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Soccer

You Can Always Rely On Soccer’s Coaching Carousel To Produce Humiliations And Threats Of Violence

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There are still those among you who don’t get the soccer thing, and we are not here to proselytize. You like it, you don’t like it, you’re indifferent to it … makes no nevermind to us. We’re drunk, anyway, so our ability to muster up a good argument is limited by our concentration limitations.

But this much is certain: soccer is better because it offers far better coaching firings, vacancies and hirings, and fans either get to have their say or have their laugh. They’ve already destroyed the enormous greed brothel that was the Super League with the power of their feet and middle fingers, so they deserve all the offseason entertainment they can steal.

Example: The best American coaching hire this year was Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell letting fans know he is cool with biting other people’s kneecaps off in search of victory. Big deal. Happens all the time. It’s football, and knees are scratch paper in an iPad world. But in England, where daft is coin of the realm, we have two Premier League teams who doing the coaching thing properly … as in totally bughouse.

At Tottenham, the Hotspurs and their owner, Lead-Lined Wallet Danny Levy, can’t seem to get anyone to take their managerial job. They’ve plowed through seven candidates since iron-booting Jose Mourinho in April (he ended up at Roma) and either found them wanting or vice versa. The latest of these is former Woverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espiritu Santo, who even without the Joe Thorntonian beard still has the best name in coaching.

Now imagine a coaching search going two months in America and lopping off the first seven interviewees. Hell, before that would ever happen, Dan Campbell would spit out that patellar tendon he’s been gnawing on and signed up immediately. Over the last weekend, the Indiana Pacers re-hired Rick Carlisle and the Dallas Mavericks, who had chucked Carlisle into the street, hired former Mavs player Jason Kidd, while the Portland Trail Blazers locked into Chauncey Billups for a five-year deal barely three weeks after Terry Stotts got run. None of those of those vacancies stayed vacant very long, because owners gotta own, and part of owning is hiring other people to do the up-front work.

Nobody here leaves a coaching job vacant for two months, let alone gets turned down by people without gigs. In America, the illusion is that there is no coaching job so bad that there wouldn’t be people lined up to get it at dimes on the dollars. At Tottenham, the rule of thumb is purely Grouchovian: “Anyone who would work for us is someone we wouldn’t want to hire.”

And then there’s Everton, where the chosen best candidate, Rafa Benitez, has the fan base up in arms to the point of terroristic threats. At least one fan made a sign that reads, “We Know Where You Live. Don’t Sign,” and placed it somewhere near Benitez’s home. Many others have protested Benitez’s apparent hiring on the interwebs for any number of reasons, including his style of play, his Droopy Dog-level mopiness of posture, and the notion that he has coached at Everton’s archest of rivals Liverpool. Indeed, popular former manager Carlo Ancelotti’s departure four weeks ago for Real Madrid has only reminded Everton fans of all the things they don’t want, they’re fairly pissed about it, and there is reason to believe that they’ll stay pissed for months to come.

The assumption with American fans is that whoever did the hiring knows what they’re doing, despite Matt Patricia and Nate Bjorkgren and the New Jersey Devils’ gaggle of genii (Adam Oates, Scott Stevens and Lou Lamoriello in tandem) in 2015. In England, at least, the immediate assumption is that management are either ditherers or morons because, well, their fans do not grade on a curve, let’s just say that.

Ultimately, the year in soccer has been brilliantly chaotic because every year in soccer is brilliantly chaotic. Just bingewatch the Euros, and you’ll get all the infodata you need without pretending that offseason workouts matter (they don’t), even before you get to Spurs or Everton making a hot lead hash of their basic hiring practices: “Do we take a guy everyone hates for no discernible reason, or do we go with nobody at all?”

Or you can live with what we do—fetishizing general managers who all have the same idea dressed up in different colored polo shirts, and then hire any old coach the highest paid player is willing to tolerate. Frankly, I think we’d all prefer the job vacancy that never gets filled, or is about to come open when the fans drive the new guy out, because all things considered, the best boss is always an empty chair with a clean desk.

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