New England Soccer Today

On Edge at Gillette

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Whenever a popular coach departs, the accompanying emotions felt by his former charges are usually sadness, disappointment, and empathy. And that has certainly been the case with the Revolution in the immediate aftermath of Steve Nicol’s exit earlier this week.

But, with a new coaching regime all but certain to bring about more change, another emotion is beginning to creep into minds of the very same players the former gaffer personally selected over the years: anxiety.

It’s not that they aren’t looking forward to the challenge of playing for a new coach. Certainly not. But, the possibility that the aforementioned change could dislodge some of Nicol’s hand-picked players from the roster is one that has understandably crept into the team’s collective psyche.

“I think a lot of guys are concerned about it,” said fourth-year midfielder Chris Tierney. “When the new coach comes in, he’ll have his own style and whether you’ll fit into it is always a question.”

And it’s a question that, in all likelihood, will not be answered in the coming week or so. The organization’s search for Nicol’s successor is expected to extend through postseason training, with the hope that one will be hired before the November 23rd expansion draft.

While that search continues, there’s a palpable sense among some of the players, all of whom remain in Foxboro under the guidance of assistant coach Steve Myles, that they’re effectively in limbo until the new head coach is named.

“It’s a little uncomfortable for the players right now because we don’t really have (a head coach) evaluating us,” said fourth-year midfielder Pat Phelan. “We don’t know if we’re going to be protected (in the expansion and re-entry drafts) or if our contracts are going to be picked up or where we’re going to be next year.”

Those concerns are especially pertinent for seasoned veterans like Phelan, Tierney, and others who, over the years, appeared to have locked down their roster spots under Nicol. But with a new coach sure to institute new ideas and methods in the player evaluation process, the prospect of seasoned pros having to prove themselves all over again is a daunting reality.

“I think all of our necks are on the chopping block as of right now,” said Phelan. “Whoever comes in, we have to start from square one and prove that we’re worthy of being on this team.”

Nevertheless, Phelan refuses to focus solely on the drawbacks. Although the comfort level that comes with playing for a well-liked and respected coach is no longer present, the scruffy center half is optimistic that a new coach may be just what the team needs to move forward.

“I see it as a good opportunity,” said Phelan. “I think things needed to change. I don’t necessarily agree with the decision (surrounding Nicol’s exit), but a fresh start can’t hurt.”

A fresh start certainly can’t hurt at all, especially for a team that only won five of its 34 contests in 2011. And while job security may be in the back of players’ minds once Nicol’s successor is named, Tierney believes that a new approach will not only invigorate the squad, but also erase any lingering sense of self-doubt.

“Everyone’s going to look to impress when the new manager is named,” said Tierney. “Hopefully, it’ll give us a chance to re-set ourselves as pros and focus on the job at hand and going back to not having to prove ourselves again.”

Of course, that’ll be much easier to do once a coach is named. But, for now, all the players can do is keep working toward the task at hand– even if the nerves remain somewhat frayed.

“I think everyone might be a little nervous about it,” said Tierney. “We just want to get it figured out sooner than later who (the next head coach) is going to be so that we know what we need to do to stay on the team.”


  1. Alain Chinca

    October 28, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Well, if you are a decent player who would start on other MLS teams, no need to sweat it out. However, if you are a Revs player (Boggs, Schilaski, PHelan, McCarthy, Mansally, Dhube, Niassy) who should have NEVER signed a pro contract, you should be sweating.

    I do not ask for great player. I just don’t want on the team starters who would be on the bench in every other team on the MLS.

    Go Revs.

  2. Walter Silva

    November 2, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Steve Ralston the new Revolution coach, just wait until the play offs are over for the H D,

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