DS, 10.31: Coaching Theory, Playoff Theory + Playoff Strategery

First of all, Happy Halloween. From what my wife tells me, I’m taking the kids trick-or-treating as a nun, so, yeah, I kinda have to get drunk. Dang it.

Oh, and I think I’ve got to get over shoving every subject under discussion into the title; that’s what tags are for, right? This frees me up to reuse the title “Daily Sweeper,” which, I believe anyway, implies a grab-bag of topics. Are we in agreement? Disagreement? Are you hungry too? I’m craving grease like a hungover pregnant lady…perhaps even a nun. Crap…where am I? Oh yeah.

– Apart from revealing himself to be a nice fella (through his reluctance to ask hunted coaches about their job security), USSoccerplayas.com Ian Plenderleith closed his column on La Vida Coacha with an interesting theory as to why a guy like, say, Sigi Schmid still has a job:

“The Crew is probably not sticking with Schmid because they’re in love with his coaching methods, but because there’s no one else around that could take his place. That’s not the best reason to retain a coach, but if you’re a club executive and the list of alternatives begins with, say, Bob Gansler at the top, you’ve probably no choice but to either keep the man you have, or submit to a prolonged bout of weeping.”

It’s an interesting thought. And it could explain why Frank Yallop feels more optimistic about continuing his mortgage payments in Southern California (wade past all the Chivas’ stuff; it’s in there), or why, in spite of multiple columns criticizing his competence and enthusiasm for his job, Bruce Arena still wears that, um…Tomcat Smirk (trying to come up with a phrase analogous to Chesire Smile, but one that actually matches The Bruce’s permanent expression).

On the other hand, I don’t see the limits to the coaching pool Plenderleith sees in the paragraph that follows the one above. A pool exists between former players and even coaches “tainted” by the college game. None of these will be sure-shots by any means, but the conceptual knowledge will be there. When it comes to managing players’ egos, training them well (enough), and fielding the right players in the right places, a fella will either have it or he won’t; a number of these guys will tank, naturally, but how’s that so different from the “name” guy already pulling the team down into the bowl with them? What the hell, right? Roll the dice. It’s a gamble, but you can’t win if you don’t play.

UPDATE: Longshoe makes this same point only better over on Who Ate All the Cupcakes.  It’s worth checking out.

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EPL Daily Halloween ’07: EPL’s Best Imports; An American in Iran, Palacios, and Wonderkids

About to start a feature of the same name, I came upon The Sun’s version of the EPL’s Top 10 best imports. I would have to agree with most of them and would even put Mikel Arteta up higher on the list but if Arteta is on there – where is Timmy Cahill, who has arguably done the most for an Everton squad that performs well on a consistent basis (unlike say…a Bolton?). Also not included – and it’s clear they opted for the more offensive approach – was Serbian central defender Nemanja Vidic who has been rock-solid for Manchester United in his first year and half in the league. The Sun’s Number One? Cristiano Ronaldo – I don’t think many can complain about that. Any they missed?

Not EPL news persay – but it was in an English publication – Iranian soccer hopefuls don’t know how to react with the prospect of an American citizen Afshin Ghotbi taking over the reins of Persepolis (Tehran’s biggest team) looming over them. Ghotbi hasn’t returned to the country in over 30 years. He began his coaching career at UCLA, found his way onto the USMNT staff for the 1998 World Cup in France and has now acted as somewhat of a coaching mercenary over the past 10 years. Read about it here

Wilson Palacios – the former CD Olimpia midfielder and now Birmingham City man who gave D.C. United a lot of trouble in the early season CONCACAF Champions Cup – has recently found out that his 15-year old brother – Edwin Rene – has been kidnapped. No real news as of yet – Palacios is staying in the UK but apparently has clearance from Steve Bruce and the Birmingham organization to leave if ever he deems it fit to do so.

Yet another 16-year old phenom on the rise? John Bostock of Crystal Palace looks to follow the route of Joe Cole, Wayne Rooney, and Theo Walcott and become the next coveted English prospect. His story is interesting but no one can fathom the thoughts going through Scotskid James McCarthy’s head right now as Barcelona, Liverpool, Celtic, Deportivo, and Arsenal are ALL fighting for his signature. As it seems, he’s pretty content to develop at Hamilton Academical and move on when necessary – but you can bet if Barca comes a-knocking it won’t take too much cash to pry him away.