Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Natives are Restless

We are now (unofficially) a week or so into the "Erik Solér Era" in New York and there has still not been official word from the Red Bull front office that Solér has actually been hired, even though it's been reported as a done deal just about everywhere (including his home country of Norway). In fact, Solér himself announced on the Norwegian TV Champions League coverage that New York was his next destination.

What's more, we have absolutely no idea what the club is thinking about regarding the manager position. Richie Williams remains in limbo, though Steven Goff of the Washington Post is reporting that DC United is leaning toward a foreign or college coach. Ives Galarcep speculates that former Arsenal defender and Wycombe/Portsmouth managerial flop Tony Adams might be in the picture, through his association with Mr. Popular, Thierry Henry. Could Jürgen Klinsmann be a possibility? He stated this week that he will not be returning to the German Bundesliga to manage, but might be elsewhere after his World Cup broadcast duties are completed. Of course, by then Liverpool or Manchester City may be calling his name. One man who will definitely not be coming back to Jersey is former Metrostars manager Octavio Zambrano. OZ has taken a job as Peter Vermes' assistant in Kansas City. So we sit and wait, as the RBNY PR gears grind slowly. You would think that an announcement before the weekend would be improbable, with the World Cup draw happening on Friday and likely to occupy the attention of the US soccer media.

In the meantime, I've been able to piece together a few bits and pieces from various sources about Solér and his time at Norwegian club IK Start. Big Soccer poster Start Fan in Exile gave his assessment of Solér's tenure at his club:

Solér was a big hero when he came to Start in 2002; the team was near bankrupt after years of financial mismanagement but he came in with fresh cash and a positive, inspirational attitude and turned things around. The surprising league silver in 2005 was directly due to his involvement and the moves he made.

Unfortunately, as you mentioned, he promised far more than he could deliver and things started to unravel a little. The two killers were the rather disastrous appointment of [former Liverpool player] Stig Inge Bjørnebye as head coach and the construction of a new stadium which ended up costing far more than projected. The latter was the catalyst for Solér being forced out of the club by the major investors.

That said, many Start supporters remember him fondly; he loves football and gave a lot of himself to the club. Not all his moves were successful but they all came from a genuine desire to see the club succeed.

Will he be the right man for Red Bull NY? I don't know. But I don't think you'll need to question his commitment.
That's encouraging to a certain extent, but Solér will be at more of a disadvantage in MLS, working within a much stricter salary structure and having to rely on knowledgeable assistants to help him navigate the US soccer landscape.

Finally, as we sit and wait like Judge Smails, here is a video evidence that Solér at least has a sense of humor, which should help him enormously when dealing with an organization as laughably dysfunctional as the MetroBulls have been:

Lars Sivertsen at the excellent Nordic Football News explains:

Haha! It's about a charity thing that was aired on TV3 a few days ago. She asks him what he is going to do to contribute and he says "As Norway's most sexy man in 1984, I feel that I've already done enough." She says "Yes, that was then, but what about the money?" He answers that he'll give 100kr for every touch on the ball and he encourages the hundred thousands of football experts at home to do the same.

It's good, a bit of irony and self-awareness never hurt anyone.

The girl, incidentally, is a former Miss World contestant who is now trying to re-invent herself as a television personality. Which is difficult, since she's a bit lacking in the personality department.
Yeah I know what you're saying - who cares about her personality?
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