Yesterday was a watershed day for the Portland Timbers, one of those key moments in the team's history that will stick with fans for many years. Though nobody seemed shocked by Merritt Paulson's decision to fire John Spencer, the first coach of the Timbers' MLS era, certainly the timing of the decision was a surprise. As was the decision to replace him with Gavin Wilkinson, on an interim basis.
The news brought up a lot of emotions for Merritt Paulson and Gavin Wilkinson, as well as from fans. Putting aside the problems many fans had in his coaching style and the lineup choices he made, many fans will fondly remember his spirit and personality. Paulson made specific mention during his press conference yesterday to the manner in which Spencer celebrated goals, something that endeared him to fans as well.
For myself, I was often amused by his interactions with the media, as he often joked around and made fun of various media members, myself and William included. He wasn't one to be too concerned with people's personal perceptions of him, never shied away from using profanity or double entendres of a nature that might have gotten him in trouble in other markets. In the end, more than anything, he wanted to be judged based on his team's performance on the field, for better or worse.
I have little doubt that he'll take many positives and lessons from this experience and go on to be successful somewhere else.
Please feel free to share your memories in the comments. Also, I've included some links to Spencer-related articles from elsewhere in the Timbers blogosphere, after the jump.
Kelly McLain at Timbers Insider says the timing was right.
sunshine at the axe offers some sage advice to Gavin Wilkinson.
Mike Donovan at oregonsports.com brings us Spencer's quotes, as preamble.
Kevin Alexander at Slide Rule Pass goes over some classic Spencer mistakes.
Andrew Brawley at timbersarmy.org reflects on a particularly trying day in Portland sports.
Ian Joy at Prost Amerika shares his thoughts about Spencer's firing and Gavin's new role.