General Manager Gerard Nijkamp provided an update in FC Cincinnati’s head coaching search Friday morning when he spoke with reporters from the Netherlands via a conference call.
Nijkamp laid out the plans for the present, the rest of 2019 and what he expects to come next with the club’s on-field product before the future West End Stadium opens in 2021.
FCC are close to offering a candidate an 18-month contract.
Nijkamp didn’t provide any particular names, but he said a shortlist from eight names shrank to one whom the club and the individual continue dialogue – but nothing more right now. At this point, a coaching change remains a hypothetical rather than impending.
The Dutch general manger said that the head coach would agree to a short-term contract through the end of the year with an option for the 2020 season – after which FC Cincinnati leave Nippert Stadium for the West End Stadium.
At that point, the head coach might receive a contract extension, but could also move on from the club. The objective of this move is to find a head coach with experience coaching a side while the team continues cementing its foundation, Nijkamp said.
Whereas Interim Head Coach Yoann Damet is currently the club’s caretaker and overseeing matches, this next coach would be a head coach, just on an 18-month contract. (For context, former head coach Alan Koch was contracted through the 2020 season.)
“If we find this new head coach, his is more to help us for the short term at the start,” Nijkamp said. “But if there is a good relation and we get success and win games and we think there is a very good bond…then we can extend.
“It’s not a caretaker. It is someone who helps us with what we go through until we get to the new stadium in the West End.”
The Dutchman said that “bond” would need to be from the club, its technical staff and supporters together.
“High-profile” candidates want the head coaching job
This decision – and the 18-month contract – make sense.
In previous interviews, President Jeff Berding has mentioned things will change in the club’s structure once the team moves into its own stadium, rather than using Nippert. In that case, it’s a fresh start.
But the decision to offer a contract through 2020 isn’t for another fresh start. It’s FC Cincinnati being realistic with its current situation and how it can best move forward. The previous head coach was on a contract through the 2020 season, too, so there’s no change from that.
Plus, the contract length isn’t affecting FCC’s coaching search. Candidates are still eager for the opportunity, Nijkamp said.
“We received a lot of emails and phone calls from agents who present high-profile coaches who want to come to Cincinnati for six months, 18 months or two and-a-half years because they believe in the project of what’s happening with our stadium and our city,” Nijkamp said.
“We’re not talking about this could be a lower-profile coach because we only are offering an 18-month contract.”
So, what experience will the next head coach arrive with?
“These candidates have a really high profile with big experience and did this job already several times,” the Nijkamp said, referring to taking a struggling team and coming in to turn the tides.
While there’s no timeline when for when the coach is unveiled, bringing in a coach for the remainder of the 2019 season – and 2020 – is a chance for FC Cincinnati start gaining results.
That’s been an objective for Damet as the interim head coach, of course, but his managerial role is focused more on the team changing its identity and playing style rather than focusing exclusively on results.
A good way to reiterate that is looking at Damet’s coaching approach compared to the first half of the season.
When the season began, lineups and formations changed depending on the opponent’s strength. The focus was on countering what the other team created. That hasn’t been the case under Damet.
Instead, the Orange and Blue shifted their mentality to focus on themselves. The formation has stayed the same since Damet started in the May 11 win against the Montreal Impact. And while the team hasn’t won an MLS match since, each week has seen the team play in the style Damet – and Nijkamp – want for Cincinnati’s long term: a possession-dominant approach that builds from the back.
The next head coach will preach the same message, only that coach will be critiqued based on success, not just the team’s playing identity, like it has been for Damet.
“The need and wishes from the club and myself, what I think is good for this moment for this team, (is a coach) to guide the team to more wins,” Nijkamp said. “We will find him and I think we will be quick to this solution.”