When word filtered back to New York that Brooklyn-born Bruce Arena was all but certain to be hired as Galaxy coach, the blogosphere comments came quick and fast.
“The Ego has landed,” wrote one person.
“Does Bruce know that Posh Spice is his real boss?” wrote another.
“Let’s see if he can do better in L.A. than N.Y.,” wrote a third. “There is evidence that Arena is still living in 2002.”
Well, it’s official now. The Arena era began Monday in Carson, when the former coach of the U.S. national team assumed the titles of Galaxy general manager and coach, positions previously held by Alexi Lalas and Ruud Gullit, respectively.
Not only that, Arena brought with him longtime sidekick and former national team assistant Dave Sarachan, 54, as “associate head coach.”
Cobi Jones, interim coach for one week, reverted to his assistant coach position, and Tom Payne, assistant general manager in charge of the business side of things, will remain in that role.
The position of president, also held by Lalas, has been eliminated in the new structure devised by Galaxy owner AEG. On the soccer side of things, Arena has total control.
Now, back to the matter of ego.
If Arena, 56, rubbed New York fans and media the wrong way during his one-plus seasons as Red Bulls coach after the 2006 World Cup, he learned from those mistakes.
On Monday, he spent 45 minutes in front of the television cameras and was both forthright and entertaining.
If ego comes from success, then Arena has a right to exhibit at least some pride in his achievements.
He won five NCAA titles as coach at Virginia. He won two MLS titles as coach of D.C. United and has an all-time mark of 91-56-12 in the league. He also won a U.S. Open Cup, the CONCACAF Champions Cup and the InterAmerican Cup with D.C. United.
In his eight years in charge of the national team it twice qualified for the World Cup, reaching the quarterfinals in 2002 when the Galaxy’s Jones and Landon Donovan were two of his standout players. He was 71-29-30 with the U.S. team.
As for Posh Spice calling the shots, Arena said he was looking forward to coaching her husband, David Beckham.
“I’ve been impressed with the things he’s done in this league, given all the issues and the pressures and the demands on his time,” Arena said. “I think he’s got a pretty healthy attitude toward the league. Who wouldn’t look forward to working with a great player? That’s one of the great parts to this job.”
However, Beckham, along with Donovan and striker Carlos Ruiz, will sit out Arena’s first game in charge -- at home against the Chicago Fire on Thursday night -- because they are with their national teams for games Wednesday.
The Galaxy, with a record of 6-8-6, has been winless in its last eight games and is in danger of not reaching the playoffs for the second year in a row.
Even so, Arena said he felt confident he could start turning around the Galaxy in the 10 remaining games in the regular season.
“We have some good players to build this team around,” he said. “We can get better and we’re capable of getting enough points to qualify for the playoffs. That’s going to be the goal.
“You asked me what’s gone wrong. I don’t know all the answers to that question.
“I intend to find out and try to make them right. That’s all I can say.”
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Galaxy coaches and their cumulative records:
*--* Coach Tenure W-L-T Lothar Osiander 1996-97 26-24-0 Octavio Zambrano 1997-99 41-22-0 Ralph Perez 1999 1-0-0 Sigi Schmid 1999-2004 95-60-35 Steve Sampson 2004-06 21-26-11 Frank Yallop 2006-07 18-21-12 Ruud Gullit 2008 6-8-5 Cobi Jones 2008 0-0-1 *--*
Source: L.A. Times