Raphael Wicky kept coming back to two words during his opening news conference as Chicago Fire head coach.
“With hard work, you create emotions. And fans want to see emotions,” Wicky said.
The Fire’s new Swiss boss said his vision for the team will take time to build. But, he said from the opening game of the season, fans should expect a team that never gives up.
“I can guarantee them we will work hard every single day,” Wicky said. “The message to the players on the first day was I want a team with passion. You have to run and fight.”
Reporters pressed him a few times, but Wicky didn’t want to share a whole lot of details into what the Fire will look like tactically this season. He did say he prefers a possession style of play.
“I like to have the ball. I like when my team tries to control the game. But, is this always possible? Probably not.”
The challenge, Wicky said, is the amount of travel in MLS.
“Here, I think you have to be able to adapt,” Wicky said. “Can you press all the time in this league with all this travel? With going into altitude? With going into hot climates? It’s different than when you’re in Europe. If you play in Germany, the most flight is probably an hour.”
The players are just getting to know the new boss, but several of them, including Jonathan Bornstein (who played with Wicky briefly at Chivas USA) said he’s definitely not a coach to immediately punish mistakes.
“He mentioned in his first meeting with the team he had some coaches where he was playing scared,” Bornstein said. “That’s important because in my career I’ve had coaches where you’re playing scared, and then you’re not playing at the top level of your game.”
“You can always do mistakes on the field, technically, as long as you run, as long as you play together, as long as you do that for yourself and your teammates and your fans,” Wicky said.
The Fire’s roster is still incomplete. Defender Mauricio Pineda signed a homegrown contract with the club last week, and Robert Beric joined as the first designated player signing of the off-season. But, with two designated player spots still open, the new boss knows fans are getting restless. He’s urging patience.
“Over the next weeks, we will add pieces,” Wicky said.
For now Wicky’s most concerned with building a successful team culture.
“It’s not gonna happen overnight. I can’t tell you if it’s gonna be in two weeks, in two months, in three months, but we’re working hard on that every day,” Wicky said.