Q&A: Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss
Following Monday's coaching announcement, Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss sat down with TheCrew.com's Cody Sharrett to talk about the short-term changes the club and its fans can expect.
Cody Sharrett: In taking over the managerial role of the club, what on-field changes -- either personnel or tactically -- can fans expect right away?
Brian Bliss: Our personnel, it is what it is. The results we're getting warranted that a few other guys get the opportunity to try to make a mark and try to lift the club up a little bit. That being said: we're limited to what we have here and you don't want to go crazy with massive changes, but I certainly think there are some guys who warrant more opportunities for playing time.
We built this roster to play a certain way. I think myself, I have good perspective of the personnel here and I think a fresh set of ideas with that group, a fresh perspective in the locker room can maybe help turn the tide a little bit.
We've talked about it in the past that maybe we need to play a bit more up-tempo, try to get to the goal a little quicker and probably recovering the ball a little quicker. Those are three areas of priority.
CS: Being eight points out of playoff contention, what are the short-term goals for the club in the final two months of the season as you take over coaching duties?
BB: We need to gain some confidence back. I think you gain confidence back by changing the way you're playing and getting some results. There is no guarantee that playing a certain way is going to get you those results, but I think just feeling better about yourself individually and feeling better about yourself collectively can help in that regard. Everybody does it differently, that doesn't necessarily mean it's better. We need to get the group in-tune with the way I want to do things and go from there. Hopefully there is a change in mentality as well and not a par-for-the-course type of thing. We need to change our mentality and the way we do things a little bit.
CS: In observing the team from your Technical Director role, how do you feel a fresh perspective on the coaching side can impact the team starting with Wednesday's match against the Houston Dynamo?
BB: You're always going to get someone's attention when something like this happens. We know we're not happy with these decisions when you make them, but that's the way it is. It's pro sports.
I think the initial reaction -- you hope -- is a positive one. I'm going to try to make it a positive one. Then you get everyone's attention to refocus on what the goal is. We still think there are some good parts to this team, even with a couple of the injuries that we've had.
We still think there is some depth on the roster, some quality on the roster. Getting a few results down the road in these last few games is achievable. We can get ourselves on the right track.
CS: How has taking over as a Head Coach in the middle of the 2006 season before with Kansas City prepared you for this new challenge with the Crew?
BB: Every situation is different. Both of these were kind of out of the blue and unexpected. You've got to quickly re-tool your planning as to what you had planned as a Technical Director. You've got to re-shape some things there and refocus on some things that you weren't necessarily planning on paying attention to.
One of the positives of this is that I've been the coaching arena for a long time. Maybe not 11 months out of the year, but keeping a hand in the Crew U-19s and U-20s the last five years and working with Tab Ramos and the U.S. Under-20s over the last 15-18 months keeps me current on coaching trends and managing people and designing training sessions.
It's going to take me a couple weeks to find my feet a little bit, but it's certainly not uncharted water. I hope to be able to lay some groundwork for some things next week when we have a full week of training. This week will be difficult because it's two games in four days and you have one of them away. It's not easy to get things turned around that quickly.
CS: How would you describe your managerial style? Are you a players' coach? More of a tactician? A motivator?
BB: To be honest with you, I think I possess characteristics in all three areas. I think I'm honest. I'm hard, but I also believe I'm fair. Dealing with the players, I'm very open to discussion about tactics, about the team's play and about that person's individual play. In the past, I had an open-door policy. Knock on the door, come in and I'll talk to you. I won't always agree with you. You may not always agree with me, but a healthy dialogue is always good. That's the way I've always been. At the end, I'd say I'm demanding but I'm fair.
CS: This is an opportunity to show you can be an MLS Head Coach. Is this something you want moving forward in contrast to being the Technical Director?
BB: I've said it in the past, I want to get back on the field. In the first couple, three years of being Technical Director, I probably didn't because I liked what I was doing. I still like what I'm doing as the Technical Director. I think I have a lot of influence in the direction of the club: player-wise, style of play, personnel and all that, but at some point you do get an itch.
I've said it before – I think I can make the biggest impact by being on the field with some of the skills that I discussed previously. I'm looking forward to it. You never want it to happen this way, but sometimes life takes some funny turns and this is the opportunity.
I'm looking forward to the challenge, and I think I'm up to it.