Marc de Grandpre: "Bruce was in charge of the entire soccer operations from soup to nuts. It was his responsibility, and obviously we didn't attain our objectives this year."
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This is a transcript of Red Bulls managing director Marc de Grandpre's conference call talking about the departure of Bruce Arena as coach and sporting director of the MLS team.
The conference call took place Monday afternoon.
De Grandpre: Thanks for calling in today. As you know, Bruce Arena resigned today as the sporting director and head coach of Red Bull New York. I met with Bruce this morning to discuss the team, and we decided it was in the best interest of the organization to part ways.
With the amount of resources that we at Red Bull have committed to the franchise and Soccer in North America, our expectations are high, and we want to challenge for a championship every year. I do want to thank Bruce for his efforts.
I do believe that we made progress this season, but it was not where we wanted to be. We have made a promise to our fans to provide the best quality product on the field. Unfortunately we haven't achieved that promise to this point.
This wasn't a decision made based on Saturday's match. Everyone is evaluated throughout the year, and Bruce is no different. We will begin a worldwide search for a new head coach immediately. We have no timetable to when it will be done, but we will work to bring in the right person to lead our talented group of players going forward. Thank you.
Question: Marc, I was wondering, clearly this decision was not made solely today. When did you have an inkling or when did you realize that you would have to make a change?
De Grandpre: I think it's a combination of things that happened throughout the season. As I said, I evaluate everyone every day in the office, on the field, and it was a combination of things that occurred throughout the season.
Question: Could you be more specific, please?
De Grandpre: I'd like to stay away from specifics.
Question: Well, but that's the whole idea of having a conference call, isn't it? Were there just a collection of things that soured the organization on Bruce's approach? Was it him personally? Can you give us some insight?
De Grandpre: No, it was none of that, it was just a combination of things that occurred, and Bruce and I had a conversation this morning, and we agreed that it was best for us to part ways.
Question: I think the fans of this franchise have had nothing but instability since day one, and when you guys came in here you brought in the top level coach in this country, and I think you promised stability, and he gets to inherit someone else's players for a half a year and he gets one draft to make this team better, and now he's gone. So what do you say to the fans? Was that a fair chance to give someone who's probably the best coach in the history of this country?
De Grandpre: I understand that there's been numerous coaches throughout this franchise history. I've only been responsible for one. I do understand that stability is important, but with the amount of resources that we've committed to this franchise, as I said, we expect results quickly, and Bruce was in charge of the entire soccer operations from soup to nuts. It was his responsibility, and obviously we didn't attain our objectives this year.
Question: And just a word maybe on the assistant coaches? What's their status?
De Grandpre: Their status will be determined by the new head coach.
Question: Just wondering, I have a couple questions.The first one is how much input did Salzburg and Red Bull Austria have in this decision?
De Grandpre: None.
Question: None whatsoever?
De Grandpre: None whatsoever.
Question: In terms of getting you said a worldwide coach search, the history of this league, particularly in modern-day history, says that bringing in foreign coaches is not necessarily the best way to go, just because they don't understand the mentality of American players. Why would you consider going for a foreign coach?
De Grandpre: We will consider the best coach for the job, someone who's going to get our players to do what they ultimately don't want to do so they can achieve their goal of winning championships. That's the end of the line. If it's someone from Europe or someone from South America or someone from North America, we're going to find the right coach that's going to motivate our players, develop our players, and make them capable of winning every game week in, week out.
Question: You mentioned that Salzburg did not have any impact on this decision. I'm curious how much you discussed this, or if you discussed it at all, with the players. Did they have any impact? In canvassing players, did you talk to Juan (Pablo Angel), did you talk to Claudio (Reyna)? What did they have to say in terms of this?
De Grandpre: There was no conversation with players. This was my decision alone, and that was it. I would never have talked to players about this.
Question: So when you say that, it didn't even necessarily have to be a formal thing in terms of you saying this is something I'm considering doing, I'm going to fire this man, what do you think? I mean, in general did players' discussions with you over the course of the season contribute to this even on a subconscious or on a minor level?
De Grandpre: Not at all.
Question: My question basically is how much of this decision was yours and how much was -- was it Bruce's decision to leave?
De Grandpre: It was a mutual agreement between us. I talked about the vision for this club and where I wanted it to be and what the expectations were, and we agreed mutually that this was the right decision for the club and for Bruce Arena.
Question: Can you kind of give kind of a window into that conversation?
De Grandpre: No, that's a conversation that Bruce and I agreed would stay between Bruce and I.
Question: Good afternoon from Los Angeles, Marc. My question is two-fold. First of all, have you been in contact with or do you have a contract with or are you contemplating talking to Fabio Capello at all?
De Grandpre: We're just in the process of putting a list together. It's a worldwide search, as I said. I won't give specifics right now.
Question: Is Capello on that list?
De Grandpre: Not yet.
Question: My follow-up question is how much of Bruce's dismissal, which is what I'm taking it as, was down to his inability to deal with subordinates, both on the coaching staff and on the administrative staff?
De Grandpre:I think it was all related to performance.
Question: It was all on-field then, not off-field?
De Grandpre: Mm-hmm.
Question: You said that the decision was made strictly on the basis of the team's performance. What would it have taken for this team to perform this season for you to think that you had made sufficient progress to keep Bruce Arena as coach?
De Grandpre: We would have won the last MLS Cup. That was the expectation set forth.
Question: And that's the only thing that would have saved Bruce's job is to win the title in his first season?
De Grandpre: That was the expectation we set forth for the organization. We fell short.
Question: And you don't think anything short of that, say reaching the Final, would have been good enough?
De Grandpre: Not with the resources that have been allocated.
Question: Is there any direct relationship to the fact that you didn't score a goal in the playoffs as well as not advancing? Was that a disappointment with this team's performance?
De Grandpre: No.
Question: Good afternoon. Just two things. First one is a straight yes or no answer. Have you signed a confidentiality agreement with Bruce Arena?
De Grandpre: Yes.
Question: Second question, I'm having trouble with your answer that you didn't discuss this with anybody. Are we to believe that we have a millionaire owner in Austria and he doesn't know what you're up to over here?
De Grandpre: He is supportive of my decision. I discussed it with the owner, but he is supportive of the decision.
Question: So you have discussed it with him?
Question: Two things: One, you said that there's no timetable yet, but I'd imagine with the draft in the not-so-distant future and preparing for preseason that that decision has got to be made at some point soon.
De Grandpre: I mean, as soon as we find the right candidate, we'll pull the trigger.
Question: And then the other question was if the MLS Cup was the goal set forth for this team, would that ultimately be the same goal set forth for the next coach, and if they fail would they then be let go, as well?
De Grandpre: As I said, it's a combination of things, but ultimately winning the MLS Cup is the goal. It's the only acceptable game we want to play.
Question: Just as a follow-up, I kind of have a problem considering that the league has a salary cap that you expect to win every game, every day of the week or that you play. You can't just go out and buy players like you can in Europe, and to bring a European mentality into this league where you're going to have a merry-go-round of coaches every year who don't win the championship, that doesn't seem the right way to be building a franchise, and yet that seems to be the way you're going. Is that accurate?
De Grandpre: The expectation is to win every time you play a game. I don't think you could talk to any professional athlete or coach or owner that they play games just to play games. Our expectations are to win every game, and that's something we will hold ourselves accountable to every year.
Question: And yet when you have to build through the draft and you only have a couple of thoughts for designated players who maybe can't make those jumps every year, is that taken into consideration?
De Grandpre: Absolutely. As I said, it was a combination of things, but ultimately our goal is to win the MLS Cup.
Question: I've got a question here for you. Earlier this year I did an email interview with Dietrich Mateschitz, and I'm just going to read you what he had written in response to the goals of the team. He said, "Winning the championship and reaching the final cannot be our goal just yet. On the other hand, just doing well enough cannot be enough, either. If everyone puts their utmost effort and we reach the semifinals, we would consider that a success." Does that mean that the philosophy has changed, that the semifinals would not have been good enough?
De Grandpre: It's a balance between the ultimate objectives and performing every day at our utmost. And the semifinals might have been good enough, might not have been good enough. But this year we didn't reach our ultimate objectives.
Question: Do you have any plans to stick with the current setup, sporting director and coach? Will the coach hold both positions or will it be split? And to play off that, was there ever a discussion of Bruce remaining simply as the sporting director and hiring another coach?
De Grandpre: We will split the positions. We'll have a sporting director and a head coach, and that was never a conversation with Bruce, for him to hold the sporting director position and hiring a new coach.
Question: Also, to follow that up, will Bruce leaving the organization have any impact on the stadium and the training facility?
De Grandpre: Bruce had no impact whatsoever on the development of the training facility or the stadium. So no, everything is moving according to plan, and you'll hear about both projects shortly.
Question: At what point do you become accountable for the team's failure to meet its goals?
De Grandpre: I am absolutely accountable for the ultimate objective, and that's why I made this decision. Obviously I'm accountable for us to win championships. As I said, Bruce was accountable for everything that has to do on the sporting side. We hold him to a high standard, we discussed what we expected moving forward, and we decided to part ways.
Question: On the non-sporting side, though, the team is not growing any fans at all at Giants Stadium, it's struggling on the stadium front. It seems to be more than just a coaching problem.
De Grandpre: You know, that's your view on things. I respect it. On the business side, we're doing extremely well.
Question:You're telling us that you have the vision essentially here as to what the club should be going forward. Can you tell us a little bit what that vision is, how you would like to play tactically?
De Grandpre: I'm not going to discuss how we should play tactically. That's not my job. I'm in charge of setting the vision and the direction for this club, and this club needs to be a club that competes year in and year out for a championship. It's a simple vision, but that's what we set forth.
Question: Now you're saying you want to have a separate sporting director. That's something obviously you've learned in the course of this year that it didn't work with Bruce holding both jobs, and they're two big jobs. How will you see that relationship breaking down? Will the sporting director have the last say on all player decisions, or are you going to allow your new manager to have that choice?
De Grandpre: I think it's going to be a mutual agreement and respect between the two individuals, to make sure we put out the best product out there.
Question: You also admitted this morning that you have talked to your ultimate management in Austria. Did you guys discuss what your vision is going forward for the future and how you would like to play football?
De Grandpre: No. Again, that's going to be set forth by our new coach and the sporting director.
Question: Two-fold. You said Bruce had no impact obviously on the stadium. Would his leaving have any impact on -- I mean, there's questions, I guess, over Claudio. Would his leaving have any impact on whether Claudio might come back to the team? And I guess the second part, it's a little unrelated, but you said you would split the two posts. If you had a manager that you really liked and that you really wanted but he demanded also to hold the post of sporting director, would you acquiesce and give that to him?
De Grandpre: Your first question regarding Claudio, again, that will be evaluated by the new manager. But I doubt this will have an impact on Claudio's role with this team moving forward. And your second question, could you repeat, please?
Question: You said you wanted to split the post, split the manager and the sporting director. I was curious, if you had a coach that you really wanted, whomever that is, and you feel he's the right guy to lead you on the field, but he demands to hold both posts similar to the way the guy he's replacing did, would you acquiesce and give that to him?
De Grandpre: We will split it. It will not be the same situation as we had this year.
Question: Who will be among the group, or is it just you, that's going to determine who is ultimately hired?
De Grandpre: It's going to be me.
Question: And as far as the meeting this morning, you mentioned you and Bruce came to a mutual agreement. Is it fair to say you had made up your mind going into that meeting, and the meeting today was just about a settlement?
De Grandpre: No, I was open-minded. I had some clear points I wanted to get across, and we communicated. It was very applicable and respectable and a respectful conversation.
Question: So you're saying there could have been a scenario where he could have kept the job?
De Grandpre: If we agreed to our common vision, potentially.
Question: So he didn't agree with your suggestions as far as the vision?
De GrandpreWe agreed to mutually part ways because obviously there were differences.
Question: You guys spent a lot of money on Bruce when you hired him, and he did come to you in some people's eyes as the most successful coach in U.S. soccer history. If he wasn't able to pull it off, does that basically erase the possibility of hiring another American coach who would in a lot of people's eyes not have the same credentials as Bruce Arena?
De Grandpre: No, I think everything is open. We're not going to limit ourselves to someone outside the U.S. because Bruce was American-based. We're going to open it up to anyone. Whoever becomes the right candidate, they'll rise to the top and we'll hire them.
Question: You've got the expansion draft coming up, I believe, on November 21. Is it safe to assume that you'll have a coach in place by then? And if not, who will handle the expansion draft?
De Grandpre: Jeff (Agoos, the technical director) will handle the expansion draft if we don't have a coach in place at that time.
Question: Could you please explain to us what the philosophy is for those of us who maybe don't have a full grasp of it? And obviously it goes beyond results, exactly what it is. And why does the team have such a poor footprint in the New York market, where you barely get a blip in any media, to be honest?
De Grandpre: I don't think this has anything to do with the nature of this call.
Question: Well, your philosophy and vision of the team does because obviously it didn't match with Bruce, and it's one of the reasons that he was dismissed, so I think it does have something to do with the call.
De Grandpre: As I said earlier, our vision is to be competing for an MLS Cup championship year in and year out and to become a significant preeminent sports franchise in the North American market. It's going to take some time, but we expect to win quickly.
Question: When you look at the Chicago Fire and the success that they've had under a coach so quickly, does that weigh at all on your decision? Just seeing that happen, does that make you believe that a new coach can turn things around pretty quickly?
De Grandpre: I think it just goes to show that with the right chemistry and teacher on the bench, you can change things around fairly quickly.
Question: You mentioned that you want to split the responsibilities now. Is that something that Bruce Arena was not willing to accept and one of the reasons for this decision?
De Grandpre: No, it wasn't something we discussed, as I said, with Bruce.
Question: But you had made the decision already to have a sporting director. Did you not discuss that with Bruce?
De Grandpre: We discussed it, but it wasn't something that I offered up to him.
Question: So that wasn't part of this decision to separate and go your separate ways?
De Grandpre: No.
Question: How much of the decision to let Bruce go was based on his performance as the sporting director, not so much as the head coach, specifically his decision to bring in Reyna, which obviously didn't work out the way the team planned and some questionable trades throughout the season?
De Grandpre: It was a mix of both, I think, and obviously I weighed his opinion as a sporting director and head coach on both.
Question: Can you talk about how the role of the new sporting director and the role of Jeff Agoos, how are they different?
De Grandpre: Jeff's role is a title that will disappear and it will be sporting director, and Jeff will be a candidate for that role.
Question: But for now he's in the position until you hire . . .
De Grandpre: Yes.
Question: So his job is up in the air, also?
De Grandpre: He's a candidate for the sporting director position.