The Andell Holdings era for the Chicago Fire wouldn’t be considered a success on the field by many fans. The Men In Red have only made four playoff appearances since Andrew Hauptman’s first full season in 2008. This has been frustrating, no doubt.
What’s more vexing? The consistent inability for Andrew Hauptman to surround himself with people who can execute on a vision for this club in this community and this team on the field.
This ownership group has seen 6 managers in 11 years. Juan Carlos Osorio jumped to the New York Red Bulls soon after Andrew Hauptman entered the picture, and assistant Dennis Hamlett took the reins. Hamlett was the most successful manager in the Andell Holdings history, but back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals were not enough to stick around, and he was deemed not fit for the job. Carlos de los Cobos came almost as quickly as he came, out after a year and a half, and was followed by Frank Klopas who tallied one playoff appearance and was given less than three full seasons at the helm. The Frank Yallop years were a disaster, and he was relieved of his duties in 2015.
Which leads us to today. Nelson Rodriguez and Veljko Paunovic entered in 2015, and now there have been fans calling for a change in the coaching staff and front office over the international break. Yet Andrew Hauptman has displayed more patience with the Veljko Paunovic and Nelson Rodriguez duo than any in charge before them.
There’s been clear mismanagement of the roster in multiple positions, the alienation of supporters, no trophies with one playoff appearance, and now another season of mid-table mediocrity with an embarrassing U.S. Open Cup exit last week. Has Andrew Hauptman changed his approach to who he hires and the trust in their plan? Will they be given more than one opportunity in their tenure to rebuild and reboot a roster to fir their vision?
I am not calling for Veljko Paunovic’s and Nelson Rodriguez’s jobs here, but the reality of the situation is they have done less than with more time than other management pairings in the past. Veljko Paunovic seems like a great man, and a capable football manager given the correct team and circumstances (tournament competitions, younger players, teams lacking a leader, etc.). Nelson Rodriguez is still well respected across the league, but they’ve had more opportunity than their predecessors, in regard to both time, talent and budget and still have almost less to show for it.
There are most likely greater ownership dynamics here at play that just Andrew Hauptman making the decision, but we are three and a half years in to the Veljko Paunovic and Nelson Rodriguez era, longer than any other manager and team president this ownership group has seen. What are the reasons preventing them from making the same decision they have made in the past?