Njikamp and Stam's Seats are Unseasonably Warm
I am a human. I am prone to fits of emotional outrage. And as a Cincinnati soccer fan, much like yourself I assume, FC Cincinnati can bring out the worst in my nature.
Look, who amongst us hasn’t sent a tweet in haste? And then also made the exact same comment on a podcast a full 24 hours later? I’m not perfect.
But I’m also not one to take back a take.
Losing 5-0 to NYCFC after a pathetic 65 minute finish against Nashville tells me this team hasn’t progressed. I’m not expecting miracles in two matches, but right now FCC is losing the 2021 season 7-2 and doesn’t look like they’re going to turn it around.
Maybe I don't really want to have Njikamp and Stam fired now. Maybe I do. Regardless, they need to be operating in a reality where that's the most likely way June is going to go. If their seat isn't hot, it needs to be.
I’m a fan. I want this team to do well. 5-0 is not doing well. Something needs to change before it’s too late to change it for this season.
I’m sure good teams lose 5-0 sometimes. But I’m not sure FCC is a good team. What in the last two years has made you want to give this team the benefit of the doubt in terms of “they might be good”? What breakthrough are you expecting from this team without any changes to the people who organize the team? There are only three new starters on the roster. This wasn’t a remake but a slow evolution from a wooden spoon “winning” side last year.
To paraphrase a quote that is often mis-attributed to Napoleon but was more likely said by Cardinal Richelieu, "I'd rather a lucky general than a skillful one". Stam and his teams sure seem unliky don't they? How unlucky can one manager, one team, be before you start to ask questions about the bigger picture.
And 2019 is no longer an excuse. Gerard Njikamp has been the General Manager since May of 2019. There isn’t a single player on the roster with a contract he didn’t sign. This is his team. These are his backups. There is no 2019 albatross around his neck anymore. He’s on his second manager in that time as well.
For a team that has spent lots of money on players, there are now 5 players who either were DPs or are DPs in the first choice start XI, there is a distinct lack of quality. The team does not look good on the field. whether it’s recruiting, scouting, or coaching, this team fails the eye-test. If I were an assistant coach or someone in the scouting department, I’d be looking to get out in order keep my name clean for future hires. Then again and this is MLS so whoever takes credit on moving Kubo to defensive midfield is probably next inline to coach the USMNT U-17 team.
Not that many FCC players go on to have flourishing careers after leaving the Queen City, which is itself an indictment on the recruiting efforts, but it is infuriating to see Andrew Gutman score a goal. A defender that was considered good defensively but terrible going forward would now be the leading goal scorer on this team. He may play terrible for the rest of the season and never score again in his career but it really helped make a point this weekend.
Think about your job for a moment, think about how you try to do a good enough job, maybe even take some pride in your career and hope to get a promotion. Or maybe you hate your job, but you still do enough to avoid being fired. Now let’s imagine you are, by far, the worst employee. Your boss tells you as much in monthly meetings in front of the entire company. Sure you have good excuses for why you did terrible this month or that month, but this has been going on for two years now. Two years you are, objectively, the worst employee. Would you expect to keep your job? If you were this employee's boss, how long would you keep them on? How long is too long to be the worst?
If you were Njikamp, how on earth do you explain to Carl and Meg you’re the one who should be spending ~$10,000,000 to buy Locadia’s replacement? How can Stam give a team talk with a straight face explaining “this is how we’re going to win”? How many players would believe him? How can Jeff explain to Carl and Meg he’s the man to hire Njikamp’s replacement?
For the love of all that is sacred I would love to have this whole, rant let’s call it, be thrown back in my face later this season. I would. But would you bet money on it? Would you take a confident position now that FCC makes the playoffs this year? How can you after watching the team this weekend? And the weekend before. And the year before. And the year before that.
The only argument in favor of keeping Njikamp and Stam at this point are variations on the Sunk Cost Fallacy. I don’t need this team to gel and build cohesion. I want to see players playing as if their careers depend on it because, I dunno, Dom Kinnear is taking over the team and has no loyalty to any of these players and will bench them if they look like they can’t get a point on the road against a mediocre NYCFC team.
So I'll stake my claim now, Njikamp and Stam need to be shown the door and MLS experienced managers, general or otherwise, need to be brought in to salvage this franchise. Jump on the bandwagon as the season goes on or mock me endlessly when this team makes the playoffs. Either way I win.