New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch has not had the ideal start to his tenure at the club. The circumstances of his arrival were, to the say the least, upsetting to many fans.
He didn't fire Mike Petke, so it's not his fault he's here and Mike is not, but -- to paraphrase Ali Curtis -- the anger of many supporters is not due to any particular feeling about Jesse Marsch, it is about a respect and affection for Petke, and the distress incurred by his out-of-the-blue dismissal.
It's not personal, because Jesse Marsch hasn't really been here long enough for many fans to know much about him as a person. Or a coach, for that matter.
Unfortunately, he made things a little worse for himself by almost immediately settling on an absurd metaphor for his tactics. And at the Super Draft, he made comments that suggested he wasn't quite as plugged into the latest publicly available information about high-profile MLS transfers as a head coach in the league perhaps ought to be.
Still, all we really know about him at the moment is that he did an OK job in his one-and-done year at Montreal Impact, has regrettable taste in metaphors, and sticks to the script he's been given on potentially sensitive subjects a little too faithfully on occasion.
Credit where it is due, however: not everything he says is from or about a can (of energy drink). At the MLS Draft he made comments about his new team's fans -- fans who spent much of the afternoon in Philadelphia making their presence and views known to the new coach.
Here's what he had to say:
Right now the focus on the draft. We have this town hall meeting tomorrow night, and we are going to address some things with the club internally at that point. But, listen, I'm excited to be here, I'm excited to have passionate fans, you know, that's great things to have as a club, and so certainly, we are not going to back away or back down from any of that. I'm excited to be here and I expect big things out of our club.
Sounds like Marsch is happy for fans to be fans, take the rough with the smooth on that front, and let his team's soccer do most of the talking for him. This seems an entirely reasonable position to take, especially since his actual talking hasn't helped him out too much so far.
He's in for a potentially rough ride at the team's Town Hall meeting, but it sounds as though he has things in perspective. And if he's still following a script - well, that simply implies Curtis and de Grandpre are on the same page.
Good luck to you, Jesse; as you seem to understand, it's not personal. Fans expect their team to be held accountable for results on the field, which is a point of view one suspects a coach finds easy to endorse. Petke's results on the field did not add up to a need to change direction. If you find the same, or greater, success as your predecessor, it is likely you will hope to be allowed to continue your work. And this particular manifestation of fan passion may have a role in securing that future for you.