floro-benito-2005

Well, he’s been everywhere. Everywhere.

A start as a semipro coach at fourth division side Silla in 1979-80, then off to Torrente in the 5th division, then CD Denia in the 4th division, up to CF Gandia in the 3rd division (runners up to the Francoist-sounding Generalitat Cup), along to UD Alzira (same division), along to Onteniente (where the club accomplished niente, HA HA!).

Then fully pro in 1987-88 with Olimpic de Xativa in the segunda (runners up); Albacete the next year where he would stay until 1996, a club with which he won promotion, took the team up to 7th, then to the Spanish Cup semi; Real Freakin’ Madrid in 1992-93 where he took the club to second place and won the Spanish Cup and the Spanish Supercup,; Sporting Gijon after that for a single season,; Vissel Kobe in Japan for a single season; CF Monterrey in Mexico for two seasons (champions); Villarreal for two seasons in which they won an Intertoto UEFA Cup; Mallorca after that for a year, Real Madrid sporting director in 2006 (until Florentino Perez was ousted in a palace coup vote by Ramon Calderon); Barcelona (in Ecuador) for a season in 2008-09, then finally landing in Morocco just last year with Wydad FC.

And now…Canada.

Floro, officially unveiled in a CSA press conference earlier today, believes that “football is the same everywhere” and you can kind of see how he got that impression taking red eye flights from Madrid to Tokyo, Ecuador to Morocco. Your view on this and what it means for Team Canada will likely depend on how you answer the following questions:

1) Do you think that a manager needs experience within CONCACAF in order to win those crucial away matches and finally take Canada through to the Hex where, as CSA president Victor Montagliani put it, “anything can happen”?

2) Do you think it’s important for a national team coach to speak the language of the national team players (Floro required a translator to answer questions today)?

3) Do you consider a long international managerial CV a sign of a respected football person in global demand, or someone bouncing from club to club selling hope to a bunch of desperate suckers?

4) Is it important for Canada to appoint a Canadian coach?

Before I answer these questions (because my opinion matters goddamnit!), let me first say I don’t really think this appointment means anything. As we’ve seen over several decades, the managerial position has relatively little long-term impact. If you care about the future fortunes of the national team, you need to focus on what the CSA is doing to develop a national coaching curriculum and create a better, national player development pathway. Insofar as Floro generally helps technical director Tony Fonseca in his job (and insofar as Tony Fonseca is good at his job), it will be a success. Okay, there, I’ve ground my ax.

Still, the margins are not so great between making it and failing that a few little things won’t help Canada get to that crucial Hexagonal stage and then, who knows? So, in a sense, this does matter? A lot even. Which means I’ve just completely contradicted myself. Good.

As far as my answers to the above questions go:

1) Kind of, but I think it more depends on the approach and standard of the manager. Winning away is often more about developing a mentality of togetherness that a manager only has so much control over. Friendlies with the same core of guys might be a better approach.

2) Floro said he knows he needs to improve his English. So, good?

3) I think that Floro isn’t a World Cup winning manager, and I fear he may have a tactically outdated approach that will be caught out at the business end of a difficult qualification round. But I don’t know the guy from Adam. And neither do you. This is the best place to be! Blank slate!

4) What matters is the success of the national team. Winning is what matters. Points are what matters. Short sentence cliches are what matters. We can talk about better coaching education to widen the pool but that is a separate conversation. Actually it’s probably far more important than any blog post about Floro.

The timing of the CSA press conference was accidental—the Canadian Soccer Association almost certainly would have wanted to make the announcement after the Gold Cup but Marca’s leak left the national association with little choice. But it’s also kind of fortuitous. Today is free agency day in the NHL, so the story will be buried. A lot of regular presser guys were absent. The Gold Cup starts this weekend and Floro will be a friendly observer.

So any doubts about Floro’s pedigree won’t make it to the surface. Some of the more familiar tropes won’t get much airplay either, including Floro’s first language, his nationality, and the distraction his appointment might pose to the players (which is kind of a dumb argument).

Will he be any good? Who the hell knows? And that’s kind of a fun place to be.

Comments (8)

  1. Some positives, I think:

    1. He has previous professional coaching experience (unlike Stephen Hart);
    2. He isn’t a CSA old-boy (unlike Dale Mitchell);
    3. He has coached at a high-level which may earn him some respect from the players (which has apparently been an issue in the past);
    4. He has coached in Mexico and Ecuador and as a result would have some limited exposure to style of plan and level of shenanigans.

    I am looking forward to seeing what he does with the next crop of players and am hopeful he casts the DeGuzmans and Derosarios aside as part of the set-up in the future.

  2. 1) No, but he should be observant of his environment and understand the difficulties of playing away. It’s not like concacaf away fixtures are unique as we make them sound. Teams face similar circumstances in Africa and South America when playing qualifying matches.

    2) Absolutely, but he should be given time to pick up the language.

    3) Not really important. CSA doesn’t have the budget for an A-level candidate. The question is whether this is the half eaten apple we want to take a bite out of. The other name in the hat was Juan Carlos Osorio, I think this is sightly better, ignoring the fact he hasn’t learned english yet.

    4) It’s important for us to appoint someone who is more qualified than we have in the past. At the current time, I see no Canadian who actually fits the profile of a potential national team manager. We’ve been too insular for too long and need to open up our horizons.

    • Osorio went down in flames his last season in MLS with the Red Bulls in 2009. Mind you, that last place team completely thumped TFC 5-0 when Toronto had a playoff berth on the line in the season’s final match.

  3. The bottom line is that in Canada it doesn’t make a bit of difference (and never will) who the manager is; who the technical ‘adviser’ (?) is – or even who is selected to play. Although proof of this is everywhere, let me just quote two literally overwhelming bits from the foregoing column: 1. “The timing of the CSA press conference was accidental … but also kind of fortuitous. Today is free agency day in the NHL, so the story will be buried. A lot of regular presser guys were absent.” And we expect the ‘fans’ (the few who watch and attend games, that is) to care more?! 2. “the Hex where, as CSA president Victor Montagliani put it, ‘anything can happen’”! This is so Alice-in-Wonderland, so utterly incomprehending (of history, of reality, of everything that is soccer in Canada, in the CONCACAF, in the world-at-large) that it is kinder not to comment. So good luck, Señor Floro – you’ll need every bit you can find for the short time you’ll be spending in Canada.

    • More than likely, they were closing this deal and hoping to keep it quiet until post gold cup. They got scooped by the spanish press which meant they had to scramble to get it out there.

      Better this than rumors floating around for the entire tournament with players / coaching staff looking over their shoulders.

  4. the presser was more jam packed than any TFC coaching announcement

  5. Just a point about #2: Otto Rehhagel still can barely speak a word of Greek and yet was able to create a tactically defensive juggernaut with a team that was more known to leak goals than prevent them prior to his arrival.

  6. good for the people who are positive…. many years well spoken English coaches and none qualified Canada to wc

    soccer as a game must be a motivation… if you start the game thinking in loosing… better stay home… a good chance for floro to give all his knowledge and experience to the real fans and soccer lovers to take Canada to world cups…

    about the negative people….. not a moment to pay attention…

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