HARRISON, NJ - JUNE 10: Head Coach Steve Nicol of the New England Revolution reacts during their game against the New York Red Bulls on June 10, 2011 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)
With frustrations mounting around the Revolution fan nation over the team's forgettable season, many fingers (including our own) have been pointing to Steve Nicol. While just about any Revs fan will give due credit to Stevie's years with the team, especially the Revs' MLS Cup Final years of 2005-2007, sometimes a change is the best solution.
With that in mind, I've been pondering lately who might be best suited to replace Nicol at the helm. Lots of names came to mind, and I'm sure everyone's got their own opinions, but I've whittled down a list of the top 3 people (in no particular order) I think should be considered to take over.
1) Bob Bradley. Yeah, this one might be an obvious one, but the former US National Team manager has a great deal of experience under his belt and, despite being linked with the Egyptian National Team as well as having just lost out on a head coaching job for the Mexican side Santos Laguna, is currently still unemployed. Bradley would not only bring his experience-which includes time in Major League Soccer with DC United, the Chicago Fire, the New York Metrostars, and Chivas USA-but he would bring to the club a name that people know. Bradley's reputation certainly isn't sterling, having just recently been canned from the US National side in favor of Jurgen Klinnsman, but he would have a great opportunity to revive his MLS career and start a much needed new chapter for both himself and the Revolution.
2) Paul Mariner. Mariner hails from the other side of the pond, not unlike Nicol, but has less experience in coaching. He did, however, serve as Nicol's assistant coach at New England beginning in 2004 after a year as the assistant coach for Harvard University. In 2009 Mariner returned to England to become the head coach of Plymouth Argyle. After a less than ideal season with Plymouth, Mariner accepted a new gig as the Director of Player Development for eastern conference foes Toronto FC which he remains doing today. Mariner could bring in a fresh perspective and a familiarity with the Revs and of course MLS, as well as a skill set capable of working on player development-something that the Revolution could use some help with. It's unlikely that Mariner would break the bank for Kraft to hire on (unlike Bob Bradley who might be looking for a somewhat more sizeable salary) and it has the potential to be a mutually advantageous move.
3) Steve Ralston. Revolution fans know the name all too well as it is listed along with many other New England greats. His success with the Revolution and in MLS in general speaks for itself but his coaching career is still very young. After leaving the Revs, Ralston took an assistant coach position (as well as being a starting midfielder) for AC St. Louis back in his home state of Missouri. The club's financial issues lead to Ralston's exit at which time he became the assistant coach for the Houton Dynamo where he is today. This option might be more of a risk as Ralston is pretty much unproven as a head coach, having never been one in his still fledgling coaching career, but it would be a great morale boost for both the team and fans alike. He would face quite a challenge but surely would have enough support to meet it.
So, those are some potential candidates I came up with. If Nicol and the Revs do part ways, it will certainly be bittersweet. But it has become more and more evident over the course of this season that Nicol might not be the best fit anymore. And if this team wants to get back on track, I just can't see it happening with Stevie.
What do you think? Who would you like to see take the reigns for the Revs? Leave your own nominees and thoughts in the comments section below.