What next for Nicol, Revs?
Posted by Mike Marshall on November 10, 2009
Another season, another unsatisfactory conclusion.
A few days removed from what was an exceptionally painful ending (Jesus, anyone but him…) many Revolution fans are taking time to step back and look at the bigger picture. And I’d have to think that most don’t really like what they’re looking at.
2009 was the 3rd consecutive year in which the club earned fewer points and had a worse goal differential than the previous season. It’s difficult to draw any other conclusion then the organization is moving in the wrong direction. And it’s time for that to stop before the situation gets any worse.
It’s beyond time for the Revolution to make sweeping changes to their organization, both on and off the field. Players, trainers, coaches, executives, peanut vendors – they should all be evaluated, and none of them should be assured of returning in 2010. Because as a Revolution fan from Day One, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to get excited about a club that seems to be stagnating on the playing field and at the gate.
And if the team truly wants to remake itself – and they should – then those changes need to include finding a coach.
The argument in favor of keeping Nicol usually boils down to a complaint about how much the club is willing to spend on player salaries. And admittedly, I’ve voiced the same complaint in the past. But at some point, the salary structure is what it is. If the job description involves winning on the cheap, then it involves winning on the cheap. And if Nicol can’t do it, then the Revs need to try and find someone who can.
And while we’re at it, let’s not lose sight of the fact that he’s squandered many of the resources he has been given. The signings of Mauricio Castro and Gabriel Badilla loom as tremendous mistakes. Edgaras Jankauskas’ signing made it clear that Nicol had the green light to add a significant salary to his roster, but he chose to wait until the season was half over before pulling the trigger on 36-year old forward who seemingly doesn’t have much tread left on his tires. Chris Albright has given the team virtually nothing in his two seasons with the club. That’s nearly $675,000 and three international roster spots wrapped up in players who didn’t contribute a whole lot.
Of course Nicol has his positives. While I don’t feel qualified to judge his tactics, he remains very popular with his players. Over the course of his tenure, he’s done remarkably well in the draft, and there’s no short-changing the job he’s done developing players like Jeff Larentowicz.
I also understand that the Revs have been bitten pretty severely over the past two years by the injury bug. But to write off this team’s shortcomings to injuries does nothing but gloss over the fact that they’ve never been good enough under Nicol’s tenure, even when completely healthy.
Bluntly, Steve Nicol is part of the problem in Foxboro. Is he the entire problem? No. Is he a bad coach? Probably not. But he’s been in place for seven seasons now, and there’s no sense that he’s suddenly going to come up with the magic formula to win in Foxboro.
I fully concede that things may get worse should Nicol and the Revs choose to part ways. There’s no guarantee that the next manager would be any better the the former Liverpool legend. But I no longer believe that a Nicol-led Revolution squad will eventually lift an MLS Cup. And once enough Revolution fans reach the same conclusion, it’s time to make serious changes.