bringing a new level of professionalism and advances to the team.  He also holds a UEFA Pro coaching license which is no easy thing to get.  He seems passionate and dedicated not only to his teams but also to improving himself in whatever way possible.  I think if he really is the leading candidate, as I'm hearing from secondary sources, its his focus on the system and process that won over Smith and co. even if his experience doesn't quite map to the hope the fans had.

1 comment:

Mark Weatherley said...

I'm willing to give Pádraig a pass on the NOv. 1 "deadline." What matters is getting the right guy, and if that tales a few more weeks so be it.

I've stated multiple times that Pádraig doesn't operate like his predecessors at the Rapids. Once he took the rains in July it seems that he started to move things along - his first act was firing Pablo. I doubt that the Hinchey/Bravo would have done this.