Monday, August 11, 2008
Cobi answers the call
After Frank Yallop resigned, I was wondering if the head coaching position at the Galaxy might be offered to Cobi Jones. It wasn't, of course, at least not directly.
Thing is, when I was talking to Cobi about becoming Ruud's assistant, back when they were introduced together as a team, there was one thing he made expressly clear. He wasn't interesting in becoming an assistant anywhere else other than the Galaxy. He deferred to Ruud's accomplishments and experience, but Cobi clearly had his eye on taking over eventually.
"If I was going to be an assistant coach, it wasn’t going to be with any other organization. To be honest, the fact that it’s Ruud Gullit makes it possible for me to do this. Unless it was someone of his stature, I probably wouldn’t have put myself in the position of being the assistant coach," Cobi said.
At the time, I remember thinking, "Well, that makes sense. Even if Gullit does well, I don't really see him staying in MLS - he'll probably go back to Europe at some point, and then Cobi can step up and in."
I wondered if Cobi had been offered, or would be interested in accepting a head coaching job for another MLS team, so I asked him.
"That’s always the possibility. I’m not writing off anything, but I know that my immediate future is to be the assistant coach here. I’d say that it doesn’t put me on a different path – it opens up another path."
MLS continues its run of being somewhat unkind to foreign coaches. They just don't seem to last long in the league - exceptions being those who understand it well from having played here first - like Steve Nicol (Granted, Steve didn't play all that long for the Revs, but he definitely was familiar with the American game from A-League.)
I don't buy the resignation story. Gullit's quote the day that his signing was announced turned out to be prophetic.
"Sometimes there are forces behind the scenes. The only certainty you have as a coach is that you’re going to be sacked."
I guess we'll see what Cobi can do as a coach for the rest of the season. I'm not sure he'll stay there, however. With Lalas out, Cobi could eventually set his sights on the GM job and hire an MLS veteran - Paul Mariner, perhaps - to handle the game-to-game reins. Cobi isn't as given to grand or preposterous statements the way Lalas was, and yet his profile is high enough to still be a very effective leader of the franchise.
The turnover doesn't necessarily doom the franchise, but I'm not sure it helps, either. At some point, stability is important to establish a sense of continuity, and I don't think the Galaxy have had that in years. Yet if anyone has a sense of what the Galaxy organization needs to be successful, it's Cobi.
"We are the Los Angeles Galaxy. We are going to attract attention. I think that was one of the points that was made clear. You need to be able to perform under pressure. That’s something that I think all the players that are in there need to learn. But it shouldn’t be stressful. You should relish that. I did. I loved it."