Union Fans Should Be Patient With Jim Curtin
37-year old manager Jim Curtin is approaching his first MLS Playoffs as head coach of the Philadelphia Union despite the team not ending the season with a winning record.
Most people would think that making the playoffs for the first time in five years would result in praise from the media and fans. However, that has not been the case this year as many people having been asking, “does Jim Curtin deserve to keep his job as manager?”
To be fair to Jim Curtin, the Union haven’t had a winning season since 2011 (Curtin took over in the middle of 2014) and Curtin has only had two full seasons to turn things around. Therefore, you can’t blame Curtin for the lack of success entirely. However, when you don’t win a game in six fixtures heading into the playoffs, it is a bit of a concern and the blame should fall significantly on the manager.
Even though Jim Curtin is the winningest head coach in Union history, he does not own a win percentage above 40. Granted he is still better than his predecessors Piotr Nowak and John Hackworth, but Curtin still has not been able to get the Union to the elite level in the MLS. To Curtin’s credit, the Union were among the top teams through the first half of the season but then drastically fell off as the season progressed, which is frustrating for Union fans.
It is understandable why Union fans are calling for a new coach. The team was at the top of the Eastern conference a few months ago and now they are sitting in sixth just barely squeaking into the playoffs. In the eyes of Union fans, this is a failure. The team has failed to secure a first round bye and were on the verge of missing out on the playoffs. Along with that, the Union brought in USMNT starter Alejandro Bedoya in an attempt to rejuvenate the team. To the dismay of Union fans, the demise at the end of the season still occurred with Bedoya in the lineup, making the situation even more disappointing.
For the Union to be successful, they simply need to believe in themselves. After a streak of good results, the team has the habit to come out and look uninspired. In crucial games such as last week versus Orlando City, they looked uninspired and flat when it was a win-and-in game. This is something that Curtin and the vets of the Union need to change immediately if they want to be successful going forward. The Union can beat anyone in the league, but it is up to them to go out and do it week in and week out.
As for the status of Jim Curtin’s job, Curtin should be the head coach for at least the next year. Since Curtin has improved the Union in some capacity by making the playoffs (regardless of the losing record), it is only fair to give him another year to improve on what he has done so far. Plus, the Union can go out during the January transfer window to look for another designated player to go alongside Barnetta and Edu, giving Curtin another reliable option on his roster. Taking away a manager who is slowly making progress would disrupt team chemistry along with whatever process Jim Curtin is putting in place.
Give Jim Curtin another year at the helm and bring in another D.P. to help him out. If the Union can maintain the same team and coaching staff, the results will eventually come. Curtin is a competent coach who is only getting wiser with every game. Union fans need to stay patient, not expect a long-run in the playoffs and trust the process.
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