When is the “Right Time” to Call Out the Front Office?
In recent weeks, there have been more and more demands for #AnnounceDean. At first, this was a friendly jab at the club and reference to English supporters culture in “#Announce” tweets. Recently, though, the playful tone of these tweets have turned sour. With aggressive tweets to the admin, threatening of cancelling Season Tickets, and general animosity toward the club. So that leads us to the question, “When is the right time to call out the club?“
Simply, when their actions begin to damage the club. I have been guilt of calling of calling out coaching and front office in the past. I am hesitating to post this next sentence because it may ruin what relationship I have with certain coaches but I feel that it necessary to tell to get my point across. Last year, there were several points in the season when I sat down and recorded a #SoehnOut episode. Soehn, meaning Legion Head Coach Tommy Soehn. There were points in the season last year where I felt that Coach Soehn was not the man to win us championships and he was wasting a golden season.
So, Why Didn’t I Post It?
Simply, I slept on it. I thought about it. Who would replace Coach Soehn? Were there better options? No. There just weren’t. Before the season started, I predicted the Legion would finish in second and Louisville City would walk away with the division with almost a month remaining in the season. Simply, he made the team better. Does that mean he didn’t make head-scratching decisions? No, absolutely not. There is a lot that I still question, but simply put, he’s still a good coach who has never missed the playoffs. It’s okay to question the Front Office. It is okay to be skeptical. By being happy 100% of the time and becoming a “yes man” for the club, that is how complacency starts. That said, know when to pick your battles.
In Heaps We Trust
Heading into the 2021-2022 Legion Season, I was one of the main voices in the Birmingham Legion community that was “anti-Protective Stadium.” I felt that the move to a massive stadium would completely sink the club. I felt that seeing a largely empty stadium on Television would ruin the club. It would largely make the team seem “minor league” rather than “lower league.” I was afraid that the club would refuse to spend on tarps to make the stadium look good on TV. I was also afraid that the lack of intimacy would make each match feel dead, but the more I hear from players, front office, and people who were allowed to go to the stadium, it seems like it is not only the right move, but the perfect move for us. I still have fears, but I trust.
Another fear I had was when the Legion signed winger Junior Flemmings. The left winger was a Golden Boot winner and arguably one of the best attackers to ever grace the USL. Sounds like an amazing signing, right? Well, Junior was coming off a major controversy where he called openly-gay footballer Collin Martin a homophobic slur. This was a massive controversy that the Legion signed him. The “Of course it’s Alabama,” tweets came in left and right. Everything that we as Alabamians try and fight against to prove that we aren’t, seemingly was destroyed in one signing. But it was the contrary. Legion also announced a partnership with two LGBTQ+ groups in the area, the Magic City Acceptance Center and Central Alabama Pride. We never heard a peep out of Junior. In fact, I only heard positive of the Jamaican international. Later, the Legion would sell Junior for what was at the time the USL record transfer fee, for over $500,000. This is again a time I should have simply trusted in Coach Soehn and President Jay Heaps.
Okay, So What About Jonny Dean?
Well, we won’t know for a while. We know he is likely looking for a spot in the MLS or another equivalent league. His talent and performance deserves a spot in the top flight of the United States. It is very common practice that trialists will not be announced until they sign a contract, and most of the time, clubs will ask fans to not take any pictures of trialists on the fear of names getting leaked.
This is not Legion’s front office being incompetent. Legion has been known to let players walk to get a chance at first team football somewhere else, even if that player could have been an amazing depth piece for us. They could have offered Jonny a stupid amount of money that the right back could not ignore, but it would have been a poor allocation of funds, and it may not even be the right move for Jonny. Reputation means everything in this league. The more players know that this club will do what is best for every single player, even if that means losing a star, the more likely we are to sign all-star caliber players.
If there’s anything you take away from this article, it better be this:
In Heaps We Trust.