For many in the media, getting a 15 minute 1-on-1 interview with new FC Cincinnati General Manager was a simple process: show up to the event stick around afterwards, wait for your assigned time, and get the interview. For The Post, that process was not so simple. And if you buy me a beer at Northern Row before a match, I'll be happy to tell you why my conversation with Chris Albright after yesterday's "press event" was done over the phone and not out on the balcony of the Pitch View club.

Albright was very candid in this interview and speaks with quite a bit of confidence. After my conversation with him, and seeing how he interacted with the media, I feel very comfortable with him in charge of FC Cincinnati. With his big smile and style of a former soccer player, I can see this city falling in love all over again with The FC. Here is my conversation with Chris Albright.

Kevin Wallace: Chris. I appreciate you. Squeezing me in here on a busy Wednesday.

Chris Albright: All good. It's all part of it.

KW:

For sure, for sure. I'm just going to dive in. I don't want to waste your time with this. I've got to start off with this one. Were you the one that sold all of the Union's draft picks to Jeff Berding, in 2019?

CA:

Well, the organization did, I will start there and leave it there.

KW:

[Laughs] I mean, if it was you, I'll feel good about you coming into this job.

CA:

Yep, it was, it was me so you can feel good about that.

KW:

There we go. I appreciate that. I guess on a similar note, we've heard from different reporters that FC Cincinnati is something of a laughingstock behind closed doors. But what's been your view of FC Cincinnati from afar or maybe in some of the dealings you've had?

CA:
I think again from afar everybody in our industry sees it as a club with great potential. More potential than 90% of the league frankly given infrastructure, the money, the ownership laid out to be successful. You know, they they've really big ambitions. They rushed themselves in MLS admittedly. So I think they just found it a little tougher than maybe everyone thought. But at the same time, consensus around the league was 'wow what an opportunity, what a job' because it just takes somebody with some experience and know-how to come in and steady it and lean the right direction and hopefully that's something I can do.

KW:
That is all very, very good to hear as a fan of the team. So, has Jeff Berding given you any assurances that he will stay out of the soccer side of operations? I know that's been  a hot topic recently.

CA:
I mean, look, I'm brought in to run the entire soccer operations department, I wanted to make that clear in my press conference today. I said, as much, I've been assured as much. Jeff's job is, as he spoke to me is to be a be a conduit between ownership and help facilitate resources that I feel like we need to be successful. And so, no, Jeff's been tremendous throughout the process and communicating just that, that this a blank canvas for me to decide which direction we go. As far as head coach and players and he's here to support me.

KW:
That's good to hear. I guess a similar enough question. FC Cincinnati has won two Wooden Spoons in a row and well on their way to a third one, how much pressure is there to win immediately on you from ownership or even from yourself?

CA:
Well, I always put pressure on myself to win. I've always been around winners and I've won. But at the same time, everybody understand that there's a reality to turning what's been habitual losing around. There's some processes you need to put in place in identifying players and there's a cultural piece that I can hopefully add pretty quickly on the soccer side to make everybody feel a little bit more part of it than they had before. And I'm confident he'll be able to improve on this year.

KW:
How are you going to judge success in your first year? I know your predecessor was happy to make pronouncements in windows and four-year plans. I'm not expecting anything like that. But how will you judge success in the first year?

CA:
I think again improving upon win total is it is a clear one. Being able to, as a fan and as someone in the organization to, clearly identify what we're trying to do on the field. Establishing some sort of identity and establishing a style of play that's more clear than has existed. I think if we focus on those kind of metrics for success, I think the results are going to take care of themselves. There's some [salary] cap stuff that needs to be cleaned up, being able to make the right decisions around some players to set ourselves up to be able really build as we go through next year, while improving on results this year.

KW:
So is your plan to implement a playing style from top to bottom with the club starting with the first team and eventually drilling a U-8 team in that same style, is that the vision?

CA:
That is the vision. That's something that we were able to do in Philadelphia. Obviously, the academy here is much younger. It starts with the general manager and head coach identifying that style of play and committing to that. Then being able to drill down that methodology and system throughout the academy so that there's a clear identity throughout. And hopefully when we start to see more academy talent to the first-team, what we found in Philadelphia is, they're oftentimes more well-versed in the system than some players you sign from overseas that are maybe better professionals. So that's more of a long-term objective, given the academy piece of it, but certainly establishing that system in the first team is, is vital.

KW:
Do you have a sense of what that style would be? Is this going to be a high pressing team a counter-attacking team or are you going to assess the first team roster before you start tinkering with that?

CA:
Yeah. I certainly have ideas of how the game should be played. What the modern game looks like. I think that together with the head coach sitting down and understanding. And part of the criteria around the head coach will be at least willingness to understand how I see the game. And I imagine that the candidate will be right in line with how I see the game. And it's sitting down and really building that. Much of that is a coach's responsibility. And then to be able to systematically push that down through [the] MLS2 team and in the academy. That's for myself and coaching staff to oversee.

KW:
I was doing some research and on a 2005 interview with the GoNintendo podcast, you suggested putting electric walls around the field to keep unruly fans out. Have you brought this idea up to Jeff Berding?

CA:
[Laughing] I have not. I really said that to someone? That's awesome.

KW:
It's one of the most awkward interviews I've ever heard. They were interviewing about some soccer video game...

CA:
Well, I was way way ahead of my years and in technology, that's funny. I'm sorry you reminded me of that interview.

KW:
[Laughing] You're welcome, you're welcome. Do you see any holes in the current front office structure in terms of roles titles and has ownership committed to giving you the budget to flesh out your staff?

CA:
Yes. They have. Again, this is an evaluation. I've said everyone is being evaluated, players, staff, and the first time GM is also being evaluated. And I want to get in here and see over the next six to eight weeks, how people function in their roles, what their responsibilities are, how they work together, and how that compares to what we built Philadelphia. And I think that I'll be able to answer your question as far as roles and structure am probably in in the next month or two once I'm able to be a fly on the wall here for the next couple of months.

KW:
For sure. All right, if I can get one more in before you leave; more about your job in Philly. A lot has been discussed about the merits of a domestic GM versus a European or maybe somebody who's not from MLS coming into being a general manager. Where do you think Ernst Tanner has succeeded where others coming in from outside of MLS have failed?

CA:
Well I think, Ernst has a track record in developing players and selling players on. He has track record in in the methodology of RedBull and drilling down systems throughout clubs. I think that was a really good fit with what the Philadelphia Union was looking to do. And I think Ernst would tell you himself and mentioned it. Being a general manager, the best ones put people in place that are experts in their field and support them and allow them to work. And I think I was a good compliment for Ernst in my expertise with a cap and recruiting, and the league. And so I think in that way, you know much like Ernie frankly, we were a good team. And in speaking of structure that's what I'll look to build around myself and around the head coach; people that supplement each other and are good at their jobs and people in management positions get out of their way and let them do what they're good at.

KW:
What a refreshing answer. Thank you.

CA:
Yep, no worries, man. Thank you.