Hans Backe is the best manager in Red Bulls history.
For all his faults, and there are many, the numbers, crunched by Steve Davis over at Pro Soccer Talk, don't lie. Backe's got a winning percentage nearly 50 points higher than his next closest competitor, Mo Johnston. His next win will make him the team's second winningest coach and, being only 9 wins behind, might by the end of the season oust Octavio Zambrano at number 1. If his deal is extended -- it's up at the end of the year -- he'll be the longest-tenured coach the team's ever had.
But if we're being honest in all this, it's a bit like saying Backe is the smartest kid with down syndrome.
It's no secret Backe's come under significant scrutiny during his tenure in Harrison, or Davis' "poison pellets," but when the team has a displayed a near-comical amount of ineptitude over it's 17 years of existence, praising a guy who's got the team in the playoffs two years running is...nice. And deserved. To some degree.
But let's take Backe's success in context, and more importantly, stride.
He does make his "quirky choices," but those "quirky choices" are a little more serious when they lead to U.S. Open Cup exits because the quirk is that he doesn't even go to the match. He seemingly protects "his guys," like Mehdi Ballouchy and Roy Miller, choosing them over possible replacements. And sometimes his "quirky choice" is none at all, since he seldom uses subs.
Couple that with the aforementioned ineptitude and having our best ever coach manning the bench is cold comfort, so you can forgive us for holding out on our affection on our "best ever." It's true there are times and things for which and when he gets unwarranted criticism, but the feeling the bottom is going to fall out of all this at any moment is still prevalent, and Backe does little to inspire confidence it won't.