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Soccer

We Need More And Hastier Coach Firings

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In case nobody noticed, sports last week ate what kinesiologists like to call “ass.” Too many felonies, too many crackpot theories, too many officiating gaffes, too many “toxic atmospheres,” Taskmaster is off YouTube, plus the Arizona Coyotes finally won a game. Why, if it hadn’t been for the Josh Allen-Eats-Josh Allen game in Jacksonville, there would have been nothing good about the week at all. Frankly, there’s no reason at all to like the way things are heading into the holiday season.

That’s why it is time for North America to adopt to the newest craze sweeping Europe—firing the coach and flailing about for a new one. With all due respect to Barcelona, which arse-canned Ronald Koeman 11 days ago as part of its easing-into-bankruptcy campaign, the Premier League is now at five firings (out of 20 teams, a whopping 25 percent rate) in just 11 weeks and two international breaks (one firing every 17.6 days). They topped off with two in the last two days, with Norwich firing Daniel Farke after the team’s first win of the season Saturday, and Aston Villa corking Dean Smith on Sunday after a five-game losing streak.

With all due deference to the fact that firings suck for the fired, this seems like the next great market inefficiency. Nothing invigorates a disaffected fan base quite like a coach skidding on his hinder into the street, and it seems clear that the fun that the fan bases at Tottenham (Nuno Espirito Santo becomes Antonio Conte), Newcastle (Steve Bruce becomes Eddie Howe), Watford (Xisco Munoz becomes Claudio Ranieri), and Villa and Norwich (Farke becomes Beats Me and Smith turns into Gimme A Minute, Will Ya?) have had the times of their lives.

This, then, seems like the time to brighten everyone’s spirits here and start scaping some goats, and by that we mean taking out coaches before their schedules have been completed because it’s becoming harder to keep people’s attentions with off-season hirings or firings. You think San Diego spent any time mourning the end of the Jayce Tingler regime? You think anyone can identify the new manager of the St. Louis Cardinals (hint: it’s the legendary Oliver Marmol, of course)? You think anyone knows who makes tactical decisions for any baseball team any more? Firing some intern in baseball ops for screwing up a double switch when nobody was looking isn’t going to get the blood flowing.

No, it’s got to be in-season, it’s got to be splashy, and if possible, it has to be bizarre. See for example college football, which as an industry is figuring this new entertainment stream out on the fly. Nine coaches have already been introduced to the street, and one of those nine, USC’s Clay Helton, already has a new job at Georgia Southern. Ed Orgeron will be gone at LSU only 22 months after winning a national championship (don’t flirt with powerful people’s wives while losing to UCLA seems to be the message here). Gary Patterson was told he wasn’t being re-upped at TCU for 2022 and quit on the spot. Matt Wells was fired at Texas Tech after blowing a two-score lead to Kansas, of all teams. Randy Edsall resigned (or more accurately, WAS resigned) at Connecticut one day after announcing he would retire at the end of the season. And in the high point of making conversation on fan sites, Washington State fired Nick Rolovich and four assistants for not getting the vaccine, and Rolovich in particular for acting like a three-cheeked ass about it.

Now THIS is what we’re talking about, rather than the three NWSL coaches who have been fired for sexual misconduct and caused the league’s players to refuse to play while the league tries to get its crap together. No NBA coaches have been fired yet (though I wouldn’t bet big money on Frank Vogel staying throughout if the Los Angeles Lakers miss LeBron James for any extended period of time), but that’s probably because seven coaches got got at the end of last season. Jeremy Colliton got the slip with the Chicago Blackhawks because the team chose to be very poor simultaneous with a decade-old sexual abuse case the front office contrived to hide. Colliton wasn’t connected in any way to the scandal, but nobody from the regime that hired him was there to save him from a 1-9-2 start, either.

But the template is there for all of them, and that includes the NFL, where the ranks of the disaffected grow with every passing decision to punt on fourth-and-eight or less. In fact, the market may already be correcting itself, as Manchester United has refused to fire Ole Gunnar Solskjaer despite a near-unanimous feeling, even among people who like him and refer to himin the most glowing personal terms, that his time has come. Hilariously, one of the reasons given for Man U’s inaction is that there doesn’t seem to be a very deep or impressive crop of available managers. Between that and the Mets, who couldn’t give a job away even if it were bubble-wrapped in money, we may already be exhausting the supply of available replacements in the one crop that has always provided ample options.

In other words, there’s no time to waste. Chelsea leads the Prem and the Golden State Warriors are 9-1, which means that Thomas Tuchel and Steve Kerr need to be whacked tout suite. Clearly, we can’t wait until coaches start losing any more, because nobody wants to get caught short with supplies this low.