One of my favorite TV shows of all time is the West Wing. In it, after any crisis, fictional President Jed Bartlet always asked “What’s next?” when he was ready to move on to the next thing.
So what’s next for both Caleb Porter and the Portland Timbers? Well for Porter, some well deserved time off. Five years is a lot of time in one place when it comes to football managers and he left with no idea of ‘what’s next’. It seems a lot like Pep Guardiola taking his sabbatical between Barcelona and Bayern Munich jobs.
He’s got a hell of a resume that should get him hired wherever he goes next. I know I’m not the only one that saw his leaving as a gut punch. To be honest, I hope he gets as much rest as needed and attacks his next move.
But we Porter isn’t the Timbers problem anymore, they, like President Bartlet, need to ask “what’s next?”. Well, the obvious is hiring a new head coach. Merritt Paulson tweeted out that there will be an update on the coaching search supposedly after the holiday break, so hopefully we’ll know more soon.
Fully engaged on the Timbers head coach search and extremely pleased with the level of interest we are receiving. We will have a presser or some form of media availability early next week to provide a more detailed update. #RCTID— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) November 20, 2017
The tweet above was made a week ago - and yet we get radio silence from the Timbers in regards to the hiring of a new manager. I know it’s going to be a process, but at the same time they’re on the clock and it’s ticking down. On the horizon are things like the expansion draft for incoming LAFC; who are the Timbers protecting?
The draft takes place on December 12th, which also happens to be when the free agency window opens as well. The re-entry draft takes place a day later, so there’s a lot coming fast and furious. It would be nice to have a manager on board by then. I’m sure Gavin Wilkinson can handle most of that, but doesn’t the possible incoming manager have a say? These are just few of the many things they need to tackle before training camp opens less than two months from now.
The core of this team isn’t getting any younger, and one of my criticisms of Porter was his massive reluctance to play the youth. This season, Portland was ranked near the bottom of the league in playing the kids; Atlanta was the worst only giving the youth a total of four minutes and those minutes went to 17 year-old Andrew Carleton. The team needs to get younger and be willing to give minutes to those young players.
With Mattocks’ contract option not being picked up, this means for the time being that Jeremy Ebobisse is the secondary striker. Now, the Timbers and Mattocks might come to some agreement, but I’m not holding my breath. I think this might be a step in the right direction with the hope that Ebo gets more playing time under the new manager. But we know how that goes, most of the players are going to have to prove themselves again to the new guy.
How about an overhaul of the training staff? I think this was one of the most injury-laden seasons on record and in the long run, it hurt us in the playoffs. The Timbers should take a real close look at the training staff and their methods. They need to keep people off the training table and on the pitch.
These are but a few things that need to be addressed in the off-season. While it’ll seem like a long two months for most of us, for the Timbers it’s going to be a very busy couple of months.