What he said: Jim Curtin's first press conference
Opening statement (yes, it's this long):
First, I’d like to thank Jay Sugarman and Nick Sakiewicz for giving me this opportunity. It’s one I’m very excited about, one I’ll take with great pride, being from this city, it means a lot to me. I’d also like to thank John Hackworth and Rob Vartughian. Those are two guys that were able to give me my chance in the game with this club. Those are two guys that put in a lot of years here and left the club better than when they started. …
To the team, I’d say to put it simply, we’ve had a bunch of very good players have poor first halves of the season. We have 18 games left; that’s the good news. We have 18 games to get this ship right. We have the U.S. Open Cup, which we’re going to take very seriously. This club needs a trophy. There’s only two that you can lift, and that’s one of them, so we’re going to take that very seriously.
The big thing with me, the results haven’t been there this year. We all know that. We only have three wins in 16 games, so the results haven’t been here. But the resources are here to win. I’m confident in my staff that’s being formed right now, it’s getting pieced together, it’s a very strong one, it’s one that I trust. As an assistant coach, I have Mike Sorber, a guy who I respect a great deal, I’ve connected with very quickly, I’ve known from the past, times in Chicago. He’s a guy in a lot of ways who is more qualified as an assistant than anyone in MLS right now. He’s a guy that has World Cup experience. He’s a guy that’s played in a World Cup, so again a guy I’m going to lean on heavily. I also have a bright young technical director who’s very progressive in Chris Albright, a guy that I have a great relationship with. Again, has done everything that you can do in this game, an all-Star, he’s played in a World Cup, He is a guy that I’m going to lean on heavily to make decisions personnel wise, along with Nick….
On to the players, right up the middle, you talk about a Conor Casey who right now is in very good form, scoring four goals in his past two games. He’s a guy that just needed a run of games, and now he’s got that and he’s going to get that with me. He’s a guy I trust. We have a Vincent Nogueira right up the middle again, a guy that every coach in this league wants on his team. He’s special. We have Maurice Edu, who in my mind should be in Brazil right now, but he’s not. Has it been tough for him mentally? Yes it has, but we’re going to get him going the way we know he can be, and he’s a special player, one of the top players in this country and one of the top players in this league. When we talk about the things behind the scenes that are going on with this club, we talk about the resources that we had, the little things that you might not see – again I said the results might not be here, but the resources are. ...
We have the most passionate fans in the league, I believe. I’m a Philly fan as well. ... I know the passion that the fans have, I know the emotions that they have, and I know that the thing that they want is winning. That’s what this is about. We need to win. And we’re going to do it with accountability, accountability from the players on and off the field. That sounds like a simple message. I could sit up here and talk tactics and formations and all that stuff, but at the end of the day, what matters in this town is winning, that’s what I believe.
On the interim basis as his audition:
I know I’m a 34-year-old coach. That’s the reality of this situation. I have things to learn, but I do think I know what it takes to win in this league, that’s for sure. We joked about it, but I understand that there’s going to be a search for a coach to come in here. That’s going to happen. All I asked was that Nick keep me informed, and I gave him the green light, and if it’s Alex Ferguson leaving his Harvard classes to coach, I’ll oblige to that. Obviously, I’m joking, but I’m going to work as hard as I can, and I’m going to make it as difficult as I can by winning as I talked about. That’s my goal. And I know that there’s a search that has to happen. That’s the process in pro sports. A lot of the guys that are going to be interviewed are my friends, that I’ve played with in the league and I know them personally, and that’s just the way it is. Again, I don’t care if I’m fourth in command, third in command, second in command or first in command, I care about winning in this city.
On his last 48 hours:
It’s been exciting. My phone’s never rang so much before, with people in the area and agents and different people contacting me to try to get ahead of the game. That’s part of it, and goes along with it. Little things like my buddies texting me joking that I’m up there on Comcast SportsNet with Chip Kelly and all that. That’s stuff’s special. It’s cool. Was it something that I thought was going to happen at the beginning of the year? No, it’s not. And it’s probably not the way I wanted this to go, but that’s the reality of it. I’m going to take it and I’m going to run with it. That’s my goal right now.
On differences in training:
There will be things that will be different for sure. There will be tweaks to different things. I’m, I’d like to say, short and sharp. I like to get the work done quickly. I don’t want long sessions that can drag out, so I’ll try to shorten that part up, save our guys’ legs. I think maybe last year toward the end of the year, maybe because we trained so hard, we were a little lethargic and slow down the stretch. And the summer in MLS is where teams can make up a lot of points. Teams are injured, beat up, guys are missing with international duty, so again, if you have your stuff together and your guys are fresh going into the weekend with the belief that they can win, this is a time they can steal points.
On discussions with the players:
I’ve talked to every player so far on the team. They’re excited. Any time that there’s a coaching change, everybody feels that they get a new chance, which is true. I’m going to open this up and say, ‘every guy has a new crack.’ Obviously I’ve seen them and I’m familiar with them, but at the same time, I’m going to try to put that behind me and really open up for competition. Because, a little bit of fear, a little bit of motivation for the guys that have been consistently in the lineup is a good thing. I think it’s a great motivator. Fear is a good motivator. We have good young players. We have good older players. I don’t care if you’re young or old; I think there’s only good and bad. Whatever age you are, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to put the best team on the field. The team picks itself. I’m a big believer in that. During the week of training, the team picks itself.
On possible changes on the tactical side:
There will be some tweaks here and there. We’re not going to bring in 24 new players. That’s not the idea. We’re not changing the personnel. Are there little moves? Yeah, we can change some positions. We can have some hard conversations with some guys for where they’re best suited to help the team to win games again, and maybe that’s playing out of position for a game and putting them in the best position to have success on the field.