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.