Monday, August 18, 2008

Grading Ruud

Before everyone moves forward with the Bruce Arena Era, I thought about trying to put some perspective with Ruud Gullit and his time with the Galaxy. I was actually considering writing a column on this but Arena's taken over so there goes that.

I wanted to compare Ruud with other big-name foreign coaches who failed in MLS. I came up with a list of six and tried to order them but kinda stopped there since it became apparent I wasn't going to write about it.

So I'll ask our readers to help sort out the list.


I wanted to do the Top 10 Foreign Coaching Busts but limited it to seven because there seemed to be a dropoff from the top seven to the rest. Plus, many of the others weren't that big of names.

So here are the seven in alphabetical order:

Ruud Gullit; 6-8-5, Galaxy (08)
Mo Johnston; 10-20-15, NY (05-06), Toronto (07)
Bora Milutinovic; 8-25-0, NY (98-99)
Carlos Alberto Parreira; 13-19-0, NY (97)
Carlos Quieroz; 12-12-0, NY (96)
Hans Westerhof; 3-14-4, Chivas USA (05)
Walter Zenga; 13-23-0, New England (98-99)

No coach on the list has a winning record. I think big things were expected from most if not all of these coaches and some of them have gone on to bigger and better things.

Anyway, where do you think Ruud ranks in this list? How would you rank the list in terms of biggest flops? Is there someone who doesn't belong on this list or someone I didn't include that does?

6 comments:

Longshoe said...

I always think of Bora as the biggest flop, he was absolutely horrible in NY. Mo didn't feel like a flop to me, I thought he had things going in a decent direction until it got blown up.

Ruud has to be pretty high on the list. He had a lot of talent to work with, even if it was mostly on the offensive side of things. It seemed like he was never truly in control of the team, he never seemed to have their respect. After hearing some of the things Donovan and Albright have said, I think that was his biggest problem.

Mon-sewer Paul Regret said...

While I tend to subscribe to the "Lalas is the only GM in sports who is worse than Brian Sabean" school of thought, I'd say that Ruud's legacy with MLS can be summed up in the fact that he didn't even manage to get through a single season (and I doubt he'll be back). Beckham's value obviously includes off-field stuff, but I don't question his commitment to the league. Ruud? To use players as a metaphor, Ruud was Matthäus, not Donadoni.

Earthquake fans can see how important commitment is. Darren Huckerby is not a player on the level of any of the above, but in his brief MLS career so far, he has delighted us with his balls-out approach and evident love of playing. Again, it's not an exact comparison to look at Ruud next to players, but as a fan, at least, I never got the feeling Gullit actually wanted to be here.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

First, l.b., let me say that a friend of mine who serves on the USS George Washington likes your work on SI.com and thinks you're a good writer; I visited him in San Diego last night.

Second, I'm not sure if it's fair to include Westerhof on your list. Sure, his record was awful but the team he inherited from Thomas Rongen was awful. I doubt if any coach would have done better.

Third, this was what Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney said about Gullit in his piece on the front-office shakeup:

Gullit passed up the MLS draft to attend to "family matters," responded with a quizzical look when asked about drafted players, seldom hung around the Galaxy offices to work the phones or watch tape, complained about MLS player-acquisition processes and the reserve league...

On the one hand, it's very possible that Gullit had legitimate family problems; he admitted to the Times of London that he wasn't always the best husband or father. Perhaps coming to America was the fresh personal start he was looking for and didn't get.

Nevertheless, if Mahoney is accurate, then Gullit showed severe professional contempt not only for his bosses but also for his players. Granted, Leiweke is a snake but that's another issue. No coach who demonstrates the laziness that Mahoney alleges about Gullit deserves to coach in Albania's fourth division, let alone in MLS.

microbrew said...

New York sure knows how to chew up coaches and spit 'em out.

Anonymous said...

let's face it in MLS you actually have to coach. in europe you just have to make sure you buy the right guys(you're more of a scout i think). i mean everyone praises alex ferguson but if i had a budget like he has not even i can fuck it up. MLS teams should look to hire ex MLS players or succesful youth coaches (that is where the real coaching is).

Anonymous said...

I think the win/loss records for the foreign coaches in the early years in MLS are a bit skewed because there were no draws those years, and I'm sure a few of those losses came from the god-awful shootout. Right now, though it looks like Bora and Westerhof might be the worst of the bunch. Also you might want to add John Carver to the list at the end of this season as well.