New York, NY - Lately much has been written about the New York Red Bulls marketing strategy and the attendance at Red Bull Arena.
While it's easy to question the accuracy of the number of fans in attendance or who the Red Bulls organization is trying to target in terms of fanbase, I believe there is an elephant in the room that's not being addressed.
Although the Red Bulls may be considered an energy-drink club to many MLS followers, the one thing that cannot be denied is their financial investment. Along with building possibly the best soccer specific stadium (SSS), the organization has brought in world-class players such as Juan Pablo Angel, Thierry Henry, Joel Lindpere and Rafa Marquez.
In doing so, the expectations were that along with the Red Bulls being a competitive MLS club much like their West Coast counterpart, the Los Angeles Galaxy, the players brought in were to attract fans of diverse cultures.
However, for all their financial investments, the Red Bulls have been consistent in being a mediocre club.
At the end of the day, it's not the marketing, the location of Red Bull Arena, lack of attendance or the players brought in that has failed the Red Bulls organization. It comes down to the front office's decision to keep Hans Backe as New York Red Bulls' manager.
Here's a question for you, how many of you Red Bulls supporters believe that your club will win an MLS Cup under Hans Backe? While it must be noted that Backe was brilliant in reversing the Red Bulls' fortunes in his first year, the team has not lived up to the expectations since.
By no means am I suggesting that he's like Blackburn Rovers' manager Steven Kean. I simply believe that he may have reached his plateau with the Red Bulls. If the club has any intentions of going forward, they may have to bring in an individual who is not only respected but has the credentials to attract both local and worldwide attention.
The Red Bulls need to make an effort to hire Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola. If the Red Bulls were able to sign both Rafa Marquez and Thierry Henry after their time with Barca, I believe they will be able to get a hold of Guardiola.
Realistically, he's not going to manage another club anytime soon. But what if? Much like Phil Jackson, Guardiola is a manager who would be able to manage any club of talented superstars. If anyone dares to not fall in line, he'll have no reservation in offloading him.
If anyone understands the time frame it takes to build a successful club, it's him because was also part of Barcelona's youth system who eventually played under Johan Cruyff and ultimately managed the club.
He is a man who in four years has lead his club to two Champions Leagues, three Ligas, two Clubs World Cups, two European Supercups, one Copa del Rey and three Spanish Supercups. He is a man who understands the importance of player development as he guided many of his his former academy players to the first team.
Guardiola took Johan Cruyff's innovative tiki-taka style of play to a new level as his club produced 2.5 goals per match and won 72 percent of their matches. Having Pep Guardiola as manager of the New York Red Bulls would not only attract fans, it would make the Red Bulls credible.
It would also give the South Ward a leader whom they would believe could lead them to the MLS promise land.
Unlike past players who joined the team passed their prime, Guardiola is a manager who has yet to enter his prime. He's proven that along with relating with his players, he's also a manager that many supporters believe in.
With the opportunity for world class players who fit Guardiola's model to join the club, the academy development would be interesting to follow because Messi, Pique, Iniesta and Busquets proved that an academy with a foundation of players who are cohesive will one day have the opportunity to thrive in the professional ranks.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Managing Barcelona or Real Madrid is probably more demanding and stressful than managing any other club in the world. Coaching in MLS would not be as stressful for Pep, and he'll have the privacy of living in New York that he would never have in Barcelona.
While this would be a nice scenario for the Red Bulls and MLS fans in general, it is unlikely that Pep Guardiola would sign with New York? But what if?
Cesar Diaz is a freelance writer for several online soccer publications. If there’s a soccer topic you believe needs to be written about, please feel free to contact him. Easily approachable, you may contact him at CDiazNYC@gmail.com and @CesarDiazNYC.