I’ve had a few thoughts percolating since the Ebo trade, particularly on the timing and Gio’s reaction to it. Now, I’m not one to believe that GW and MP have "given up" on the 2021 season. I still believe that they want to remain competitive and expect to make the playoffs, which I think most can agree is a reasonable expectation from where we are at the moment.
However, I think that PTFC’s priorities have shifted during the season and this is illustrated best by the Ebo trade and Gio’s reaction to it. To get my bias out of the way, I have grown into an Ebo fan. I was hard on him at first, but I believe his game has improved, and he has added the dimensions that I was critical of him in the past. Particularly his touch, spatial awareness, and ability to run at defenders. However, I also do not think it was a bad trade.
What was most telling... was Gio’s reaction to it. He may have simply been upset that these deals were made without him having a say, or against his wishes, which is completely understandable. But the questions that linger are: Why would a coach of a struggling team be upset at a trade that jettisons a player from a crowded position and gets in return $1.2 mil in GAM to redistribute to and strengthen weaker positions on the field? Wouldn’t this give him the opportunity to have a more well-rounded team and make his job easier?
From Gio’s perspective, Ebo is a player that has gotten him a lot of results, and was key to the biggest accomplishment in his career – winning the MLS is Back tournament. He’s also a versatile player, and has shown that he can even score goals from his weaker position on the wing. Coaches value players like this. But of course, we have two better strikers than him and a new winger coming in from Colombia. So again, why is Gio upset?
This is my theory. Gio is on the hot seat and is in "win now" mode to prove that he’s worth keeping on the job. Ebo is a player and goal-scorer that helps in the "win now" mode, and has certainly been instrumental in Gio’s successful periods with PTFC. Furthermore, in gauging Gio’s reaction from the trade, I don’t believe PTFC plans to immediately flip the funds garnered from the Ebo trade to strengthen the team in other areas. The FO and Gio are on two different tracks: the former is transitioning away from the old guard and patiently building the next generation, while the latter is trying to win the games to prove that he belongs with the organization for that next generation. Unfortunately for Gio, the FO just took away one of the main tools in his bag.
The only logical conclusion I can draw is that the FO is acting independently of Gio, and this does not help him in his self-preservation campaign. He just had one of his key pieces removed, and was given nothing in return that will help him for the remainder of this make-or-break season for him. Things aren’t looking great on the Gio front.