It looks like that "Go Backe Home" banner that was seen at Red Bull Arena last fall won't be necessary in 2012.
New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe confirmed while speaking with Swedish publication SportExpressen.se that he will not return to the club following the 2012 Major League Soccer season. He stated the following on the subject during that interview: "My contract runs out and I have not heard anything, so I will be moving home in December."
Backe's tenure with the MLS side has been the definition of "up-and-down," a roller coaster ride that has seen groups of fans produce t-shirts and banners in the coach's honor, and also other supporters actively and loudly urge for the team to find a new boss. It was the thought of literally every knowledgeable person I spoke with back at the start of the current campaign that Backe and the Red Bulls would part ways this winter if the team didn't hoist the MLS Cup in 2012.
Winning the first league title in club history may now not be enough for Backe to save his job.
The winds of change are sweeping through Harrison, NJ right as the Red Bulls are preparing for postseason play. RBNY President of Business Operations Chris Heck was shown the door back at the start of August. New York then announced on October 2 that team general manager/sporting director Erik Soler had been demoted, and that Jérôme de Bontin and Gérard Houllier would be taking over Soler's posts. The news of Backe's coming departure from the club hit the US just nine days before the Red Bulls host Sporting KC in a game New York need to win for a variety of reasons.
Backe's 2012 started out with plenty of promise and lots of positive results. Despite being without half of his first-choice lineup throughout the spring months and at the same time having to deal with a designated player who appeared in maybe one to two MLS matches a month (do I really need to point out that I'm talking about Rafa Marquez here?), Backe had the Red Bulls in a position to contend for the Supporters' Shield at the halfway point of the season. He was even a true midseason 2012 MLS Coach of the Year candidate.
Things haven't gone as smoothly for coach or club during the second half of the campaign. The Red Bulls dropped points to teams in the bottom portion of the league table (Toronto and twice against New England), and they were recently downed 2-0 at home by both KC and Chicago Fire. RBNY are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference standings, one point behind rivals DC United, three points ahead of Houston Dynamo and four points ahead of Columbus Crew. A win against KC on October 20 would guarantee New York a playoff spot. The Red Bulls end the season away to Philadelphia Union.
Serious rumors that Backe would not coach the team in 2013 surfaced almost immediately after it was learned that Soler had been replaced by De Bontin and Houllier. Multiple noteworthy potential candidates, such as Gary McAllister and Harry Redknapp, have been linked with New York. Those running the club haven't yet addressed such rumors, probably because New York still have a head coach who will be trying to lead the team to glory despite off-field distractions that would affect any manager/coach in any league.
There's really no way that anybody could adequately summarize the Backe Era at RBNY this October. Backe would probably be one of several Red Bulls legends if the team gets hot and wins the upcoming postseason tournament. His tenure as New York head coach will be seen as a complete failure, however, if the Red Bulls are again bounced from the playoffs before the MLS Cup Final. All we know for sure as of the typing of this sentence is that the circus continues for what could be the most talented team in the history of the franchise.
Same old Metro.