Jesse Marsch hasn’t been a very popular person since being named the New York Red Bulls’ manager earlier this month. Fans have misplaced their anger regarding the firing of Mike Petke by showing animosity towards their new manager.
None of this was Jesse Marsch’s fault. It is unfair to blame Marsch for anything. He didn’t fire Mike Petke. All he did was take his job. Honestly, who can blame him for that? Wouldn’t any soccer coach without a job take one as the manager of an MLS team if it were offered to them? Yes.
Mike Petke was a popular figure for the Red Bulls. He was undoubtedly the most beloved coach in team history. He led the team to its two most successful seasons in club history…in consecutive years. Petke was great. That is an undisputed fact. But just because Petke was great, doesn’t mean Marsch isn’t, or can’t be.
Of course, his record as coach of the Montreal Impact led many to criticize him. People said that he wasn’t a good coach. People said that he had no idea what he was doing on the touchline. But Marsch has a brilliant mind for the sport. Those who criticized him didn’t realize that his 12-16-6 (W-L-D) record at the helm of the Impact was actually the best record ever for an MLS expansion team in its first season.
Many don’t realize the difficulty that comes with starting an expansion team. The team is literally built from scratch, a mere few months before the beginning of a season. In that case, it is remarkable that Marsch earned 12 wins in Montreal in 2012.
A big complaint about Marsch was that he didn’t fit the team’s “identity.” It has been argued by many, however, that this team doesn’t even have a true identity anyway. So why not start a new identity with Marsch? He already commented on his desire for creating a new team identity. Yes, I am referring to the now-infamous “energy drink” comment. Many fans were furious when Marsch said, “this is an energy drink.” The quote was blown out of proportion and misinterpreted by thousands of angry fans. The Red Bulls’ coach simply meant that he wanted the team to play “a more dynamic and up-tempo game.”
He was using the effects that energy drinks supposedly have – namely, increased energy and speed – as a metaphor for how he wants his team to play in 2015. I think we can all agree that there is nothing wrong with a dynamic, speedy, energized team taking the field at Red Bull Arena starting in March. For what it’s worth, Marsch even apologized for the comment at the Town Hall Meeting held at Red Bull Arena last Friday, explaining that it was simply meant as a metaphor.
Marsch gets it. This was apparent during the Town Hall Meeting. He understands the anger over Petke. He understands the reluctance to accept him as our leader. He understands that many may never come to like him – and he’s okay with all of that.
The big winner in the Town Hall Meeting was Jesse Marsch. He was the only one (besides Luis Robles) that answered the questions honestly and directly – without all of the “corporate talk” that people quickly grew tired of hearing from Ali Curtis and Marc De Grandpre. He seemed to connect with the fans, making them laugh at certain points, all the while portraying his honesty.
It was undoubtedly a difficult night for him. He came face-to-face with people yelling and cursing at him although he did nothing wrong. No matter what people yelled at him, he took it all in stride. When warned by a fan that he only had one year to be successful, he chose to stop answering the question he was answering, and tell the fan that he accepts the challenge. He knows that he has a difficult road ahead of him, but he’s ready to take it head-on. I respect him for that.
He even tweeted afterwards, commending the fans for their thoughts and passion. It was his first tweet in months, and it was a big one. It told everyone that he was ready to face this, and that he was proud of the fan base he now has to compete for. It is almost impossible for Marsch to earn the same relationship Petke had with the supporters, but this tweet from him is definitely a pretty good start.
Jesse Marsch is not the villain in the recent public relations disaster that was the firing of Mike Petke. For that reason, and for all the reasons above, I have absolutely no feelings of animosity towards him. Obviously, I would have loved to still have Petke coaching this season, but the reality is that he is no longer our coach.
It’s over. They have a new coach now. I disagree with the past decisions made by the club, but I’m personally ready to move forward and get ready to support this club for the 2015 season, and that includes supporting Jesse Marsch.