New York Red Bulls: The Man Management Nightmare

There is no denying New York Red Bulls have some fantastic talent in their roster. Theirry Henry and Rafa Marquez, these are players that have won trophies and have been a part of great teams. Last season they even boasted one of the league’s top marksmen, Juan Pablo Angel.

Angel has since left for L.A. Galaxy and reports are suggesting Bayern Munich striker Miroslav Klose could be brought in to fill the gap. If the deal does go ahead it would take the Red Bulls to nine recognized first team strikers. Now fans of the club may say in a long MLS season you need a squad not just a first eleven but at what point do you draw the line?

Realistically you can play at most three strikers at any one time, and while some players like Englishman Luke Rodgers can deputize on the wing, it’s not his natural position. It’s very much crow barring him into the team.

The other new Englishman John Rooney famous for not being Wayne has been added to the squad of 32. When you consider EPL squads are set at 25 players and even some of those players struggle to get games you don’t envy the task Swede Hans Backe has to keep all of those players happy.

What makes this situation worse is the fact a lot of these players are new signings. They’ll take time to bed into a new league and won’t have made the move to New York with the intention of sitting on the bench.

It’s comparable to Manchester City and their attack heavy squad of recent times. When you have the likes of Tevez, Dzeko, Jo, Balotelli and then youngster Alex Nimley, you simply can’t accommodate them all. Then you have five other strikers all out on loan at different clubs, that’s essentially two attacking line rosters.

The one thing that should give Backe some hope is the youth in the squad. Twelve of his 32 man roster is 22 or under meaning that element of his team may be more patient when it comes to first team opportunities. This however is not guaranteed, players fresh out of college are just as likely wanting to establish themselves in the league and further any international dreams. That can’t be done from the bench.

It was by no means a bad season for New York last year. Finishing 3rd overall is nothing to be ashamed of despite the heavy investment in acquiring Rafa Marquez and Thierry Henry. The former was deemed to have had a good debut season in the league, however his former Barca team-mate Henry could easily come in for criticism.

Two goals from 11 starts wasn’t quite the return expected from Henry and if he begins this season in similar poor goal scoring form Backe will have a big decision to make. Thierry Henry was signed as a marquee player for the club much like David Beckham he was seen as a figurehead for the team who would also sell shirts. The problem he has unlike Beckham is that strikers are judged on goals.

If for example Luke Rodgers begins scoring does Backe drop Henry like a hot stone? Common sense would say yes, the club is bigger than any player and those in charge will be expecting the Red Bulls to win the MLS Cup this season. Either way Hans Backe’s task is an unenviable one, and if he manages to succeed it will without doubt be down to his fantastic man management and good squad rotation.

10 thoughts on “New York Red Bulls: The Man Management Nightmare”

  1. If NYRB do close in on Klose (apologies for the pun), then it’ll only be in the summer when his FC Bayern contract expires. By that stage, I’d hope the remaining strikers will have either made their case to be a first team starter or exposed themselves as a flop.

    I don’t think Luke Rodgers is going to be the kind of player that is going to endear himself to the MLS or even NYRB fans, given his history of off-the-pitch controversies and the fact he’s unproven at the top level of football. He’s only at Red Bulls due to Hans Backe’s involvement at his previous club, Notts County, a 3rd Tier side in England. I expect Rodgers to be a dud.

    I can maybe see Backe, who has a very ‘European’ management style, adopting the ‘tactic of the year’ in Europe and take a 4-3-3 with two wide strikers and a central target man (maybe a role Rodgers could succeed in…), but Henry on the left and maybe Agueldo on the right.

    Conor Chinn, Giorgi Chirgadze and Corey Hertzog shouldn’t have aspirations of any starting berths this season unfortunately and maybe only Dane Richards will push Henry/Rodgers/Agueldo/Ibrahim for that starting role.

    I actually believe Backe’s situation is one that many other MLS coaches would find very enviable indeed – especially if they get to the situation where they can weigh up if they really need to sign Klose or not; a World Cup Third Place striker!

    1. As a Notts County fan I can assure you that Luke Rodgers is no target man. He’s fast and agile and will play off the last defender and get you goals if accommmodated correctly. Backe might know what to do with him, despite his very brief spell at Notts.

      I suspect he will be liked by the fans with his never-say-die attitude to lost causes and eye for goal, plsu his pace.

      I think you may be pleasantly surprised by the quality of thrid tier English players.

      Good luck!

  2. Does anyone know if mlslive will be ipad friendly this season? If its not i might get direct kick.

    As far as the red bulls are conserned i was hoping to see agudela(sp?) play fulltime. Some of the strikers comming over should be headed to other teams in mls.

  3. I was just talking with a friend of mine about this quandary the other day. It seems odd that RBNY has bolstered the attacking positions at the club. Perhaps Backe believes those who are already here need to be pushed. Or perhaps he wants to go for both the league title and US Open Cup and believes such depth will make it happen. The Rooney and Rodgers signings really make me scratch my head. One would think with Lindpere, Tchani, Ballouchy, Agudelo, and Henry that the team has enough guys who can play attacking mid and/or forward.

    I also agree with the above poster about Rodgers. I hope he surprises us, but I don’t expect much.

  4. Yeah I don’t know about you guys but I’ve seen him during his time in England and I can say bar Cup tie at Everton many years ago for Shrewsbury he’s not really done much.

    After Shrewsbury his goalscoring curtailed too. When he was denied a WP I thought Backe had dodged a bullet, maybe he just wants him for his pace who knows.

    1. But when Backe was coaching Notts County he got Luke Rogers scoring more goals in a short period of time than any other manager in England. What Backe wants Rogers to do is stretch the back line to make them concentrate on Rogers and then that killer pass to Henry for a goal.

      Henry admitted to the NY Media, where I am 😉 he didn’t train after France was eliminated from the World Cup Group stage and that’s why he didn’t look good his half year in 2010. I think he will break out this season and get more than two. Training at Arsenal and joining the team for pre-season on time I might add will help the club with goals this season.

      1. Definitely agree with this point regarding Henry – I don’t think its suitable to fully judge him on his appearances last season. Let’s wait and see what he does this season. Though, on the flip side, its important to remember he’s not as quick as he used to be and it was his blistering pace that quality passes from the Arsenal midfield that made him at Arsenal. His spell at Barcelona wasn’t overly great, I’d say it was ‘decent’ at best.

        I agree that Rodgers did have success at Notts County under Backe, but I’d imagine there’s more pressure playing for the New York Red Bulls than there was at Notts County, especially alongside the likes of Henry and Marquez. Whilst its always good (for us Europeans!) to see players move to the MLS when they have other options, I’m just not convinced Rodgers will be a success. I don’t think he has the technical ability to stand out – but I can see a role for him as the guy who shakes up a defense, a no nosense attacking style that gets stuck in so opposition coaches are forced to stick a man or two on him affording a more flair-based player flexibility. Maybe.

        1. I will agree with you Neill about Luke Rodgers. I admit that I have never seen him play a single match with Notts County. Only from his Sky Sports interview you saw a few highlights from him. But if Backe is confident that he is the right man for the job to pair up top with Henry, then so it shall be.

        2. I agree that it’s too early to judge Henry yet – he’s been a fairly slow starter at each club he’s been at since leaving Monaco.

          I think it’s a bit harsh to say his time at Barca was only “decent” though. It’s a commonly held view (I admit to thinking the same thing until I looked at wikipedia), probably due to his relatively slow start; but the facts are that in his first season, he finished as Barca’s top scorer (19 in all comps), and second in assists behind Messi. In his second season, he scored 26 goals, was part of the highest scoring forward-trio in La Liga history, won the Champions League, La Liga, Copa del Rey and the world club championship. Any way you look at it, that’s better than just “decent”.

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