Would Laurent Blanc be a good fit to replace Arena as USMNT manager? Probably not
According to a report, he may be interested in the job. But should the U.S. be interested in him?
As U.S. Soccer aims to find its replacement for manager Bruce Arena, France Football has thrown one big name into the hat -- former France and PSG manager Laurent Blanc. The report proposes the idea that Blanc would be interested in the job after receiving interest from MLS but does not confirm that he has been contacted by U.S. Soccer or anything like that.
Is he the right guy with the current state of U.S. Soccer? Let's examine:
What kind of coach is he?
Blanc is the rare combination of really successful player turned really good manager. After a sensational playing career during which he won the World Cup in 1998 and the Euros in 2000 with France and played for top clubs like Barcelona, Marseille, Inter Milan and Manchester United, Blanc has managed three teams -- Bordeaux (2007-10), France (2010-12) and PSG (2013-16). He's a fiery coach that doesn't want individual drama or stars, one who wants every player's priority to be on the team, with a high work rate and togetherness.
U.S. Soccer facing a philosophical dilemma; does Blanc fit?
This is the big question, and we may not know the answer for quite some time. U.S. Soccer is in a spot nobody saw coming. After missing out on the World Cup during a cycle that saw the U.S. use a foreign tactician in Jurgen Klinsmann and then the American soccer mind Bruce Arena, the U.S. is going to need to go one of those routes again to fix this thing. Does the team need a foreign mind to help right the ship while sacrificing the lack of understanding of the domestic game or do they need someone to help fully rebuild the entire U.S. soccer program from top to bottom? Blanc would be the former, but definitely not the latter.
Why Blanc would be a good fit
When it comes to the U.S. job, he speaks English, has experience as a national team manager at the highest level and knows what it takes to win. At Bordeaux he won four trophies, and at PSG he won 11. Those are all accomplishments that would excite any fan, especially what he did at Bordeaux with not a lot of talent.
Why he would be a bad fit
He likely isn't super familiar with a lot of the U.S. players and has to have witnessed the backlash the last international manager for the U.S. got in Klinsmann. He will certainly be a candidate for much bigger jobs than leading the U.S., be it European clubs or other national teams. He was linked with Barcelona's opening this past summer. He's also a bad fit at the moment because of where U.S. Soccer is right now. The USMNT is far from a polished product and Blanc seems more like the type of manager who could give a good-and-ready team that final push it needs. The U.S., as mentioned, may be in need of a complete overhaul that may need to go all the way down to the way the youth programs are set up. That's likely not what a manager like Blanc would be looking to focus on. There could be a presidential change in February and an overhaul of players. Somebody with more knowledge as to what the player pool is currently like makes a ton of sense and would probably have more early success.
Final verdict on Blanc for the U.S.
To put it simply, Blanc would be a bad fit if hired. If he were to come on board next year, he would have to wait almost two years for World Cup qualifying to begin. Blanc is a person who belongs in the big competitions and would want to push himself as a manager as opposed to leading a full-on revolutionary rebuild of a foreign soccer program.
Somebody like Tab Ramos, ingrained in the program with as good of an idea on the upcoming talent as any, remains a much better option at this time. It's all going to come down to the direction U.S. Soccer wants to go in. If it feels like it doesn't have the person locally with what it takes to get this team back to the World Cup, it may have to go with the outsider route and try its luck once again.
Blanc is a good manager with tons of experience. But he shouldn't be the guy U.S. Soccer fans want to take over. Not right now.
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