From the halls of Foxboro Stadium…

Time for Revs to End the Nicol Era

Posted by Mike Marshall on May 18, 2009

By: Mike Marshall

Watching the Revolution hold on to a 1-1 draw for dear life  at home against the Colorado Rapids, you got the sense that you were witness to a Dead Team Walking.  Sure, the Revs still have a host of players making daily trips to the trainer’s room, but with all due respect to the job that Gary Smith and Paul Bravo are doing, they weren’t exactly facing Manchester United.

As the MLS season hits the quarter pole, New England finds itself struggling to stay in the pack.  Far more concerning then the team’s 2-2-4 record is how they’ve looked.  Eight games down, and the Revs have probably been outplayed in six or seven of them.  They’ve been outshot 136-57.  They’re last or next to last in the league in goals, assists, shots, shots on goal, shots allowed, fouls committed, and corner kicks.  All of which suggests that to this point, New England hasn’t don’t much of anything well, with the possible exception of keeping the team’s goals against fairly respectable.

Yes, things will get better.  Taylor Twellman should eventually return to action, as should Mauricio Castro and Chris Albright.  But Albright and Castro were key members of the squad that failed spectacularly down the stretch in 2008.  Can they really be expected to bring the Revs to the top of the tables a year later?

It seems doubtful.  Albright might not even be the best right back on the team any more, and even Steve Nicol calls Castro a disappointment.

So, even when healthy, this club seems destined to assume a familiar position – that of pretender, rather than a true contender to the MLS crown.    It could be argued that this has been the natural state of affairs for the Revs and their fans for the last eight years, dating back to when Steve Nicol rescued the organization from the depths of the MLS standings in 2001.

Perhaps it’s time to turn the attention to Nicol.  There’s no denying that his overall impact on club has been overwhelmingly positive.  New England was known for their status as perennial underachievers prior to his hiring on May 22, 2001.  Of course, Nicol and Twellman combined to lead the team on a magical late season run to the MLS Cup Finals where 61,316 would have all gone home happy if Winston Griffiths’ deflected volley was six inches lower.

Fast forward six and a half years (…and three more MLS Cup losses), and more than ever, Nicol and erstwhile assistant Paul Mariner seem like they’re out of ideas to break through the glass ceiling.

I’ve always believed that the second you don’t have complete confidence in a manager’s ability to lead your team to a championship, then it’s time to part ways.  Is it risky?  Sure.  In this case, there’s no telling that the next guy would be better than Nicol, or if he’d even be a good manager at all.  But keeping someone you’ve lost faith in simply because you’re scared to pull the trigger strikes me as a recipe for prolonged mediocrity.  And if you haven’t noticed, that’s where the Revs seem to be headed.  While I don’t want the Revs to return to the pre-Nicol era where squeezing into the post-season was cause for a two hour celebration in the parking lot, I can’t say I’m having a lot of fun the club’s current state of perpetual “almost”.

I’m not for a moment suggesting that Nicol has done a bad job in New England.  And in that sense, should the organization decide to move on, it won’t be entirely fair.  But there’s clearly no denying that the franchise has stagnated the last two years, if it hasn’t already begun a full-fledged backslide.

So, at what point do you give Nicol a firm handshake and say to him, “Thanks for everything you’ve done here, Steve, but it’s time for us to go in a different direction.”

Personally, I’ve reached that point watching the team struggle badly over the past few weeks.  And the frustration only grows when when I look at the holes in the roster that have been there for years in many cases and wonder why more wasn’t done to address them.  Or when I look at the likes of Wells Thompson and flashback to the Holy Trinity of “I know better than anyone else” first round busts Leandro de Oliveira, Rob Valentino, and Ryan Maxwell.

Steve Nicol has had a very long and comprehensive opportunity to win an MLS Cup.  The fact that he hasn’t accomplished his stated goal does not make him a bad person or even a bad coach.   But the Revs simply can not keep conducting business as usual and expect different results.  No manager in any sport should expect an indefinite number of chances to win a Championship – and Nicol and his staff have more opportunities without success than any in league history.

It’s time for new blood with new ideas.  Unless you’re OK with settling for what you’ve seen from the Revs so far this season.

6 Responses to “Time for Revs to End the Nicol Era”

  1. Walter Silva said

    I dont agree with this writer,first i dont even no why he did not put is name on it,i think that Steve Nicol and is team in another team will win the MLS title, give him players that can win the big games and Nicol and is team will win,i ben around Foxboro for the pass seven seasons, and i haven it seen Sunil Gulati and the front offices give this team a player that can make the diference.
    I realy dont no why Steve Nicol stay in Foxboro, anywhere else Steve Nicol will win w cup, he has the lowers paid team in MLS, he only has players that come out of college, i think Steve Nicol and is team has done alott more that then any other coach will ever do in Foxboro.
    Almost every year the Revs loss a good player, does Sunil Gulati replaces that player with one that could do the same or better job? i will answer that, NO, did Sunil Gullati ever try to replace a player like Clint Dempsey? i will answer that, NO, cano you make ommels with out egs? i will anwer that, NO, so mister writer Steve Nicol has done in the Revolution what no other coach ever did, or ever going to do, eh has make player out kids that come fom college, a thing that no other coach never will do, and i will name afew, Joseph, Dempsey, Larentowicz,Parkhurst,and others,so give credit where credis is do.
    In Toronto Steve Nicol in two seasons will win the MLS cup,so if i hade a saying Steve Nicol would be the next Toronto FC coach.

  2. baldeagle said

    I’d agree with Walter Silva. I think the problem with a lot of Revs fans, is that they don’t see that Kraft/Gulati don’t want to put in the money thats needed for the Revs to compete. Every team in MLS has improved except for us, WHY? If you compare the Pats with the Revs, does Belicheck go and buy the best players, no. Nicol plays the game like his counterpart. He gets results with players that don’t cost a fortune. If anyone supports the revs, then you have to speak up against the organization not just the coach. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!

  3. Mike Marshall said

    Hi, Walter.

    This post was my work. I thought my name was attached, but I’ve edited things to make it clear.

    As for the front office, the Revs deny that they’re consistently under the cap. Nicol’s never complained about not having resources, either. And it’s not like Nicol hasn’t signed anyone – Gabriel Badilla? Argenis Fernandez? Mauricio Castro? Chris Albright?

    Besides, at this point, it doesn’t really matter if he’s got resources or not. Clearly, the Krafts are going to give him what they’re going to give him. If the job description is to win on the cheap, then let someone else have a shot at winning on the cheap.

  4. baldeagle said

    Chris Albright came to the Revs via a trade! I hardly call that a signing.

  5. Mike Flanagan said

    Even Sir Alex or The Special One couldn’t coach this current bunch to a victory. Too many injuries. They’d struggle to find three points in the Reserve League (RIP).

  6. sal said

    Nicol is not the problem, those 3 mls cup loses could of easily been wins if not for a few unlucky bounces, I belive w/o nicol they would’nt have even made to the final once.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: