Skip to content

Red Bulls manager Hans Backe: critics say one thing, spiffy record says something else

May 15, 2012, 8:00 PM EDT

Vancouver Whitecaps FC v New York Red Bulls Getty Images

Seems like New York Red Bulls manager Hans Backe is always “in season.”  Seems like the bows, arrows, laterns and pitchforks are always handy where that guy is concerned.

I realize that some of the Swedish manager’s quirky choices make him a slow-moving target for critics wishing to plunk him with their poison pellets.

But the facts say something different. And from the day Backe managed his first match at Red Bull Arena, the team’s structure and organization on the field immediately looked night-and-day different, an improvement what most managers had delivered previously to the highest profile MLS market.

Long story short, Backe has done what so few have before him: established a winning record at a place that, statistically speaking, it’s been darn hard to do.

Past New York managers (with year, record and winning percentage):

Eddie Firmani (1996)                     3-5-0               .375

Carlos Queiroz (1996)                   12-12               .500

Carlos Alberto Parreira (1997)        13-19              .406

Alfonso Mondelo (1998)                 14-17              .452

Bora Milutinović (1998–99)              8-25               .242

Octavio Zambrano (2000–02)           41-37-8          .523

Bob Bradley (2003–05)                   32-31-26         .506

Mo Johnston (2005–06)                  4-3-8              .533

Bruce Arena (2006–07)                  16-16-10         .500

Juan Carlos Osorio (2008–09)         10-11-9          .483

Hans Backe (2010-precent)          32-20-23         .580

In this case the raw data speaks volumes. Backe’s record of 32-20-23 is easily tops among all head coaches.  No one else comes close to his .580 winning percentage. (I didn’t include Richie Williams on the list because he was always “interim” head coach, although his record was ultimately a good one.)

Backe’s records have been fairly consistent, too. He was 15-9-6 in 2010 and 10-8-16 last year. This year’s mark (7-3-1) is probably the man’s best work yet, considering the destabilizing effect of injuries tantalizing drama around Red Bull Arena.

Now contrast that shiny record to sentiment that has largely rained on his reign: considering last year’s second-round playoff exit and this year’s sluggish start (one that wasn’t all that bad if you really study the results), perhaps no manager was under as much pressure in late March.

Yes, Backe has the second highest payroll in MLS. But that doesn’t always mean much. Just look at what the top payroll in MLS gets you in 2012: Seventh place in the West, so far.

But if we’re honest, New York always had a leg up in personnel, going back to the early years. That means all those other managers had a head start in terms of talent. And yet, look at those records.

For whatever reason, New York has always been a tough place to earn results.

This is a new day around the franchise; that fancy building certainly helps. Still, Backe must be doing something right. So, remember that next time the laterns and pitchforks come out, as they invariably do.

Because some of those other names on the Red Bulls-exes list, they’re still out there and available.

 

Latest Posts
  1. MLS Snapshot: New York Red Bulls 3-0 DC United

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls AP

    A complete performance from the Red Bulls, who will finish the season unbeaten against their Atlantic Cup rivals.

  2. Done Deals: De Bruyne joins Manchester City in busy day for Wolfsburg

    Aug 30, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT

    FBL-ENG-GER-ARSENAL-WOLFSBURG-FRIENDLY Getty Images

    Find out what moves have been completed with the transfer deadline approaching, as Wolfsburg made three big deals today.

  3. MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 2-1 Portland Timbers

    Aug 30, 2015, 7:04 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwiwy2q3odk1zwm3ownizgywzdkyota2nwzhymvkmgrl AP

    More than 64,000 supporters packed CenturyLink Field as the Sounders downed the Timbers in a Cascadia Cup clash.

  4. La Liga & Serie A roundup: Madrid clubs cruise; Juve loses again

    Aug 30, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT

    Karim Benzema AP

    Catch up on all of this weekend’s action from Spain and Italy’s top flights.

  5. Bayern Munich signs teen sensation Kingsley Coman from Juventus

    Aug 30, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

    FBL-ITA-SERIEA-FIORENTINA-JUVENTUS Getty Images

    The French winger has played for Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, and now Bayern Munich. All before his 20th birthday.

  6. USMNT releases 23-man roster for September friendlies

    Aug 30, 2015, 4:38 PM EDT

    Howard AP

    Tim Howard and Geoff Cameron are back in the squad, while the relatively unknown Andrew Wooten gets his first call-up.

  7. VIDEO: Garry Monk’s tactical changes led to win over Manchester United

    Aug 30, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    Newcastle United v Swansea City - Premier League Getty Images

    In a managerial battle between the young Garry Monk and the veteran Louis van Gaal, the kid came out on top.

  8. Roma beats Juventus 2-1 as defending champs drop second straight

    Aug 30, 2015, 3:05 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptqwogu2mgu2njgznjflnjbhmtyyota3mdazymzkyjvm AP

    After losing three matches all of last season, Juventus has now lost their first two games of the new campaign.

  9. VIDEO: Louis van Gaal laments being “too dominant” in loss to Swansea City

    Aug 30, 2015, 2:08 PM EDT

    VanGaal Getty Images

    The Manchester United manager believed his club got so comfortable on the ball that they lost their focus.

  10. Saint-Etienne striker Bahebeck hospitalized after breathing troubles

    Aug 30, 2015, 1:38 PM EDT

    Bahebeck Getty Images

    Reports indicate the Saint-Etienne medical staff was initially afraid that the young striker had suffered a heart attack, but it appears the issues are just heat related.

  11. Swansea City 2-1 Manchester United: Swans comeback stuns Red Devils

    Aug 30, 2015, 12:51 PM EDT

    Gomis Getty Images

    The Red Devils thought they’d picked up points at the Liberty Stadium, but Bafetimbi Gomis had other ideas.

  12. Sunday Transfer Rumor Roundup: Draxler to Wolfsburg, Wanyama to leave Saints

    Aug 30, 2015, 11:48 AM EDT

    Draxler Getty Images

    Juventus was in for the Schalke winger, but Wolfsburg now need a replacement for Kevin de Bruyne.

  13. Manchester City officially signs Kevin de Bruyne

    Aug 30, 2015, 11:12 AM EDT

    DeBruyne Getty Images

    Wolfsburg tried its darndest, but Kevin de Bruyne still decided to leave in favor of a crowded Manchester City squad.

  14. Watch Live: Swansea City vs Manchester United (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptfly2fjmgq3njvimzkxyze4mmmxowe2zwziyzg0mwvi AP

    Manchester United has started the season strong, but they take on a team that beat them twice last season.

  15. Southampton 3-0 Norwich City: Saints swarm 10-man Norwich for season’s first win

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:22 AM EDT

    Pelle Getty Images

    Graziano Pelle grabbed the opener and Dusan Tadic finished it off with a brace as Southampton flew to its first win of the year.

  16. Victor Valdes to trudge on at Manchester United after Besiktas move falls apart

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:29 AM EDT

    Valdes Getty Images

    Could Valdes be forced to stay with Manchester United despite his obvious wish to leave?

  17. Australian striker scores eight goals in A-League preseason match

    Aug 30, 2015, 8:46 AM EDT

    Maclaren Getty Images

    Oh the season hasn’t started yet? Jamie Maclaren wasn’t aware.

  18. Watch Live: Southampton vs Norwich City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Aug 30, 2015, 7:50 AM EDT

    Koeman Getty Images

    Ronald Koeman must pick up a win fast or risk seeing Southampton in a serious early season hole.

  19. Montreal’s Frank Klopas becomes first MLS head coach fired this season

    Aug 30, 2015, 7:30 AM EDT

    Klopas Getty Images

    A single coach had yet to be fired as we approach the start of September, but that changed as Montreal made a change.

  20. MLS Snapshot: FC Dallas 2-0 Real Salt Lake (video)

    Aug 29, 2015, 11:37 PM EDT

    Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas

    The playoffs look a might big ask of RSL, as they sit rock bottom, 10th place, in the Western Conference.

Featured video

Highlights: Swansea's win vs. Man United