October 13, 2012
MY TWO CENTS
The Red Bulls’ Analyst examines why the Red Bulls struggle to qualify for and compete in the playoffs
Chris Brandon Whitaker writes monthly for The Red Bulls’ Analyst: Analysis for a Team, Therapy for Fans
By Chris Brandon Whitaker
Special to BigAppleSoccer.com
For this month’s session, the Red Bulls’ Analyst will address the issue of repetition compulsion with regard to the team’s post-season qualifying record.
As they pause for the fall FIFA international break, the Red Bulls find themselves in the familiar bind of needing to qualify for the playoffs with only two games lefty. Once contenders for first place in the Eastern Conference, they have tumbled to wildcard game hopefuls. For fans who have endured a season of close calls, many are concerned about another cliffhanger to qualify for the post-season.
No matter how well or poorly the Red Bulls play throughout the year, they usually end most seasons by squeaking into the playoffs and then getting eliminated in the quarterfinals. Such was the case in 2011 and 2010, and while 2009 missed the playoffs, and 2008 saw a fluky run to the finals, 2007 through 2003 all ended the same way with losses in quarterfinals. How can a team be so consistently . . . mediocre?
Mental health issue: repetition compulsion
A team that consistently delivers the same disappointing year-end result could be suffering from repetition compulsion. This is a psychological phenomenon in which someone repeats a traumatic event and its circumstances over and over. This typically involves putting oneself in situations where the event is likely to happen again and then reenacting it compulsively (Sound familiar?).
Therapeutic interventions: chop and change
While not a recommended therapy, the Red Bull overlords have tried to break this pattern of futility in the playoffs by firing the front office and turning over the team roster season after season after season. (Déjà vu again?) However, their attempts to shake up the organization with radical change have only produced the same middling results.
Prognosis: more of the same.
A repeat inmate at an asylum once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results (wver heard that before?).
From the look of things, Red Bull Global will repeat its chop and change pattern by firing general manager Erik Soler and perhaps not renewing coach Hans Backe’s contract for 2013. If so, the roster will likely undergo an overhaul with the new management, which will make it more difficult for the team to qualify for next season’s playoffs yet again.
Treatment: how to change a bad habit
Common sense tells us that the best way to change a bad habit is to try something else. But what if the bad habit is to constantly try something else (Does this ring a bell?)?
Stop shaking up the roster – with an exception for a certain designated player who wants a loan to the Liga MX. This is the deepest team the Red Bulls have ever fielded. Let the players build chemistry for another year.
Stop tinkering with the lineup. With two more games until the playoffs, it’s time to quit experimenting. Put the best players in their best positions. Hint: that certain DP is not our best player and his best position is on the bench.
For a team famous for its comebacks from behind this season, the coaching staff needs to tap into this mentality to fight back. Goonies aren’t the only ones who never say die. Inspire the players to fight for each other, their fans, and their reputations.
Stop coming out flat. There is no excuse for starting every game as though the team just rolled out of bed. Crack smelling salts under each player’s nose. They just might just start winning, if they can start competing from the very start (Did he just repeat himself … again?).
(For a city with more psychotherapists than bartenders and a team with more issues than a magazine stand, the Red Bulls’ Analyst offers therapeutic counsel rather than a cure).
"The opinions reflected in the My Two Cents columns do not express the views of the editors or management of BigAppleSoccer. com"
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