Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bob Bradley - so much to answer for?

An English take on the American dilemma

Bob Bradley might be fired tomorrow and if he is I cannot say I would be wholly surprised following that embarrassing surrender in the Rose Bowl. US Soccer has lofty ambitions, which is noble, but Rome was not built in a day.

With no Confederations Cup to plan for, the World Cup is the next major international competition on the horizon in 2014, so there is plenty of time to start afresh with a new man. Yet with no obvious alternatives, it would seem like another gamble.

The USA are 24th in this month's FIFA World Rankings. That sounds bad but never put too much faith in that list - England are fourth for goodness' sake. But although we are approaching a decade since the States almost reached the last four of the World Cup, we still seem to be stuck in an eternal dawn of that new age.

A second-round defeat in South Africa was an advance of sorts over 2006, but given the manner of the latest failure to win the Gold Cup, should US Soccer call time on Mr. Bradley? On the face of it they should, as results are the be-all and end-all.

But it does not make perfect sense to me. 'Sack the manager' is about the oldest refrain in the game. A short-term remedy and not a long-term panacea for an ailing patient, it absolves the players of blame but more importantly lets the team owners off the hook.

Any change of coach will still have to overcome the US' biggest obstacle - a lack of strength in depth. Take out the first eleven and you have a side which struggles in most positions. When Steve Cherundolo made way for Jonathan Bornstein last Saturday, green acres sprung up on Mexico's right flank. And Eric Lichaj and Clarence Goodson showed none of the nous of the US' more experienced defenders as El Tri ran in goal after goal. The best American players are nearer 30 than 20 and that is a problem.

Michael Bradley right now is not the lethal weapon in the middle he should be, but who do you replace him with? I like Stuart Holden but he is no Mesut Ozil, Wesley Sneijder or Steven Gerrard. Lose Landon Donovan and/or Clint Dempsey and then who can they meaningfully attack with? The US talent pool just is too shallow - and that is the elephant in the room.

The American playing system is also in danger of becoming an albatross before long. 4-4-2 is the easiest and safest shape to use and one that everyone understands quickly. There is nothing inherently bad about it. But in South Africa, 4-2-3-1 clearly surpassed it, allowing more natural passing triangles and fluid interplay as well as an effective double shield-wall in front of goal. And the system which beats them all is Spain's tiki-taka, which has bagged more gold in three years than the Conquistadors did in a century.



I would love to see the US, or England, play tiki-taka, but they just cannot with their current generation of players. So a good coach picks a system for his team and not vice-versa. Bradley has to be fair tried 3-5-2, 4-5-1 and 4-3-3, but with unimpressive results, while a robust 4-4-2 seems to suit the hard-working and athletic style which is the American norm.

Watching England's Under-21 side at UEFA 2011 in Denmark this month show the same depressing shortfalls in intelligence and technique (two of the Dutch 'TIPS' criteria) which we have been lamenting for years, I was sure that any revolution has to begin in the youth ranks. The US has largely the same handicap, for which you might blame generations of British coaches and a common language: We both suffer from a dearth of creativity and technique and too much emphasis on pace and power, especially at schoolboy level. Spain have lit the way ahead and we should follow them.

I was listening to Ray Wilkins the other night claim that you can teach technique to mature footballers, but I was not convinced. So if the Under-21 level is too late for a sea-change, what can a national team coach do about his half-empty toolbox? Make the most of what he has already.

To me the boss is not the big issue. I have watched a ton of England managers come and go with largely the same results. Chelsea have had eight different coaches in seven years and still have not won the Champions League.

Simon Kuper & Stefan Szyminski argued in their fascinating book, 'Soccernomics', that the guy in charge is far less important than the money spent on the team. If that were true with national sides then Fabio Capello's astronomic salary would have won England the World Cup. For those teams, they ascribe success to a formula comprising population, GDP and soccer heritage, which is harder to quantify. And if their last chapter is to be believed, the US will win the World Cup anyway one day, so we need not fret forever.

Guus Hiddink did play in the NASL thirty years ago and could possibly do a South Korea or an Australia for the States, but could US Soccer outbid the likes of Chelsea to his signature in the first place?

I have always liked Bradley I confess. I like his serious approach, that icy and belligerent face he wears on the touchline and his 24/7 approach to team camps (confirmed to me by some of the players). I like the way he speaks candidly and helpfully to the media, a refreshing change to Bruce Arena's condescending attitude. But of course, it is only the scores which count at the end of the day.

Beating Spain in 2009, when Bradley proved he can be tactically shrewd, has been quickly forgotten in the wake of the Gold Cup final, confirming the old adage that you are only as good as your last game. We might also be undervaluing what could well be the best Mexican team in years.

These troughs can happen to all nations, especially in the aftermath of World Cups, but there is no need to panic. If the worry is that not enough good players are pushing for selection and that the famous Hispanic seams of talent have still to be mined, then that is something US Soccer, not the national team coach, must address.



Until MLS evolves and the college system ceases to be the primary feeder for the professional game, the unique American system demands someone with some insider knowledge at its apex. You can learn that. Jurgen Klinsmann has, although I was never convinced he was the man for the job, and nor was he it seems given his withdrawal from the international coaching market. In any case, Klinsi falls out with his bosses sooner or later. Aron Winter has the international CV; maybe he can match that with domestic wisdom before too long. Either that or pick Jason Kreis and hope for the best as a player's coach steps up to a much higher level.

In the meantime, overhaul the youth systems with a Project 2022 and make Bob live over here, say in London or Amsterdam where some of us can doorstep him easily.

Let Bradley squeeze the best out of the current crop until 2014 and then he can exit graciously after another hard-fought last-16 exit. What happens after that is out of his hands anyway.

And if he is gone by the time you read this, good luck to his successor. He will need it.

- Sean O'Conor, London

25 comments:

Greg Seltzer said...

Of course, this post is awesome... but one teensy semantics quibble.

Bradley has only seriously "tried" a 4-3-3 once (and at the wrong time, seeing as how we got smashed 3-0 at Costa Rica).

He's given faux service to it with essentially two halves of that set with the B team in 5 years - and in one of those halves, it was mangled by the attack spacing with the wingers tucking inside the whole time.

Bradley has not properly used a textbook winged 4-3-3 since the second half of his first game in charge against a Denmark B side.

The 4-2-3-1, of course, is essentially the middle morph point between his beloved(?) empty bucket and a 4-3-3. And you're right that at this time, perhaps the 4-2-3-1 is our best way to evolve.

Will said...

I agree that Bob only has a certain depth of talent to manage at the moment, and a sexier, big-name manager isn't going to change that. However, there are some real issues around this team that we've seen pop up time and time again.

1) His tactical approach is rarely spot on from the start of a game, and he usually doesn't get it right until after a goal has been scored by the opposition or 1-2 subs have been made (and many times the guys coming off and the same ones we all cringed about when the lineups were posted).

2) The team too often starts the game in lackadaisical fashion, many times conceding the first goal. Are we incapable of getting up for a big game? Is his stoicism a part of this problem. From the videos I've seen of his pre-game talks, no wonder we're asleep during the first 15 minutes of games.

3) He doesn't manage within a style or philosophy, but rather seems to generate purely reactionary plans based on a game by game basis. This for me is a major issue as the limited time in camps means there needs to be a stronger backbone that can, in turn, be adjusted for tough vs weak opponents (Spain vs El Salvador, for example). Creating a style of play is critical in my mind as we look to build a talent pool that can feed the progress we seek.

4) Poor, poor decisions. Bornstein on when Cherundolo went down? How many times do we need to go through this? I have to imagine even Sunil was wondering, "WTF, Bob?"

5) Over-analysis: I wonder, although this is purely speculative, if Bob over-analyzes the game. It seems, through the limited access we gain as fans, that Bob spends a considerable amount of time working with the guys developing reactionary tactics (i.e. this is what they do so this is what we'll do), and goes down to the deepest details of the game. While I can see the value of this as part of preparation, I would rather see a coach develop his team's style of play first. This is partly connected to point 3 above.

6) And lastly, we need someone who will give poor Greg his 4-3-3, with compelling, proper wingers, some proper training within the 'total' system, and some friendlies in which to test it.


But I will say this about Bob. He knows the pool isn't deep, and he's not afraid to give younger guys a run out if they are in form. That's something we definitely need to maintain if we replace him.

Greg Seltzer said...

Frankly, I don;t buy into all this "we don't have world class player or depth" stuff.

The proper issue question is: Has Bradley's gotten the full potential out of this team? Could they have done better than they have?

My answers remain "no" and "hell yeah". Even champions have flaws and weaknesses to point out when not hitting on all cylinders.

For now, I'm cool with the 4-2-3-1. Our winger situation is not optimum at the moment. A few years ago Donovan and Dempsey could do it, now not quite.

We shall wait until the whole Gatt/Wood/Zahavi/Gyau/etc axis develops to try 4-3-3 properly again.

Matt said...

I believe that's a Smiths reference in the title. If so, nice.

I'd love to see Kreis get a shot at some point, but seems a little premature for now. But, more to the point, I agree with Greg. BB is willing to take tactical risks, but they always seem to play out in one half of one game. Until we get a sense of how the team plays in the 4-2-3-1, or 4-3-3 for an extended period of time we just won't know if it changes the results.

I don't think BB goes unless we lay a couple of eggs in qualifying.

Sean O'Conor said...

Well spotted Matt ;)

Bradley is a bit 'staccato' as a coach, but I'm not sure how he could develop a new style with far-flung players for a few days at a time.

It is hard to change ingrained national habits. The only time England succeeded in doing so was briefly with Terry Venables in Euro 1996. Maybe only great coaches can do that.

But Bob has to try.

SPA2TACU5 said...

Yes the player pool lacks depth. Mainly because it has no high peak. (pools don't have peaks but oh well)

Three players have been at European top clubs: Donovan, Onyewu and Tim Howard. Not one of them has been able to impress.

A national team coach is not in a position to develop a fancy tiki-taka or total-football philosophy if he hasn't got the players for it.

The most successful teams play one system with the same starters and stick to it for a longer period of time.

Bradley however has to select and play different names every other game while trying to fit in new faces.

So we shouldn't be talking about Bradley's position and the USMNT's systems and performances - which in my opinion have been very decent,
but about the development of US soccer players ages 4 to 22.

Where do kids learn to play soccer and how? Who teaches them? What are they being taught? Is the pool of top talents growing? If not, why not? Are enough players moving to the European top leagues as starters? Why not? Is there a good infrastructure for talent to develop and move up the ladder? If not, why not? Are American coaches developing? Is the number of qualified coaches growing? What is their soccer philosophy? Etc.

Greg Seltzer said...

Okay, I have seen a lot of lists of this manner, with reasons and excuses why this and that isn't possible or reasonable for the USMNT, which somehow means that there's no point to finding a different coach. Frankly, it's kinda driving me batty.

I may drop a full column on how I see the situation as a whole, but I just for now want to answer to a few of the points you've made:


"Yes the player pool lacks depth."

This is easily the deepest USMNT player pool ever. Just sayin'.



"Three players have been at European top clubs: Donovan, Onyewu and Tim Howard. Not one of them has been able to impress."

The first two weren't really given much chance in bad/unlucky situations, and Howard has an FA Cup medal and PFA Team of the Year award on his mantle.

And none of this really matters when they suit up for the USMNT anyway.



"The most successful teams play one system with the same starters and stick to it for a longer period of time."


You mean like Brazil, Spain, Argentina, the Netherlands?

Yeah, we clearly are not there yet and the path we're taking now clearly isn't getting us there. We can't just say, oh let's make line-ups how Brazil does it, mainly because Brazil has enough star players for four A-teams.



"So we shouldn't be talking about Bradley's position and the USMNT's systems and performances - which in my opinion have been very decent,
but about the development of US soccer players ages 4 to 22."


Okay... we can talk about youth development all day everyday, but that is a different topic. Identifying problems with youth development is a dodge when discussing the senior side.

And if the senior side is performing well below max capability for extended time, regardless of what expectation an individual may have of what the team should be accomplishing, discussing the coach, the selection, the tactics and everything else is as fair play and worthwhile as it gets.

In my opinion, the team is falling well short of reaching its CURRENT potential and that is issue #1 above all others. I'm tired of hearing reasons why we can't or won't or shouldn't replace Bradley, and especially that we shouldn't even be talking about it.

We should be talking the crap out of about it. The team is regressing, despite adding some new and exciting pieces over the last couple years. It's a real problem and we can't sit on our hands with a big list of excuses for three years because it might be hard or risky.

Fortune favors the bold. And champions don't make excuses, even if they are legit. That's how I feel.

SPA2TACU5 said...

The US has millions of soccer players yet not one has ever developed into a top player.

A few have reached sub top level. Not one has won a big league's championship.

I think the cause of it is the youth development/college system.
And I think the level of quality translates into the performances of the USMNT.

The US will beat the Ghana's, Nigeria's, Slovenia's, Japan's and Norway's on a good day. Fifty-fifty odds.

Too many mediocre players who can not consistently perform at the top (which isn't very high in some cases - ie. DeMeritt) of their ability.

It has nothing to do with systems and tactics.

Greg Seltzer said...

The current coach's managerial performance has NOTHING to do with how well the USMNT plays? It is ALL about youth development?

:/

Funny, it seems to me like the previous US youth development was no better when they beat Spain (with Jay DeMerit, mind you) two years ago than it was when they lost to Panama.

SPA2TACU5 said...

Well you seem to think that this USMNT should be winning a lot more.

It is completely unrealistic.

The US is a 3rd world soccer country now developing into something stronger.

If you have to line up DeMeritt as a starter in WC'10 you can't expect bigger things 1 year later in some badly timed Gold Cup.

You think it matters if the coach plays 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 when he's playing Bornstein and the likes? You think better players will drop out of the sky when Hiddink signs on?

There's nothing wrong with being impatient but this coach is delivering to what may be expected of the US according to it's current state as a soccer nation.

Greg Seltzer said...

"Well you seem to think that this USMNT should be winning a lot more."


Where did I say a lot more? It would be very easy for me to list off a scroll of matches where one less mistake or one something could have made the difference. We could talk just about the Ghana WC game all day and into tomorrow. We could talk about these types of examples for a month - not in small part because Bradley insists on playing games that way.


"It is completely unrealistic."

Tell that to 2009 Spain. If we (and more to the opint, Bradley) are capable of beating friggin' Spain with DeMerit and Ricardo Clark... yeah.



"The US is a 3rd world soccer country now developing into something stronger."

Third world???

Well, now you're just trying to sneak the bar lower. For crying out loud, I'm not convinced Panama is so low as the soccer third world. The US is not even close to that anymore.



"If you have to line up DeMeritt as a starter in WC'10 you can't expect bigger things 1 year later in some badly timed Gold Cup."


I'm sorry, neither of these excuses make any sense to me.


"You think it matters if the coach plays 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 when he's playing Bornstein and the likes?"


Erm... why must we play Bornstein? That is part of tactics, man. It ain't just about what shape you draw it up in, it's as much about how you man it.



"You think better players will drop out of the sky when Hiddink signs on?"


Of course not. Now answer me this: do you honestly believe HIddink could make no improvement over Bradley?

Seriously. In what universe did we just land where Bob Bradley has been note perfect? Is he somehow now the best possible coach on the planet for any team or just the USMNT?

Don't make me GOB "C'mon!" you.



"There's nothing wrong with being impatient but this coach is delivering to what may be expected of the US according to it's current state as a soccer nation."


... by your standards. Let's be clear about that. I'm not saying they are right or wrong, but a lot of other people, and not just impatient fans, are becoming exasperated with the USMNT's path.

I'd bet that few scribes have been as critical of Bradley as me over the last five years, but I also freely give him credit when it is due. I want him to succeed.

Right now, he isn't. And I don't think there is anyone in US Soccer, including the coach, that would tell you our senior side is meeting their expectations right now.

Bear in mind, now, that I have yet to publicly call for his job. But I'm damn sure considering it. You should at least try considering it, if for no more than an exercise, because no amount of "Really, this is as good as we can expect" talk certainly won't compel our next opponents to lower the bar any for us.

Greg Seltzer said...

Heh. As all can see, I got up in the middle of typing the last sentence... then finished it a moment later.

But you got what I mean.

SPA2TACU5 said...

- "Well you seem to think that this USMNT should be winning a lot more."

> Where did I say a lot more?

- You're raising the impression.

____________________________

- "It is completely unrealistic."

> Tell that to 2009 Spain. If we (and more to the point, Bradley) are capable of beating friggin' Spain with DeMerit and Ricardo Clark... yeah.

- Scoreboard journalism. Because you beat Spain once in an unimportant game you are now capable of a lot more. Here's another result for your scoreboard journalism plate: Brazil vs. Venezuela: 0-0. Oh and Panama is 52nd on the quite meaningless FIFA ranking, Venezuela 69th.

____________________________

- "The US is a 3rd world soccer country now developing into something stronger."

> Third world??? Well, now you're just trying to sneak the bar lower. For crying out loud, I'm not convinced Panama is so low as the soccer third world. The US is not even close to that anymore.

- Okay maybe not third world. But Van Bommel and Carles Puyol have a longer history in professional soccer than the MLS.

____________________________

- "If you have to line up DeMerit as a starter in WC'10 you can't expect bigger things 1 year later in some badly timed Gold Cup."

> I'm sorry, neither of these excuses make any sense to me.

- Because DeMerit is a great player? Or because all of a sudden better players have emerged? And obviously Bradley left some players at 'home' to suit the MLS.

____________________________

- "You think it matters if the coach plays 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 when he's playing Bornstein and the likes?"

> Erm... why must we play Bornstein? That is part of tactics, man. It ain't just about what shape you draw it up in, it's as much about how you man it.

- So apparently you think there were better players than Bornstein available at that moment?

____________________________

SPA2TACU5 said...

- "You think better players will drop out of the sky when Hiddink signs on?"

> Of course not. Now answer me this: do you honestly believe HIddink could make no improvement over Bradley? Seriously.

- I don't know. Sure Hiddink would add things Bradley doesn't have. But then Hiddink might lack in some areas. He was incapable of qualifying w/ Russia for WC10 and is struggling with Turkey; he's complaining about the Turkish player pool...

____________________________

- In what universe did we just land where Bob Bradley has been note perfect? Is he somehow now the best possible coach on the planet for any team or just the USMNT? Don't make me GOB "C'mon!" you.

> I never said he was note perfect. Of course there are top coaches who would be good options. But he's proven to be the right kind of coach for the job as well. So I don't see any reason to replace him. Unless you set the USMNT's goals to winning every single game and reach the 3rd or 4th round in a WC.

____________________________

- "There's nothing wrong with being impatient but this coach is delivering to what may be expected of the US according to it's current state as a soccer nation."

> ... by your standards. Let's be clear about that. I'm not saying they are right or wrong, but a lot of other people, and not just impatient fans, are becoming exasperated with the USMNT's path.

- Well thank you for not judging my US' soccer standards. Fans are always impatient, and so are most journalists. It's a long path yes, but the USMNT will get there.

____________________________

> I'd bet that few scribes have been as critical of Bradley as me over the last five years, but I also freely give him credit when it is due. I want him to succeed. Right now, he isn't. And I don't think there is anyone in US Soccer, including the coach, that would tell you our senior side is meeting their expectations right now.

- Please ask him. I would really like to hear his answer.
And I tend to disagree about the credit: we've been there before and in my opinion you were at that time not giving him the credit he deserved.


NB 4096 char max.

Greg Seltzer said...

"I don't know. Sure Hiddink would add things Bradley doesn't have. But then Hiddink might lack in some areas. He was incapable of qualifying w/ Russia for WC10 and is struggling with Turkey; he's complaining about the Turkish player pool."


Well, clearly you are of the belief that Hiddink is no more qualified or talented at managing than Bradley (which I gotta say is wild, man) and apparently somehow that not qualifying for World Cup out of UEFA is as big a sin as losing to Panama - otherwise it's hardly a point.

Should we now place their best accomplishments side-by-side?

Forget Turkey, everybody has problems with Turkey's players. What Hiddink is most known for is taking a team with field issues and getting the most out of everyone in the proper way to make a machine. PSV is the perfect example. That squad had a lot of flawed players, but made a great team.

To me, that is exactly the kind of coach the USMNT needs for this next step. I can and have accepted and even sometimes defended Bradley's first cycle. I would have a hard time doing the same for cycle #2 so far.


"I never said he was note perfect. Of course there are top coaches who would be good options. But he's proven to be the right kind of coach for the job as well. So I don't see any reason to replace him. Unless you set the USMNT's goals to winning every single game and reach the 3rd or 4th round in a WC."


Right for what job exactly? Proven how?

You seem to be what I call "resigned to being satisfied" - which frankly seems to be the attitude toward the situation from most of the scribes I've seen comment about it. They seem, like you, to want to pat all the silly little impatient fans and writers on the head for raising the issue.

As you may guess, I find this odd in two ways. The resigned satisfaction and the ire at those who feel like his time is about up because they expect more.

Note I did not say a lot more or win every game or rule the planet.

More than this. If you are happy with this, that's your perfect right. Go on and feel that way. But I don't find anyone asking for more to be silly. I find them to be dead serious.



"Well thank you for not judging my US' soccer standards. Fans are always impatient, and so are most journalists. It's a long path yes, but the USMNT will get there."


You're welcome, but still vastly outnumbered on this opinion. That doesn't make you wrong, but it's probably not getting you any closer to right either. "Getting there" involves improvement and that has stopped. We're now regressing. And not just regressing, but doing so using the ways and means that we already know are not good enough.



"Please ask him. I would really like to hear his answer.
And I tend to disagree about the credit: we've been there before and in my opinion you were at that time not giving him the credit he deserved."


1 - If I could, I would. But do you actually think he's satisfied with how things are going? That man is a competitor. He works hard in that job. He gives his all and goes with his call. Bob Bradley is not satisfied right now. Bet on it.


2 - Feel free to point out this time I did not give deserved credit and I gladly will produce my commentary for re-examination. I've credited Bradley plenty. Sadly, all my pre-WC10 ratings are temporarily lost while S365 redoes their site, so I cannot produce those for the moment.

SPA2TACU5 said...

There's no way to compare what a coach does at a club to the work of a national team coach.

Yes Hiddink has done great things:

PSV '88 Immensely successful.
Fenerbahçe Failure.
Valencia Did okay.
Netherlands Failure + very successful.
Real Madrid Failure.
Real Betis Did okay.
South Korea Very successful.
PSV Quite successful.
Australia Successful.
Russia Very successful + huge failure.
Chelsea Successful.
Turkey Struggling.

But let's for a moment analyze his latest success stories (I'm too young to really remember PSV'88, except for all the top players in that squad).

Starting with the Netherlands in '98.

He flunked at Euro '96 because of the big ego's and in '98 knows how to manage those ego's into a fantastic squad. But he's working with absolute world class players in about every position. Most of whom knew how to play the passing game because they had all been brought up by Van Gaal at Ajax.

Korea.

He gets the federation to stop the league and so he can pull every national team player from the league and train his squad for quite a few weeks. Genius move of course, but is this going to happen at the USMNT? I think not. He changes Korea's docile hierarchical culture into a culture that fits professional soccer.

PSV '05.

Hiddink gets to spend a lot of money on his team and brings in and gets to work with quite a few top players: Gomes, Alex, Van Bommel, Cocu, Farfan, Ji-Sung Park.

Australia.

He builds a good team and manages to create momentum to beat Uruguay over 2 playoff games. During the WC create momentum again and gets Australia through to the 2nd round.

Russia.

Narrowly escapes not qualifying for Euro'08 thanks to mr. Carson and Croatia. He manages the big ego's and kicks out the over-the-hill players. Ends up reaching the semi's of Euro'08.
He can't keep the momentum going and Russia flunks WC 10 qualification because they lose to Slovenia in playoffs.

Chelsea.

He has to manage the big ego's and knows to create a positive atmosphere. Turns Chelsea's season around by reaching the semi's of CL.


So all in all: yes Hiddink is a world class coach. But is he a guarantee for success? Not at all.

Bradley is steady with a good set of brains. He knows how to pull the needed results with a wide variety of players under a wide variety of circumstances. My point: stick to steady while you're developing.

Of course if Bradley now flunks WC'14 qualification I can never show my avatar here again.

Greg Seltzer said...

Well, you sure work hard to downplay Hiddink's achievements, but let's just cut to the nitty gritty...


"So all in all: yes Hiddink is a world class coach. But is he a guarantee for success? Not at all."


Who offered you a guarantee? Does one come with Bradley?

This is what I mean, it's like advanced pessimism with a sales pitch. It sounds like a good point at first... but under inspection, it isn't really a point at all, good or bad. It's just an excuse to not be bold or something.



"Bradley is steady with a good set of brains. He knows how to pull the needed results with a wide variety of players under a wide variety of circumstances."


Erm...



"My point: stick to steady while you're developing."


My point: sticking to steady doesn't develop much of anything. The challenge needs to rise and the daring with it.

SPA2TACU5 said...

Well, you sure work hard to downplay Hiddink's achievements, but let's just cut to the nitty gritty...

> I guess we've both got the gift of being good at downplaying people's performances.


"So all in all: yes Hiddink is a world class coach. But is he a guarantee for success? Not at all."

Who offered you a guarantee? Does one come with Bradley?

> I've tried to point out why Hiddink might be not as good of a choice as Bradley has been so far.


This is what I mean, it's like advanced pessimism with a sales pitch. It sounds like a good point at first... but under inspection, it isn't really a point at all, good or bad. It's just an excuse to not be bold or something.

> Sounds more like "being bold" has become a goal in itself. I rather be smart and sensible. Analyze the situation instead just reading out the latest scoreline.


"Bradley is steady with a good set of brains. He knows how to pull the needed results with a wide variety of players under a wide variety of circumstances."

Erm...

> Yes? Oh right, all the bad results. The finals he didn't reach, the qualifications he missed. The matches he's lost. Oh no not the matches he's lost because you hever said you think he should win more games. Then maybe the unsexy football he plays. The bad players he calls up. And last but not least the wingers that are missing in his system.


"My point: stick to steady while you're developing."

My point: sticking to steady doesn't develop much of anything. The challenge needs to rise and the daring with it.

> I don't think you've made a case for not sticking to steady yet. So let's fire Bradley. Now what? Paint the picture if you will.

Greg Seltzer said...

"I guess we've both got the gift of being good at downplaying people's performances."

Please point out where I did this.


"I've tried to point out why Hiddink might be not as good of a choice as Bradley has been so far."

Fair enough, but "He comes with no guarantee" isn't a point. That can be applied to everyone ever.


"Sounds more like "being bold" has become a goal in itself. I rather be smart and sensible. Analyze the situation instead just reading out the latest scoreline."

1 - Who says being bold isn't smart and sensible? Who says a team can't be all three things at once? Have we hit the peak of smartness and sensibility already or something?

2 - Heh. I have analyzed the situation for 5 years. And nobody unsatisfied with Bradley suddenly had a ton of problems with his coaching after the Gold Cup final.

So... at this point, you may wish to count all those straws under the one breaking the camel's back. We both know this isn't merely overreacting to one result.


y.

Greg Seltzer said...

"Yes? Oh right, all the bad results. The finals he didn't reach, the qualifications he missed. The matches he's lost. Oh no not the matches he's lost because you hever said you think he should win more games. Then maybe the unsexy football he plays. The bad players he calls up. And last but not least the wingers that are missing in his system."


Look... you can misrepresent my position to belittle it all you want. But just for the sake of re-clarification, I'll take these one at a time as is:

"all the bad results"

Really, I was kinda ermmming to the Gold Cup because you claimed he knows how to get the results - this is not a point to make right after lose to Panama and blow a two-goal lead to Mexico in the final. Obviously.


"The finals he didn't reach, the qualifications he missed"

I don't believe I've said anything of this sort.


"The matches he's lost."

Is this not a valid concern somehow?


"Oh no not the matches he's lost because you hever said you think he should win more games."

Urgh. No, I never said he should win EVERY game. There is a lot of distance between what we win now and every game. I have repeatedly said I want "more" winning... not a lot more, not every game... more. As in progress from how many we win now.


"Then maybe the unsexy football he plays."

I also said nothing about this - but while we're on the topic, let's just go ahead and explain that "sexy football" isn;t only sexy and it is not done for the purpose of being sexy.

It's done because it's hard to beat.


"The bad players he calls up."

Ummmm... YES!!!!!!!!!

And while we're at it, let's add the bad players he calls up time and again AND the good players he ignores or gets "a problem with".


"And last but not least the wingers that are missing in his system"

Said no such thing, don;t find that a reason to question his job in the first place.



"I don't think you've made a case for not sticking to steady yet. So let's fire Bradley. Now what? Paint the picture if you will."

1 - My last point you just responded to was quite good, if only because you have no relevant retort.

2 - I would debate that the spot we are in now constitutes "steady". I don;t even think he's managed to reach that. Do you? Is this your idea of steady?

3 - Allow me to remind you that I have not actually called for his job yet. What I am doing here is debating you on whether the issue and question is valid to discuss and ponder.

You clearly do not think it is, that's fine. However, I will vehemently disagree that Bradley deserves sacred cow status from his job performance. And while I have already stated my acceptance to his first cycle, I was not in favor of the second beforehand and I am even less so regarding the way the second cycle is unfolding (which is about like I'd feared it could, not far off).

So again, we can disagree on how right for the job Bradley is all day. That's one thing and we clearly feel differently about it.

But working so hard to m make out like a Hiddink could do no better, and for that matter that Bradley can do no better than he has, is merely attempting to shut down a conversation you don't like.

This SHOULD be in discussion right now. Now is exactly when it should be. And if it is not even a question at the USSF, there's something very wrong.

But... since you've insisted, I will lay out a few possible ways to go after Bradley: Biesla, Pekerman, Quieroz, and yes, Klinsi. I would also not discount the possibility of convincing Hiddink he's sick of Turkey.

And if Hiddink could be convinced, I would also take the opportunity to establish a permanent USMNT base in Europe. It's something that probably should have happened already and will become fully necessary soon enough anyway.

SPA2TACU5 said...

"I've tried to point out why Hiddink might be not as good of a choice as Bradley has been so far."

- Fair enough, but "He comes with no guarantee" isn't a point. That can be applied to everyone ever.

> True of course. But a lot of people seem to think he does come with a guarantee and/or think he's (been) successful everywhere. I've pointed out his success ratio as a national team coach hasn't been 100%. It's been more like 50%. If it goes right it goes right big time.
Not to mention the 6 million euro salary.



"Sounds more like "being bold" has become a goal in itself. I rather be smart and sensible. Analyze the situation instead just reading out the latest scoreline."

- Who says being bold isn't smart and sensible? Who says a team can't be all three things at once? Have we hit the peak of smartness and sensibility already or something?

> Chasing after big names seems to be more about the allure and reputation than about actually knowing what you're doing. I personally don't know anything about Pekerman, Bielsa, Quieroz. I know who they've coached and what their achievements are. But I have no clue about how they work. Or if they would fit the US job? Do you?



- Heh. I have analyzed the situation for 5 years. And nobody unsatisfied with Bradley suddenly had a ton of problems with his coaching after the Gold Cup final.
So... at this point, you may wish to count all those straws under the one breaking the camel's back. We both know this isn't merely overreacting to one result.

> It's overreacting to many results? But seriously, I still do not see the bad results.

SPA2TACU5 said...

"Yes? Oh right, all the bad results. The finals he didn't reach, the qualifications he missed. The matches he's lost. Oh no not the matches he's lost because you hever said you think he should win more games. Then maybe the unsexy football he plays. The bad players he calls up. And last but not least the wingers that are missing in his system."



"all the bad results"

- Really, I was kinda ermmming to the Gold Cup because you claimed he knows how to get the results - this is not a point to make right after lose to Panama and blow a two-goal lead to Mexico in the final. Obviously.

> It isn’t? Gold Cup who cares? And Panama, who cares? It's group phase and the USMNT qualified for the next round. Second of all, it's a pretty worthless tournament. I get it is a prize but there's only two teams who can win/lose it. As long as you reach the final you've done okay.

Yes then USMNT went 2-0 up but then what? They had lost a very important defender early on and during a game in a 90.000 filled stadium it's virtually impossible to coach your team. If anything the leaders on the field should’ve recognized the situation and adjusted the team accordingly.



"The finals he didn't reach, the qualifications he missed"

I don't believe I've said anything of this sort.

> Because you can't. Which is one of my points: Bradley knows how to pull results.



"Oh no not the matches he's lost because you never said you think he should win more games."

- Urgh. No, I never said he should win EVERY game. There is a lot of distance between what we win now and every game. I have repeatedly said I want "more" winning... not a lot more, not every game... more. As in progress from how many we win now.

> So he should up his win ratio to...? 2:1? 1.5:1? Are we counting in the games against the big countries like Brazil, Netherlands and Spain? Are we counting in the meaningless friendlies? Only official tournament games? How does this work?

SPA2TACU5 said...

"Then maybe the unsexy football he plays."

- I also said nothing about this - but while we're on the topic, let's just go ahead and explain that "sexy football" isn’t only sexy and it is not done for the purpose of being sexy. It's done because it's hard to beat.

> Yes but so is catenaccio. Only the Dutch want to rather see sexy soccer than winning soccer.



"The bad players he calls up."

- Ummmm... YES!!!!!!!!! And while we're at it, let's add the bad players he calls up time and again AND the good players he ignores or gets "a problem with".

> Examples?



"I don't think you've made a case for not sticking to steady yet. So let's fire Bradley. Now what? Paint the picture if you will."

1 - My last point you just responded to was quite good, if only because you have no relevant retort.

> What point might that be?



2 - I would debate that the spot we are in now constitutes "steady". I don;t even think he's managed to reach that. Do you? Is this your idea of steady?

> Yes. He’s qualified for the 2nd round WC, reached the Confed Cup final and every Gold Cup final. So again, he knows how to pull results.

SPA2TACU5 said...

3 - Allow me to remind you that I have not actually called for his job yet. What I am doing here is debating you on whether the issue and question is valid to discuss and ponder.

> I was just discussing his performance. Not if people, or you as a journalist, should or should not (publicly) ask for his job.



- But working so hard to make out like a Hiddink could do no better, and for that matter that Bradley can do no better than he has, is merely attempting to shut down a conversation you don't like.

> I far from did that. I pointed out Hiddink is a world class coach, BUT he’s had quite a few hiccups in his recent career as well. And I’m stating that at this point in the USMNT’s development the cost of a hiccup would be huge. So I see no point in chasing after big names when the current coach is meeting the expectations. Clearly he’s not meeting yours, but then you haven’t clearly defined your expectations apart from “win more” and “select better players”.

NB I am not trying to shut down the conversation and I (quite obviously) have no resentment towards it.






- This SHOULD be in discussion right now. Now is exactly when it should be. And if it is not even a question at the USSF, there's something very wrong.

> I take it they’re always evaluating the USMNT’s results and looking ahead.
I think there’s no indication of



- ‘the way the second cycle is unfolding (which is about like I'd feared it could, not far off)’.

> Again it would be useful if you’d actually state what you mean by that.



"I don't think you've made a case for not sticking to steady yet. So let's fire Bradley. Now what? Paint the picture if you will."

> I meant more like: Hiddink/Bielsa/Pekerman/Quieroz/Klinsi is brought in. Then what happens? They will work their magic? I’m just wondering what will actually change and how.

SPA2TACU5 said...

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