Sure the NY Red Bulls are better than they were before Hans Backe’s arrival in 2009, but at what point do the Red Bulls decide to part ways with the underachieving manager? For all of the big money the team has spent on big names, New York hasn’t accomplished anything in its history. Take a look at the names.Thierry Henry, Juan Pablo Angel, Rafa Marquez, Tim Cahill, Dwayne De Rosario, Juan Agudelo. I can go on and on. There are a ton of reasons why he should get the boot.
After finishing the regular season atop the Eastern Conference in 2010, Backe’s team failed to even make it past the first round of the playoffs after losing disgracefully to the San Jose Earthquakes at Red Bull Arena. A year later, the team fell completely apart mid-season and barely made the playoffs after defeating FC Dallas in a wildcard match. They then proceeded to lose to the Galaxy in the next round. Of course the coach blamed the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the struggles of the Red Bulls as players were away from the team to play for their countries.
Speaking of CONCACAF, Backe has failed to make the Champions League the past two seasons. He notably benched his entire starting team last season against the Chicago Fire in a US Open Cup game that would have put NY in good position in the tournament. He took a lot of criticism after basically admitting that he didn’t care about the US Open Cup.
If you look past the disappointing results the past two seasons, you should take a look at the way the Red Bulls play. We all know the Swedish and former Notts County manager wants to bring a European style to the MLS. The Austrian owned Red Bull organization seems to think every European is the way to go. From the players they have brought in like Victor Palsson, Markus Holgersson, Brian Nielson, Joel Lindpere, Jan Gunnar Solli, and Frank Rost. Backe and his European buddies seem to be infatuated with bringing mediocre European players to the MLS.
Here is something the organization should begin to realize. All of that stuff doesn’t work in America. You can try to play the European style all you want, but if you don’t have the quality it won’t work. Why must we cut young and promising American players like Matt Kassel and Sacir Hot? Why do we give away talent every year including players like Brad Davis, Ricardo Clark, Mac Khanji, Juan Agudelo, Dwayne De Rosario, Mike Magee, Jeff Parke, and a whole list of quality players. The American game, with no disrespect, is not the same game as it is in Europe. MLS is a lot more physical game but it is less technical than other leagues around the world. It is difficult for European players to adjust. Just ask Thierry Henry who struggled when he first arrived in New York. Backe has to either adjust his style to the American game or continue struggling week in and week out vs. MLS-savy coaches like Sigi Schmidt and Dom Kinnear. Sure the MLS style is not as flashy or technical as the EPL or La Liga or Serie A, but the MLS has its own unique characteristics that make it what it is.
I don’t know if it is just me, but does anyone out there see what I see when I watch the Red Bulls play? Backe’s style eliminates the midfield and forces the defenders to do the playmaking. We often see no movement off the ball, no runs being made, and futile long ball attempts which result in a loss of possession. I cannot believe Backe doesn’t see this. Holgersson and Conde should not be linking up with the forwards and setting up goal opportunities. Roy Miller should not be responsible for providing service to Henry. That is the job of the midfield. No other MLS team has their defense pass and and have as many touches as the Red Bulls do. Tim Ream once led the team in passing last season. This should not happen.
Besides his unintelligent tactics, Backe is also questionable when it comes to forming the lineup. He constantly changes the lineup every week and prevents any chemistry from being made with players. The organization as a whole is guilty of changing the roster from year to year. Just this week they got rid of Mehdi Ballouchy after trading Dane Richards for Sebastien Le Toux earlier this season. Hans is also notorious for making bad subs or no subs at all.
How much longer do we have to see this flat team underperform while having the best roster on paper. Surely any other quality MLS coach would be unstoppable with the roster Backe has. Imagine Sigi Schmidt had Henry, Cahill, and Cooper at his disposal. Sigi has done nothing but win wherever he goes, even without a team of well-known players.
It might just be time for New York to find a new coach. Backe should not be back if this talented roster does not win the MLS Cup this year. It is not too much to expect this season with the rest of the MLS containing mediocre teams. No excuses. It is championship or bust. If it is a bust, the Red Bulls must make changes and look at MLS coaches to take over, not European ones who are unfamiliar with the American game.
We will see what happens as the playoffs approach.