Thursday, October 16, 2008

Free Paul Mariner

I've been in a goofy mood all week.

I don't know what it is. A lingering sinus infection may be the cultprit. Well, that, and I don't know, every one of the local teams losing - LOSING - this past week. The Patriots? 30-10 loss to the Chargers. The Sox? They haven't won since Fish & Chips day. The Revolution? Not only an embarrassing 1-0 loss to Kansas City, but Hercules Gomez manages to expell the club's MLS Cup dreams by undercutting Steve Ralston with a late-tackle. Even the Bruins - the same I club I hoped to play right wing for by the time I turned 21* - lost on Saturday night, 4-3, to the Nashville Predators.

(*In eighth grade, my teacher asked us to trace ourselves on large sheets of post-consumer paper and illustrate on that life-sized paper doll what we wanted to be. So I drew myself as a Boston Bruins player, and noted at the bottom "Age 21." Lofty goal for a wee lad like myself, who could barely stop himself on ice skates. The dream was clearly based on the assumption that the NHL was identical to the street hockey games I played with my neighborhood friends at the Perry-McStay Funeral home parking lot across the street.)

To compound matters, my television croaked on Sunday. My wonderous, 27" Magnavox, which projected soccer games from afar into my very bedroom, unceremoniously departed this plane of existence at approximately 4:27pm after I tried to reinstall my PS2 to said TV. A white spark eminated during the attempt. An artificial, plastic (?) odor seeped into my nostrils. I tried to revive the patient, but it never responded. R.I.P. Magnavox O'Connell, 1996-2008.

ANYWAY, this weird mood of mine was in full effect last night while I watched the USA-T & T (not to be confused with TNT Vacations) World Cup qualifier. I had to watch it on the big screen downstairs, which was fine. But it robbed me of my ability to watch from my desk, where copious amounts of related info are less than an arm length away.

Here's where it gets really nutty, though. Seems like there was this debate last night, and my dad wanted to watch it. Heck, so did I, even though I could have easily answered the questions for both candidates considering I've heard the same ones ad nauseam for the past 739 days, or whenever these guys announced their candidacies. And while I flipped back and forth between the game and the debate, a peculiar thought popped into my brain.

Now, Revolution assistant coach Paul Mariner is often a name that floats among the MLS universe whenever a managerial position opens. How he does not have such a job must be a state secret because there are some pretty darn clueless managers inhabiting space on the MLS landscape. I won't say who, but I will say that Mariner must have done something during his playing days to warrant this situation. I tried to find any damning evidence on YouTube, and older editions of When Saturday Comes. Nada.

Mind you, his presence here in New England is great. Him and Nicol have run one of the sturdiest ships in the MLS fleet. From what I've gathered, the players love ol' PM, and he would seem to be an ideal candidate for the job he doesn't, but should, have.

Eventually, someone important in MLS will wisen up. That's not to say that overtures haven't been made. The Revolution organization has kept Mariner in its stall with good reason. But, there will come a time when Mariner's contract runs up, and he will entertain offers left and right with the zeal unseen since the demand for TomKat's baby Suri photos.

What am I getting at?

This: Paul Mariner should be the next manager of the Revolution. Whatever it takes. Whenever Stevie Nicol steps down, resigns or is promoted to a front office position*, Mariner must assume the title. Let's face it - Nicol can't manage forever, although he is the league's elder stateman in the managerial conversation.

(*Which he'd be perfectly suited for. As a judge of talent, Nicol is without peer, and one could easily see him in a director of player personnel position either in MLS or abroad.)

Methinks it might be a good idea that Mariner's contract contain, if does not already, language that assumes he will be the next gaffer should Nicol wish to depart to greener pastures.

I'm at a loss as to the reason why Mariner hasn't already gotten the nod from another club. Maybe the Revs seem content to keep him under lock and key. Or maybe it's because his name just doesn't ooze the sexiness of a Ruud Gullitt. A Bruce Arena. A Juan Carlos Osario. Even a Fernando Clavijo, who I will bet dollars to doughnuts, will find another managerial spot before Mariner finds his first. If you know why this is, then please enlighten me and post it in the comments section.

Maybe it's politics. CNN claims it is politics. But I feel MLS is politics as well. To me, it's one of the main reasons why Mariner is not guiding a club of his own right now. Whether it's between Mariner and the Revs and/or the rest of the league, is anyone's guess. Whatever it is, it's an remarkable injustice that one of the best assistant coaches in MLS has not yet been given the opportunity to oversee a club of his own.

And there you have it. Politics and soccer, without a hint of partisanship.

Jeez, it has been a goofy week.

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