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Dead Man Walking: Backe says he’s done as RBNY head coach after 2012

Photo by Tony Quinn/


When Erik Soler was given the boot as New York Red Bulls general manager earlier this month, it was pretty clear that Hans Backe days as head coach were numbered.

Backe revealed just how little time he has left, telling a Swedish newspaper that he would leave the Red Bulls after the 2012 season.

Currently in the final year of a three-year contract as head coach, told Expressen that he will leave the Red Bulls and return to Sweden in December after the 2012 season.

The news shouldn’t come as a surprise considering Backe’s tenure as Red Bulls head coach has been marked by inconsistency and disappointment despite the fact the team has spent more money on player salaries than any other team in MLS.

The Red Bulls have made the playoffs during Backe’s first two seasons in charge, but lost in the first round of the playoffs in each of those campaigns. The 2012 season has been another up and down campaign, marked by questionable coaching decisions and underachievement. The Red Bulls are currently in fourth place in the East, and have yet to secure a playoff spot with two matches remaining in the regular season.

With Backe’s future settled, the Red Bulls will now go into the off-season looking for a coach, and sources have told SBI that Scottish manager Gary McAllister is a front-runner to take the job. New Red Bulls general manager Jerome De Bontin stated recently that the team’s decision on its coaching position would be determined when the team hired a new technical director.

Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier  is the head of global soccer for Red Bull and will ultimately make the decision on the new coach. That makes McAllister, a Liverpool player and Aston Villa assistant coach for Houllier, a leading candidate for the position.

What do you think of this development? Think Backe’s time has come or do you think the Red Bulls are making a mistake? Who would you like to see take over as Red Bulls head coach?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Not to say that Ballack in an attacking midfield role would not have worked but, the speedy/technical winger along side guys playing in position would work for this team in the right formation.

    Kaka sounds like a great option but what would the line-up be?

    Solli and Cahill along side him?

    Play guys to their strengths and don’t let Sporting KC play kickball while punching you int he face.

  2. Eric Soler deserved a another season.

    Without question, Hans Backe stands as a coach of the year candidate

    His style unfortunately, evolved into a listen to what TT and others have to say about winning football in MLS.

    The team shored up its defensive issues by bringing in 3 solid keepers, and reshaping the back line.

    The coach did the best he could and if given enough time, with maybe an influx of matching talent (i.e., a LLoyd Sam over Ballack) then this team could potentially BE one of the best sides in MLS.

    The current players are obviously confused of their roles on the team, with injuries, style of play change, and line-up shuffling.

    Unfortunately, Backe may or may not return.

    Bring in a guy that will implement a system and stick with it.

    There are consistent winners in MLS, who play an attractive/winning style

    How do they do it?

  3. Another brilliant move by RBNY and the timing, my gosh, PERFECT! NY Red n White how u manage to turn me into an Alcoholic over night.

  4. Great timing guys! Sure, with the team on the verge of missing the playoffs (I have little faith of us being KC) now is a great time to put more stress on the team. Our roster looks strong on paper; too bad it doesn’t translate to the field!! This year is typical – start strong and completely fall apart in the final stretch.

  5. Wise decision, terrible timing. Backe wasn’t the disaster some paint him to be, but he could never solve the team’s persistent problems and could never get them over the hump to be a truly top-notch squad. Whether it was his lineup decisions, (non-)substitutions, or tactics, he has not gotten everything he could/should have gotten out of this team. Coaches are let go for such reasons all the time.

    Soler deserves the “advisor” role he has gotten. After some missteps, his record on player acquisitions has been a good one over the last few years. The roster is stronger thanks to his efforts.

  6. Whatever. Backe had his run, didn’t yield trophies, time to go. As I look at the team it has no identity. Its like tactics change from game to game with no regard for in form players. Its one thing to tinker with a lineup when your winning games, but to do it when form and league standing are slipping is a mystery. Whoever the next coach will be, one thing is for certain, TH14 will have a huge hand in picking him.

    Possible candidates I’d like to see in no particular order.

    Harry Redknapp
    Carlos Somoano (head coach at UNC)
    Laurent Blanc (a long shot but have to consider the french connection. he got a raw deal with France)

  7. Seems to me of the managers hired in the last few years, it’s been guys with lots of inside experience who have done the best, although that is not a guarantee of success. Of particular note are the TD to head coach moves in KC and Chicago, those seems to have worked out particularly well. Similar move hasn’t helped Portland though. Whoever NYRB brings in, that person will be expected to have some success in the short term, and that almost always ends in tears*.

    * says the TFC fan.

  8. I agree with Old School. No team should be messing with management issues during the season. Focus. Now if they don’t win the Cup everyone will say Backe had one foot out the door and didn’t care anyway. I also agree with Ives. Backe if Far from the best coach in Metro/NYRB history.

    Ives, what do you think of Zambrano coming back? I’m sure he had a TON to due with KC’s turn around. Don’t you?

  9. It will never happen for a multitude of reasons, but if ever a team was calling for Richie Williams, it is the 2013 red bulls.

  10. In the middle if the playoff hunt, upper management has essentially indicated Backe is out. So, if you are Backe, of course you take the “well, who needs you, I’m not coming back” approach. The timing of all of this reeks of amateur club management.

  11. DPs aside on RBNY, saying that they have the highest payroll in the league should be a given seeing as though they are in the highest cost of living city in MLS. They have to adjust salaries for lower tiered players accordingly otherwise their agents would tell them not to go. Flawed stat.

  12. Mediocrity??? Backe was the best coach in the history of the New York franchise. He had the third best team in the league before the Red Bulls completely pulled the rug out from under him a few weeks ago. It’s a shame what’s happening to him and this team right now.

    • Pat, Backe was hardly the best coach in New York history. What did he win? He had more resources than any coach in team history and never even won a playoff series. Octavio Zambrano got the team within a game of a final and the 2000 team is still, for my money, the best team in club history. You can argue Bob Bradley did better with less resources (two playoff berths and an Open Cup Final). As things stand, Backe could wind up having dragged a star-studded team through the wild card round for two straight years. As for pulling the rug from under him, Soler’s firing isn’t the reason Backe is in the last year of his contract. Clearly even Soler wasn’t convinced of Backe’s results if he couldn’t get him a contract extension before this season.

      • How could you argue Bradley was better than Backe? Bradley in his 3 years finished 3rd in the East, 3rd and 4th. Backe in his 3 years finished 1st, 5th and is 2nd this year. Granted Backe has expensive DPs, however, so does Toronto and they’re last. There was outrage when Bradley was fired by the local media. Why is the local media happy about Backe getting let go? Is it because Bob Bradley and his brother Jeff had a close relationship with local media and they shared leaks? Backe isn’t very friendly and doesnt share leaks so he gets poor coverage.

  13. Given where the club was when Erik Soler and Hans Backe joined, I don’t agree that their tenure “has been marked by mediocrity” Disappointment and inconsistency yes, but the team’s play over the last three years was better than average compared to the club’s historical past and New York may have advanced in the playoffs past the Earthquakes and the Galaxy if not for miscues by Roy Miller, Rafa Marquez and others. The point is, they were very close to doing damage, so I would not call that mediocre. The timing of the recent announcements of the changes can not be helping the team right now so the club itself is not making it easy for themselves.

    This year, one of the better ones in club history for the New York franchise, seems to be falling short of the strong, younger teams that Peter Vermes and Frank Yallop have built, and strangely the club plays much differently away from home whereas SKC brings their same game everywhere it plays. To me, Erik Soler has done a fantastic job at the GM spot but Hans Backe has not gotten the team to play more consistently.

    It appears as if Jerome De Bontin is taking over Chris Heck’s role and hopefully will bring back some of the season ticket holder-oriented perks that were discarded.

    The club’s history is littered with GMs and Coaches that were given a short leash to produce a winner which leads to a “win now at all costs” mentality and turnover that doesn’t help building a team because there is so much rebuilding; older players constantly changing and getting use to one another and younger players not getting minutes before being traded or released. Soler and Backe stayed relatively long and did better than most if not all prior FO tandems, and the team is playing relatively well but needs to be more consistent.

    I think Erik Soler deserved to stay on with Jerome and that the former’s shoes will be hard to fill. I think the team needs more speed and athleticism and a new coach who can get the team to play more consistently. I don’t know who that coach would be.

  14. I think this entire process, while justified perhaps, reeks off too much caffeine. Slow down and play for the Cup, THEN address matters.

    This much chaos while in contention is nuts.

    • Couldn’t agree more Old School. How about that?

      Why announce now? Backe is helping his team how with this now? Does Backe think this will inspire his team to win it all for him before he leaves (pretty grandiose if that’s it)?

      anyway, I wanted to like NY when Henry arrived but then they brought in Marquez which made rooting for them impossible, just impossible. I think that signing has hurt Backe’s ability to succeed.

      I do want the big names who come to MLS to thrive so other big names will follow suit, you know? I like the Rosales and Ferreira and Montero and Garcia and Higuain type signings, but I like the high end signings too, like Henry. Switch Marquez for Kaka next year and watch out IF Kaka plays motivated ball (or whoever takes Marquez’ spot). Would seem to me like an excellent MLS coaching job with the resources available

  15. I would a top european coach due to fact you have TT, hill, and maybe kaka in the plans. So go get a top european coach or south american coach with a top mls experienced coach as an assistant. You can even get bielsa, javier aguirre, maradona jk, wynalda. U need to do a mls partner up with a top coach from the soccer world. as a matter of fact, what if the mls adds another dp or raise the salary cup for next year in order to get the league ready for the cosmos team in 2016. As for expansion, the east will have 12 teams for sure by 2017 and the west 10. Isn’t las vegas almost done with a soccer stadium and u still got in the east a buffet of markets with stadium plans like baltimore,miami,orlando, st.lous, detroit,minnesota, atl, raleigh nc but the west sounds dead.

    • Not sure you need a top European or South American coach to win in MLS. Evidence would show other wise thatAmerican coaches or coaches who have played in MLS do better.

      On Expansion in the west. Houston would most likely roll over to the west and possibly Chicago or Kansas City if there were a lot of expansion in the East. CIties that would be expansion sites in the west. St Louis could technically be a west expansion. San Antonio, Phoinex, San Diego are also cities where expansion could fit. I know San antonio is building a soccer stadium thatcould expand beyond its original size of 10 thousand.


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