Monday, January 8, 2024

The McAuley era has begun in Indy

I said most of what I wanted to say yesterday about the new coaching hire, even before I knew who the Indy Eleven were pegging to be the new person leading the team. Today, the club announced that Sean McAuley would be taking the reigns on the sideline for the men's first team for the 2024 season. While I hope that I'm wrong, my opinion yesterday wasn't swayed by today's announcement. McAuley has minimal experience as a first-team head coach/manager, with short stints as caretaker/interim manager at Sheffield Wednesday in 2006 and again in 2009, and at Minnesota United for a bit this past season. He was the head coach of Sheffield Wednesday's Academy coach for 6 years, so there's at least that. He was at Sheffield at the same time as inaugural season player Jermaine Johnson, who was with the Sheffield first-team from 2007-2014 before joining Indy midseason.

None of that is enough for me to know how he's going to coach since he's only ever been an assistant at first-team level teams. What's his style, on and off the pitch? 

He has been on staff with Caleb Porter at Portland from 2012 - 2017, then on James O'Connor's staff at Orlando City in 2018 - 2020, before moving to Adrian Heath's staff at Minnesota. So it's not like he hasn't been around a high-level atmosphere, but there are still a lot of unknowns for me. 

After the announcement, the club posted the following about McAuley's mentality.

"I don't buy into the "it's going to take two or three years to turn anything around." As soon as we start the first training session, we'll be working towards winning the championship. It's that simple." - Sean McAuley

I don't think there has been a coach that has come to this club that didn't think the exact same thing. For whatever you thought of them and their style of play, Martin Rennie and Mark Lowry weren't short on confidence on their own ability to coach. Yet, something seems to always happen with this club, and we fall right back to my concerns from yesterday. 

I want to be wrong. I also have concerns. Those don't have to be mutually exclusive thoughts. I'm going to support him as much as possible, but I'm curious to see what happens if things don't start out the way he hopes; from his perspective and from the club's perspective.

Now that he has his own team, let's see what kind of players he and the front office bring in to, hopefully, fill in around the existing 12 players on the roster, so that we can start to see what kind of tactics he is planning to start with this season.

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