Thoughts On Harkes’ Departure

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A day after the dismissal of John Harkes as head coach of FC Cincinnati, there’s no additional information about the circumstances of his departure. I’m sure the club prefers not to air its laundry any more than is necessary and wants to refocus attention on the team and the season ahead. Time will tell whether Harkes comes forward with more information about what actually transpired. Until that happens or some inside information leaks, any analysis of the reason for his dismissal is just speculation.

People are going to speculate. It’s human nature to speculate whether it’s helpful or not. Without a clear understanding of what happened and why, speculation will result.

John Harkes, both as a name and as a man, brought excitement and passion to the club. He also presented himself as a genuine guy that cared about the city, the club, its supporters and its success. He brought a sense of humor to most of his interactions that many appreciated. Just last Monday, I brought my two young daughters to a book signing and he was there at the end of a two hour session, happily engaging with them in a fun and genuine way. People connected with that and will miss it.

It’s ok for fans to be shocked and angry about the change. Supporters need time to react, have their say, think about what it means, and get over it to whatever extent they need to. People adjust to change and bad news differently, and at different speeds. What seems certain though is that Harkes isn’t coming back, so let’s get that process started.

The firing is significant and shocking because of the weight of the Harkes name, and the perceived success of the first season. He is a U.S. soccer legend. It was clearly a successful 2016 season. There must have been a very good reason to change the recipe so significantly just before the start of this year’s campaign.

The dismissal is also significant and shocking because of the unusual timing of the event. Coaches and players come and go. Their time with any particular club is often no more than a few years. They usually go as the result of clearer circumstances such as poor results or another opportunity elsewhere. Neither applies in this case.

This portion of yesterday’s press release is interesting. It describes new head coach Alan Koch as follows, “Alan leads by example, is a strong communicator and has established very clear expectations for himself and the players. We feel his disciplined approach will be key for a successful season.” It could be just wording but the words imply that Koch brings a level of discipline and organization that was perhaps not there before. Again, this is speculation.

Alan Koch is certainly an impressive soccer professional and qualified to lead this club forward. Orange and Blue Press recently interviewed Koch about his role with the club. While his role is much larger now as head coach, check out the segment (which includes audio) for more background on the new man in charge. There’s a lot more to be said about Koch but we have the rest of the season to do that.

No coach or player is bigger than the club, even with a club this young. FC Cincinnati will move forward and still has the ability to continue its rapid growth and have a successful 2017 season. The talent and depth on this squad is better than most in USL. As long as Koch can get his players refocused quickly, favorable results should follow.

Well that was all a bit too serious wasn’t it? The one certain cure for all this drama is some football. That football arrives tomorrow at 3:30pm when FC Cincinnati takes on OKC Energy in the team’s first preseason match.

What do you think? Air your grievances in the comments section.

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