Tuesday, September 10, 2019

It's Gregg Berhalter's Narrative

“I see where the narrative is going now, it’s ‘Why are we playing the way we’re playing?’” Berhalter said. “The second is, ‘We don’t have the players to do it.’ That’s what all of you guys are thinking. And to me, it’s about developing players. We’re making progress. That’s not going to be your narrative right now, and I understand that. But internally, we believe we’re making progress.”

I'm taking a look at Gregg Berhalter's postgame comments after last Friday's 0-3 lost to Mexico. Just purely looking at the comments, and not looking at his demeanor from the videos or anything like that - he appears frustrated. It's clear he tried to head off criticism by putting forward what he thought the press would say after the loss, which, for me is a bit narcissistic. Deflecting criticism before it even got to him is "smartest guy in the room" stuff, not a great look.

Several media outlets, including heavy hitters (relatively in the soccer universe) like Yahoo Sports and The Athletic, have done exactly what Berhalter thought they would do in regards to the narrative after the game. Berhalter also claimed that he believed internally they were making progress and without a doubt, I do believe after following him here in Columbus for a number of years that he believes that. He did that exact same thing with the Crew when he stuck with it through losses and really poor results one of them led to the second-worst season in crew history back in 2016.

But my criticism of the way Berhalter is approaching this is simple and stems from the fact that he believes that he is developing these players. Whether that means he's developing them as overall players or developing them to fit into his specific system. I don't believe that you can run much of a rigid system at the National Team level because it is a revolving door of guys that are being called in and time with them is limited - it's just not possible.

Another thing to look at is trying to have players learn system like he's coaching some sort of Club is that players don't have the time to learn it. Both Sebastian Lletget and Christian Pulisic made mention of this after the game.

National team players, when they're called up, are usually on break or it's during the summer or something similar. They are mixing in vacations, recovery, or time off. I don't think a lot of the players are all that interested in really going out there and learning an entirely new system outside of what they're doing with their club - which is usually pretty intensive because these are good players.

No doubt Gregg Berhalter has a little bit of a mess on his hands. I don't think he really has a plan B outside of players just buckling down and learning what he has planned out.

“It’s the hardest thing in the world,” Pulisic said after Friday’s defeat. “You have short periods to train, and it’s hard to teach a real system and be very specific with it.”

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