TSG Note: Catching up on comments this morning, a few of you were wondering why we hadn’t mentioned Guus Hiddink. So…here you go.
With Russia getting bounced from World Cup contention last week it has been widely speculated that super-coach Guus Hiddink could be back on the market. Furthermore, it has been suggested by some American soccer “pundits” and fans alike, that Mr. Gulati should have Hiddink on speed-dial should that happen with an offer handing over the keys to the USMNT kingdom.
Let’s put aside the facts that
a) Hiddink’s ties to Chelsea owner and Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich may not be severed anytime soon,
b) Sunil Gulati has categorically stated that Bob Bradley will coach the USMNT through the World Cup, and
c) Hiddink said in an interview in the past few days that he would make a decision on his next move (Argentina? Chelsea?) within the next few months.
Let’s also assume that Hiddink actually rang up Soccer House and offered his services, but only through the 2010 World Cup.
What should US Soccer do? More specifically, what is best for the US squad seven months away from kick-off at the World Cup? And since we haven’t asked this question directly on TSG, why bounce Bob Bradley?
The Phone Call
Say “thanks, but no thanks” to Comrade Hiddink, even if the coach suggests a technical director position. The US isn’t Argentina with a head coach that is clearly in way over his head, a Bradley-Hiddink combo is doubtful to work.
What is best for the US squad?
With the USMNT struggling to field a team of eleven international-quality players who are fit, adding a new head coach to the mix at this late juncture would be, to quote commenter Kaya, “ridiculous.”
Consider that in Guus’ two most recent World Cup finals stops (South Korea and Australia) he had at least a year to work with the squad. Also, subtract two months from the available time-frame as Hiddink wouldn’t get to work with the team until January leaving less than six months to put together the USMNT squad.
Bringing on a new coach at this juncture would be risky at best and have implications beyond South Africa ’10.
Why bounce Bob Bradley?
From what I can tell by cruising around the ‘net, one is either on the Fire Bob Bradley bandwagon or labeled a Bradley Apologist. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between. Not sure why that is, but perhaps I will put myself in a country of one.
Bob Bradley has his struggles (specifically, in-game management), but he has also done some good things with the talent available and turned a collection of individuals into a team.
Bradley’s familiarity with entire player pool and the bonds developed through triumph (Spain / Honduras) and tragedy (Charlie Davies) are important heading into the World Cup with a most uncertain squad. He has performed admirably enough to carry the USMNT, his team, through the World Cup.
The stark reality of firing a coach is that you have to hire another one that is only guaranteed of “looking good on paper.” Every coach could be better, especially one of an inconsistent team, but there is no reason to blow-up a to-date successful program seven months out of a World Cup…even if Hiddink was available.