Truth be told, I’ve always thought the dynamic between head coach and employer country is much more like a romantic relationship than a traditional professional one. Okay, romantic might be over doing it, but odds are a coach-to-country union at least sort of begins like a torrid affair.
The country covets the coach, the coach promises to be something irresistibly different than the country’s previously failed partners (or something irresistibly similar, some people never learn), and before you know it a hire is imminent and both sides are fawning over each other in public like Veronica Corningstone and Ron Burgundy after a passionate jazz flute solo. After a while though, when the “new regime” honeymoon glow has had a chance to dissipate and actual success is the only thing that can confirm the strength of the partnership, all that initial optimism and “new love” intrigue seems to fade out of sight quicker than poor Baxter over the side of a San Diego highway bridge. (And not even William Hill Sports football premier league can set the odds on where Baxter/that fleeting optimism will eventually land, and if it can ever be regained)
It’s at that precise moment when the wondering begins… Is this really an ideal match for the long term? Is this even a good match for the long term? Does Anchorman really need to be referenced so often in this article?
All very important questions, and questions that come about because the joining of national team manager and corresponding nation over the long term (much like a relationship) ultimately evolves into a marriage of sorts. It feels like a marriage not only because of the huge levels of investment and trust put forth by all parties, but also because of the sheer lack of realism and practicality exercised by all parties while agreeing to make those investments.
As nations of fans backing our national team-management groups, we unrealistically believe (or at the very least hope) that every single new coach is “the one.” We do so because every single new coach kind of has to be the one. If he’s not, then you’ve wasted 4 years (the span between most major tournaments) on a dead end, and you have to wait what seems like an eternity to truly take your next shot at “true love.” The stakes are incredibly high. [Continue reading]