Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Not a fan

What can I say, I'm not a fan of Bruce Arena. He did well with the US of course but he certainly is not the mastermind many made him out to be.

Here's my PE column that I wrote about Arena's supposed grandiose tenure with the US national team.

I guess I tried to counter some of what Tim Leiweke said about Arena, that the was the best coach in this country or something to the effect. The exact wording is in my column.

Anyway, yes, Arena won two titles but that was in the very early days of MLS. He had a chance to show what he could do with New York and did practically nothing. Okay, getting to the playoffs is an accomplishment, so he accomplished something - two playoff appearances.

But I also tried to break down Arena's coaching record. After all, he won just twice on European soil in his eight years with the national team. And the World Cup disaster was, well, a disaster, something he set in motion with wretched tactics against the Czech Republic.

Arena is a big name and the Galaxy wanted a big name coach. I'm not sure that was the best tactic, though. I think keeping Cobi Jones aboard for the rest of the season would have been the best move. Cobi is a fan favorite and he has the respect of players. And he knows what it means to play for and coach the Galaxy. That might not mean much to AEG but it should.

Oh well. Arena is here and at least now they might have some stability. Since the beginning of the 2006 season, they've already gone through three coaches. Arena is the fourth unless you count Cobi Jones. Seriously, though, I still cant believe Bruce Arena is coaching the Galaxy. Seems very, very strange.

Is there anyone who likes Arena in charge? Am I way off base with my thoughts on Arena?


Anonymous said...

two more points to support your argument luis:
1. making the playoffs in the mls isn't all that hard, the odds are you make them more than miss. (for the love of god i wish mls would move to a table format, scrap conferences). so pulling that in NY, no biggie.
2. tactics against the Czechs???? how about needing to score to move on against Ghana, and coming out in a defensive 4-5-1, forcing lewis and beasley on the field at the same time!!! i wept upon seeing the lineup.
cobi should've been the choice.

jake said...

Im glad someone had the balls to say this. Ive never been a fan of Arena either. 2006 was such an embarrassment, maybe i had high hopes, but the let down of the WC hurt.

I worry Beckham wont be a fan of Bruce and Bruce wont like Becks either. That will be a major downfall for us if any friction arises.

If we still had Cobi coaching, at least the team would have banded together for the remainder of the season. What Bruce keeps saying is turning the team around will take time. He keeps saying it as if he doesnt care about this years playoffs. I also worry he is going to dismantle the team once again and start shipping players out for his version of the LAG. Every coach does it. We gave up Hartman which I was against. I could go on and on.

Anonymous said...

I have always been a fan. He managed very well at UVA and DC United and other than the last six months of his term with the national team, he was very good. We breezed into the World Cup on top of our group which really pissed Mexico off on top of beating Mexico in the World Cup which really pissed Mexico off. The only downer was the lead up to Germany once we had qualified and the poor play in Germany. I think we coasted in and that is his fault.

The European record thing is hard to assess. We could keep playing Poland and rack up the wins or test ourselves against the Spains Italys and Germanys and take the losses along with the experience. Bob Bradley is doing that and I much prefer it to just racking up a good won-loss record.

Finally, I have to admit I don't understand what went wrong with the Red Bulls stint but something did go wrong. Early on he put some life into the team and they made the playoffs. If you look at the Spring of 2007, that team was firing on all cylinders and then they went into a summer swoon they never came out of. Reyna was a bad pick but Angel was an inspired choice. Dane Richards was a great draft pick and Jozy's emergence happened under Arenas. But then he kept tinkering and pretty much obliterated his back line trading away Wynee and Dunivant. Those were weired trades.

Will be interesting to see what he does with LA.

Anonymous said...

I see the downside. Could these be potential positives (a bit thin but still...):

- In Europe, where the Manager's positions is similar to Arena's new arrangement, the assistant coaches (called simply there) have a lot more responsibility for training the players and preparing the squad for games. Does Arena delegate? HOPING this set-up means Cobi's role will be substantive. THAT would be good for everyone.

- Since he does understand things like distance between games and heat during MLS summers, would Arena be less inclined to take his players hither and yon for any promo match that will pay enough pre-season?

- Does "people change" count? He did jump into another tough situation pretty quick after the world cup.

Shirtees.com, I wouldn't worry about whether Beckham likes his coach or not. He wasn't brought up in that culture. As you've seen, he's had success under some famously nasty ones. He only really cares whether the manager works hard to get the most out of the team and works the team hard. Anyway, they'll like each other fine if the team's improving -- and everyone will love each other if they're winning.

Anonymous said...

Typo, sorry... "(called simply coaches there)"

Anonymous said...

When I think of Bruce Arena I think of:

-counter-attacking football
-the 4-5-1
-a man who plays favorites

He did outsmart Javier Aguirre and the Portugese, South Korea in 2002 but mostly I felt that he outsmarted himself during his National team (too long) tenure.


just another one of you said...

Luis, I usually agree with you but on this one I think you're overstating the negatives, although with the lovefest the Galaxy put on I think it's more than justified. I also think you're combining your dislike of the Galaxy orgnization with your dislike of Bruce.

Here's my take - It is obvious to everyone that Arena made mistakes at the nat'l level. For all the conceit and stubbornness Bruce exudes you have to admit that he didn't get to where he got (where ever that is depending on ones perspective) by being an close minded buffoon. The guy has had time to reflect on his failures, and I'm not going to include NYRB as a failure. If you did that you'd have a laundry list of respectable coaches you'd have to toss in the shitter. Look how fast Osorio's stock has fallen (who in their right mind would choose to coach the NYRB over the Fire?!?). That franchise has its own problems (which the Galaxy has seemed to aspire too, oddly enough).

I like that Bruce is in charge. Its great that Cobi is a fan favorite but he is way too inexperienced for a club that has global aspirations (justified or not). There was no point in denying the inevitable and moving on. It's better for Cobi too, he should go ask Frank Yallop. LA was not a good place for him to cut his teeth. Additionally, that team needs someone in charge (not just as coach) who wasn't around for the good times. LA is a shit organization when it comes to on field play, and that seems evident to everyone outside that organization. Bruce knows what the public perception of the Galaxy and himself are, it's written and mentioned everywhere. He has to be humbled by the fact that he can't land a job outside the MLS, and anyone who has followed soccer for more than 5 minutes knows that a coach's achievements matter for all of a minute.

I think Bruce is just the guy to let people like Vagenas and Cronin know just how bad they really are. I don't know how Ruud treated them but I know I would be constantly swearing at certain players on that team.

Now to address somethings in the comments:

Shirtees, if you're worried that Becks might have an issue with a coach like Bruce you must not know the other coaches David has played for. Plus this team doesn't need to be bonded together. It needs to be blown up. That was evident at the end of last season, and little was done other than perpetuating problem areas.

To the various anonymous:

I keep wondering why people bring up the fact that the USMNT played a counter-attacking style of play that relied on bunkering down. Who the hell are we kidding? That team was never going to win a game by trying to control possession or pressing players upfield. Bruce obviously made some poor choices but to look back and only point out the mistakes is just revisionist history.

Anonymous said...

Luis... Are you sure we aren't related???

Those are are most of the points I have been trying to make since the Chivas game and stupid John Harkes was glorifying Arena. Whatever...

Evan said...

Another thing in Cobi's favor...Luis or Andrea, correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember reading that the Galaxy's great run at the end of 2005 with the double came after the players got together and started talking about their tactics and formations, etc. In other words, trying to make sure Sampson was coaching as little as possible.

When I heard about that, I always thought that Cobi was probably one of the players that had the respect of everyone on the team and was likely behind a lot of what happened.

Just a hunch, could be completely wrong, but I thought he could have done some good things the rest of this season.

Anonymous said...

I find the criticism of Arena leading the U.S. to victories over CONCACAF teams pretty vapid.

Of course he led them to victories over CONCACAF teams, that is our region and who we play on a regular basis. Planning on moving the U.S. to Europe sometime soon???

The guy is the best coach in the history of MLS and took the U.S. National Team to places it has never been before. That makes him the best coach in MNT history as well.

You can argue that isn't good enough. But you can't argue it's the best we have ever seen in both cases.

Give me a call when you find someone who does it better.

L.B. said...

Now, I'm not saying I don't find some faults in what Bob Bradley has done but I applaud Bradley for taking the US to Europe and Africa for friendlies against some teams the US normally doesnt have the chance to play instead of playing some shit friendlies against some shit soccer team from this side of the world. Bradley could have tried to schedule some friendlies against some teams in the region to try and simulate how Guatemala, Cuba and/or Jamaica were going to play but instead he said "Screw that, we'll go measure up against the best of the world on their turf and test ourselves that way."

Anonymous said...

i don't like him either but frankly this league needs people who understand the stupid league rules. he does so whatever...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I agree with this last comment Luis. We should quit playing Mexico.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

I think Arena will get more time than many people will realize. Why? Because the Galaxy can't afford to alienate any more high-level coaches; otherwise, the team wouldn't be able to get an AYSO coach here.

Besides, Leiweke gave Arena immense power because Leiweke wants to survive. Leiweke's fate is tied to Arena's. If Arena doesn't work out, Leiweke is gone. Count on it.

Besides, despite the friendly aire, Arena is not the kind of man you screw with. He will chew up and spit out at supersonic speed any incompetent corporate suit who tries to mess with him, the way such magnificant incompetents such as Lalas and Leiweke tried to screw wtih Yallop and Gullit.

Leiweke and AEG know this. They'll give Arena as much time as he needs because he's their last hope. They'll also treat him w/more respect than any coach they previously hired -- because they know the consequences if they don't.

Anonymous said...

I give Arena a lot of credit for the success he's had in coaching. It's hard to deny that.

IMO, his latest failures (USMNT WC 06', NYRB) was a function of his loyalty to Claudio Reyna.

Arena's tactical and technical knowledge of the game is not strong, but his ability to identify good players and manage a team is very stong. Which is why I'm so surptised he never identified Reyna as a major problem in the last world cup and made the mistake of making Reyna the center piece of his team in NY.

If he has been humbled some, and is willing to compensate for his weakness in basic tactical knowledge by having good assistants around him, he could be a big success again.

Anonymous said...

Hey, we became the best team in the region under Arena. Mexico can't touch us now and are a thing of the past. In WC 2006, we were in Europe and several of our players (Reyna, Donovan, Onweyu) were well off form. Besides, New York is where coaches go to die and he took them to the playoffs....

Anonymous said...

I agree that Arena to an extent is a bit overrated. He lacks the tactical acumen to coach in the top leagues, but what he lacks in tactics, he makes up for in the psychological department. He somehow is able to get players to overacheive. This has to do a lot with his personality. Unfortunately, after a while, players stop listening to you if you stay too long, which is one of the reasons that the US bombed out in 2006 as well.

He started calling out players in public, which I'm sure caused nothing but create a negative attitude in the locker room. But his personality is what the Galaxy needs right now. I think under Arena's reign, you're not going to see any nonsense like Simon Fuller at Galaxy press conferences, or anything else related to the Beckham circus. And if AEG pisses him off, you better believe he's going to go public with his complaints and criticisms.

Anonymous said...

The sins of Bruce Arena are many. To name a few: Jeff Agoos being beaten like a rented mule and scoring an own goal in the 2002 World Cup; the disastrous 4-5-1 formation leading to the 3-0 flogging by the Czech Republic in 2006; Eddie Pope, Jeff Agoos redux, waving for offsides as his mark Gilardino went in alone to beat Kasey Keller during the Italy game; Claudio Reyna trying to dribble a ball that begged to be cleared, then injuring himself and falling to the pitch as Ghana scored in the game we had to win.

And Jay Demerit never got called up to the nationaal team.

Will Bruce get Reyna to un-retire again?

Anonymous said...

Wow, Luis is one bitter Mexican.

Remember when he predicted victory for Mexico at the gold cup, and before that in Phoenix. He's always wrong yet somehow he maintains a platfor, by writing insightful pieces in which he reads a list of scores and then repeats the results with minimal details. Bravo.

Anonymous said...

Best piece I've read on Arena. He only has the US nat records that he does because he came in after MLS had a few years to develop players. Any coach they would have hired in 98 would have been the most succesful in US team history, becasue we finally had a league to ild a real player pool.

Aljarov a.k.a Al Clark said...

Damn that was a negative article.

Fernando said...

The spazzos are turning on you Luis! Quick! type up a fluff piece on Donovan!

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Mexico can't touch us now and are a thing of the past.

I wouldn't go that far, Kevin. Right now, Mexico has some good young players: Dos Santos, Guardado, Ochoa and Villaluz, for starters. Besides, Mexico not only has more players in Europe than ever, but those players are staying and, in some cases, starting.

We've all seen how the U.S. national team has developed and grown thanks to its players going to Europe. Mexico now has the same opportunity. What Erikson will do as coach is an open question, right now.