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Gab At A Glance: Push Me, Bull You

Kevin Thelwell is just playing the field here in New York, or so says the hottest new Red Bulls podcast

Bolton Wanderers v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

One of the most important aspects of any podcast experience is audience feedback. Shows will solicit questions and criticisms from listeners, which can in turn be used to generate intelligent conversation or thinly veiled mockery. Push Me, Bull You is a bi-weekly podcast that enjoys regular correspondence from readers and dedicates the final third of every episode to responding. The most recent output, S10E14: Coaching Rumors… or is it Rumours?, featured the hosts addressing a query pertaining to the New York Red Bulls’ staff.

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Seth: And here’s a question from a frequent emailer, Larry of Staten Island. Larry writes, “Hello, Seth and Brian. I was wondering if Red Bulls sporting director Kevin Thelwell is going to stick with the club for a while. He came here after a long stint with Wolves, but the move seems almost unprecedented for a Premier League head honcho to make his way to little old MLS. How long do you think he will be in New York?”

That is a great question, Larry. Thanks for writing in. Well, I think he was at Wolverhampton for a long time, but that’s not to say he’s going to immediately leave the Red Bulls for the first bigger club that comes calling. If anything, that he made such an unexpected jump to the United States indicates that he is here for the long haul. Perhaps despite recently coming out of his long employment with Wolverhampton, he really was a guy searching for something new that would provide him with a different kind of challenge while also supporting him. You know, maybe Kevin Thelwell was “looking for the Jim to his Pam” as the kids like to say.

Any thoughts, Brian?

Brian: Yeah, a few. I’m intrigued by your dating and relationship analogy.

Seth: My dating and relationship an-

Brian: Because if you think of it that way, perhaps Kevin Thelwell is coming out of that long, passionate relationship with Wolverhampton. You know, both he and the club got together at lower points in their life, before all the glitz and the glamor. They grew together, discovered each other’s faults, and, most importantly, there was real passion there. They chose and accepted one another at their most basic when they each had nothing. And then, of course, maybe they broke up because he was no longer fulfilling the club’s needs or Wolverhampton had found someone else who was more exciting and could provide greater resources and results. Or, hell, maybe they just grew apart and fell out of love. And that’s fine, it happens, but you’re forced to pick up the pieces and move on, while accepting that some unable-to-be-recovered part of you will always be left behind with the club who turned you away.

So, Thelwell goes out and he attempts to find something new, and he does. He finds a club that has stability and security and money but has recently lost its true captain and architect in Ralf Rangnick. They’re looking for someone too. And, oh, boy, it’s everything Thelwell claims he wanted, even though his list of requirements was more of a rebuke of past experiences than an open mind toward new ones. So, he enters into this new partnership and it provides all the idyllic support he could want. He’s allowed to pursue his goals and set his standards and there’s no friction. But do you know what’s missing?

Seth: I don’t k-

Brian: Passion. That’s what’s missing. Because when you take away all the plans and transfer budgets and support system, you realize that you’re just a coach at a club and you’re in a functional partnership, but functional doesn’t light the fire. And then you make another realization that you weren’t running toward Red Bull but away from something else. And how is that fair to your new club?

So you now have three options. Option one: stay in this stable purgatory for an eternity, neither side giving as much effort as they could because there’s no more pressure and no more love, which eventually builds into a dull, unmotivated resentment between a person and a club that chose each other for what they are instead of who they are.

Option two: head back to the first club, hat in hand, and desperately beg for a second chance even though they don’t need you and have achieved previously undiscovered heights without you.

Option three: leave the Red Bulls and pursue that passionate feeling, that original love, with anything resembling that first club, resulting in diminishing returns and bouncing around from city to city as you fail to recreate the exact set of circumstances that titillated and enthralled you in the first place.

Because that’s what happens as you age, you’re stuck settling for something you don’t want or chasing something you can’t have.

[A few moments of silence.]

Seth: So… uh, how’s Julie?

Brian: Great.

Seth: And the kids?

Brian: Stu-pendous.

[A few moments of silence.]

Seth: And here’s an email from John who asks, “Should the Red Bulls sign a DP?”

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Push Me, Bull You remains a beloved institution of Red Bulls fandom, but the show experienced a noticeable dip in its stoic listener base following the events of episode S10E22.

It is understood by Once a Metro that Kevin Thelwell has never described his current club, MLS, or the tri-state area as “purgatory.”