Jason Kreis, the manager of New York City FC made the following comment to the press shortly after the team’s loss to the Columbus Crew on Saturday.
The players need to show they want to be here and they want to be a part of this. I know the coaching staff does. I know the coaching staff cares an awful lot about this club and the job we’re attempting to do. I’m not so sure that all the players do.
The Man in Seat 9 is saddened by the above statement as it feels like a calculated comment to place the blame of the team's performance squarely on the players' shoulders rather than on both the players and the coaches. Yes the team is showing a lack of heart, but there are also a lot of errors and sloppiness that could be fixed by some focused coaching. The comment sounds of someone trying to save their job. It's a weak move. A ____ move. There are other adjectives that this writer could use, but journalistic decorum dictates to not do so. And it shows the gulf of perception that is beginning to form between the coaching staff and the players.
Frank Lampard was quick to provide the view from the players side acknowledging Kreis' building frustration but rebutting what was said.
"I respect the manager for saying that. Managers and players should be emotional after defeats at times," Lampard said. From where I've been, there's a desire to be here. Every squad's the same that I've ever been. Some players that are not playing might find it difficult because players want to play. As an all around spirit in the camp I don't see a problem at all. You'll have to ask every individual, but I don't feel that. All I feel is that something is off on the pitch, that we are not getting the results, not getting the consistency. For me, it's not for trying."
Patrick Mullens and Andrea Pirlo also responded to the salvo.
I look around, and I see guys that want to be here. I think everyone's heart is in the right place, and I think that's just a coach that just wants more out of his players. I respect him obviously for saying that and I'm not going to back down from it, Mullens said afterwards.
I would be very unhappy if that were true, because if the people that are actually playing are not having fun, and don't want to be there, I'm sure there are reserves that really would love to play instead, Pirlo said.
I think it's important when you play to have fun, to really want to be there so you can do your best and give your maximum to the team and the game.
The Man in Seat 9 realizes that frustration is high in both camps, but in the end, given the players a manager is given, Jason Kreis is the “one throat to choke.” Period. End of story. To make the above statement when there are so many glaring coaching issues is not only irresponsible, but undisciplined and unprofessional.
Yes the players need to step up, but so too does the coaching staff. To make the statement Kreis did as a Hail Mary to spark the team to greatness and to motivate them to push for the outside chance of making the playoffs, was, well it was not a Win One for the Gipper speech. Maybe he's nervous about his position. And this writer hasn’t thought this until now, but maybe he should be.
Whatever the reason for his comments, this much is clear. The team lacks heart. And heart comes from the coaches and managers as well, not just from the players. And there is a difference in perception of where the problem lies. And that comes down to communication and leadership. Shifting blame, this late in the season, is unseemly. If Kreis needs to motivate his players, he should do so in the locker room and the training pitch and not in the press.
Maybe the next time, inestead of widening a divide and pushing blame, Kreis should use the edited version of his original comment below:
“The players, manager, and coaching staff, need to show that we want to be here and we want to be a part of this. I know the fans do. I know the fans care an awful lot about this club and the job we’re attempting to do. I’m not so sure that we do.”