The wait has finally ended. After months of speculation and rumors of who was going to take the job, former Notts County manager Hans Backe has taken the position as the new Head Coach of Red Bull NY. Richie Williams who completed his second stint as Interim has been retained as the head assistant to Backe while Des McAlennen remains the other assistant and keeper coach.
Backe has a long list of coaching clubs in the Scandinavian leagues with FC Copenhagen & Aalborg BK in Denmark, coached one of Sweden’s powerhouses in Hammarby, SV Salzburg in Austria & Panathinaikos in Greece. He has also won four consecutive Danish titles with Copenhagen from 2000 to 2004. He has also worked as Sven Goren Eriksson’s right hand man during their brief time with the Mexican National Team & occasions with Eriksson at his time with Manchester City.
If you ask me this is a strong resume of a man that has done wonderful things in European Football. Do I think he will get the young kids and the veterans a strong chance to play at their full potential? Of course he will, but as always there is that one glaring weakness that a foriegn coach has when coming to the top flight American Division. He has no experience in Major League Soccer Rules and Regulations. Some could argue that’s Sporting Director Erik Soler’s job to worry about it, but still the head coach has to know what he is in for once he has signed on the dotted line.
Meanwhile for Richie Williams he will be the bridge between the players on the club as well as helping out with the scouting as the top assistant. But at the same time you have to feel sorry for him as his last two Interim stints were strong enough to give him the reigns to become a head coach for this club and the league.
After Mo Johnston was released from his duties on June 27, 2006 from a poor start, Williams guided the club to a 4-3-2 record that also included a fourth round victory at the Wilmington Hammerheads in the US Open Cup. Then his second interim stint came about in late August of last year when Juan Carlos Osorio left the club and got two straight wins at Giants Stadium against FC Dallas, Columbus and won the final match of the season against Toronto FC, knocking them out of the playoffs. In MLS play Williams has a 6-6-4 record, so whatever he has learned under Mo Johnston, Bruce Arena & Juan Carlos Osorio as well as being creative with his own thoughts shows that this man is capable to lead a club in MLS or any club that is affiliated in US Soccer.
The same arguments when Ruud Guillt, Bora Mulotinovic came in as head coaches in this league with no experience of knowing the strange rules will be pointed at Hans Backe. Even when Cobi Jones was Guillt’s assistant it wasn’t enough to keep the Dutchman’s job. Then again the only real successful manager from Europe is leading the charge up in New England and that is Liverpool Legend Steve Nicol. At least Nicol spent a good amount of time in the USA as part of the coaching staff of the old Boston Bulldogs and was also assistant coach for the Revolution during Walter Zenga’s time and Fernando Clavijo. His knowledge of the league & players both in MLS, USL & collegiate soccer has shown why he is ahead of the curve.
When the ideas or rumors of bringing over Walter Zenga or Roberto Donadoni to become the new head coach of the club I wasn’t against the idea, but only as the assistant as their times in MLS was very brief and didn’t know about the progress of our league. Now Mr. Backe will be thrown into the lions den that is MLS & New York City. The roar of disapproval will be great if he slips up just once. But other than that, I wish Hans Backe good luck this season. He is going to need it.