Red Bulls set sights on McAllister as Backe replacement

HoullierMcAllister (Getty)

The New York Red Bulls are in the middle of a playoff race, and could still conceivably win an MLS Cup title, but that isn't stopping the people now running the Red Bulls from making plans for major off-season changes.

After disposing of former general manager and sporting director Erik Soler earlier this week, the Red Bulls are already lining up a replacement for head coach Hans Backe, and while several names have already surfaced as alleged targets, sources tell SBI that one coach has emerged as a front-runner to lead the Red Bulls in 2013.

That man is Gary McAllister.

The 47-year-old former Scotland international is a close confidant of Gerard Houllier, the man now running the soccer side of things for the Red Bulls (and Red Bull's global soccer operations) and sources with knowledge of the club's strategy tell SBI that Houllier is strongly considering bringing in McAllister as the team's new head coach once the 2012 season ends.

McAllister spent two seasons playing at Liverpool under Houllier, and the two forged a friendship that eventually led to McAllister serving as Houllier's assistant manager during Houllier's stint with Aston Villa during the 2010-2011 season. A former manager at Coventry City and Leeds, McAllister temporarily took over as Villa manager late in the 2010/2011 season when Houllier became ill, but left the club when Alex McLeish was hired as Aston Villa's new manager in the summer of 2011. That was McAllister's last coaching job.

Backe is wrapping up his third season as Red Bulls head coach, the longest stint he has spent at one job since a four-year run as head coach of FC Copenhagen from 2001 to 2005. The departure of Soler, and Houllier's takeover of soccer operations should seal Backe's fate, though there is the possibility that he keeps his job if he leads the Red Bulls to a championship.

Barring a title run, Backe's days with the Red Bulls look numbered and it looks as though the Red Bulls will be turning to another European coach to take the reins.

What do you think of this development? Like the idea of McAllister being the new Red Bulls coach? Worried about another coach with no MLS experience taking over in New York?

Share your thoughts below.

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64 Responses to Red Bulls set sights on McAllister as Backe replacement

  1. Petaluman says:

    Can’t they just wait until the season is over? I don’t understand why they’d want to allow for such distraction during the stretch run.

  2. PD says:

    Seriously, this ownership must have a “no I’m stupider” contest going on. The club finally gets their act together, starts making noise regarding challenging for a trophy and you pull the rug out from under it with this sideshow? All this could have been kept under wraps until the offseason.

  3. Fred says:

    So… Backe hasn’t been fired yet? Is he going to be kept on as a technical adviser

  4. john.q says:

    bad timing. BAD TIMING.

  5. WK says:

    Ahh HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa! Red Bull fans can’t catch a break. I can’t speak to McAllister (but he’s no SAF) and if he’s that close to Houllier he cant be that clever. The only manager to set Villa back more than Houllier was McLeish- ask any Villa friends.

    Houllier in charge of operations- that’s freaking hilarious! AND to announce it now of all times- just wow. My sympathies, Metro- i mean Red Bull fans.

  6. The Imperative Voice says:

    The recent moves are ill-timed, but this does not feel like it is proceeding on our calendar. Cause on its face you have the second best East team, third overall, humming along OK but not great, as good a shot at a crapshoot MLS title as anyone else. Why rock that boat? They could dump Backe and Soler in November, put in their designated slate then, and still fish in the winter window with the new front office and management faces already in place. It’s almost like they want the current team not to succeed. Because if it did, with lame duck management in place, how then heck would that look?

    Finding a way to shed Marquez and bring in a player of similar expense but actual performance would solve half their problems.

    As far as McAllister goes, that rings a little “Queiroz” to me. With the Red Bull money and NY/NJ location you’d think they could do better if it’s a marquee European coach. I mean, if it’s going to be handpicked Houllier cronies, why not the man himself?

  7. chris says:

    Hahahaha this team just becomes easier and easier to root against. How dumb is this ownership? Your about to enter the playoffs and your making changes

  8. Eugene says:

    This is so gawd-damned messed up on so many levels. If they do this and they continue to discuss before the season is over, I’m done as a Red Bulls fan.

    I won’t sit around for mediocrity. Bringing in a European coach with ZERO MLS knowledge and not having anyone based in NY with any power that can assist him in operating here is a recipe for DISASTER.

    These changes are INCREDIBLY DISRESPECTFUL to the long-suffering fans here. If this RB is going to operate, they can go to hell.

  9. Eugene says:

    If this is *how* RB is going to operate, they can go to hell.

    There are perfectly good coaching candidates here already, not that they should even REMOTELY be discussed before the end of the season.

    How about Steve Nicol? How about Juan Pablo Angel, if he retires?

  10. mito says:

    yeah, this is screwed up. I bet a city like New York could attract someone like Biesla, and instead they continue with people who have distain and disrespect for US soccer.

  11. KillerIntict says:

    Yeah, but dont you know, European coaches have been given to us by the soccer gods. They are far superior in coaching…lol..its a joke…this country doesn’t respect itself in soccer enough to keep our coaching recruitment in house. At least try more coaches from Latin America…Im just tired of our league becoming the retiring league for European coaches as well, and introducing them as the savior of the league.

  12. BFT says:

    My god, I’m glad my team isn’t owned by these clowns.

  13. dan says:

    Well said mito!!! it so plain to see the disdain and disrespect many Euros have towards “soccer” in the US.

  14. Eugene says:

    I don’t care where they come from, I just want them to succeed. Parachuting in a guy who has no knowledge means this is going to be yet another multi-year project for him to figure it out. That doesn’t create success or dynasties, that just creates endless mediocrity and failure.

  15. Darwin says:

    Ha, that’s my dog’s name, Mito. +1

  16. Eric says:

    Not a Red Bulls fan but this is puzzling for several reasons. First, why would you do this on the eve on the playoffs? Even if you’re considering replacing Backe, why not keep this very private until after the playoffs are over? All this could do is destabilize the team.

    Also, why McAllister? Looking over his resume, he has a mediocre at best record as a manager in England’s League One with Leeds (I’m not counting his time as caretaker of Aston Villa since he was not originally hired for the job, nor did he keep it). You combine what seems to be a very average coaching record with no knowledge of MLS in any capacity and this would seem to be a disaster in the making.

  17. Sabella says:

    I have been saying, along with many other RBNY fans, that Backe must go. BUT, to start tinkering with this issue in the middle of the playoff race is nothing short of idiotic. Its beyond words. This could very well undermine their title run.

  18. Rabid RBNY says:

    Perhaps this can provoke emotion and decisions with purpose from an otherwise tepid coaching staff that seemingly has never had any kind of pressure since his arrival. I don’t quite buy the revolving door notion since it seems Backe is finishing his contract and Backe for better or worse has outlasted the average Metro/RBNY coach.

  19. Tim F. says:

    The curse of Caricola manifests itself in mysterious ways…

    Erik Soler’s departure, let alone the timing of his departure, is most puzzling. I wish Jérôme the best and I believe he will do well but wonder where RBFO believes Erik fell short as a GM?

    Erik was probably the best GM in the club’s history. I have to believe that he will be offered the GM spot at another MLS club in days if not seconds after it announced he was just going to remain only as an advisor to RBNY.

  20. Nysoccerisajoke says:

    Cosmos fan here….bWaaahaaahahaWa!!! J/k

    This doesn’t make sense. When do the Hunts take over?
    It good Garbers working on that 2nd team in the area. I suppose MLS is going to fold the RB’s for lack of fan support eventually. It’ll be good to have something else in place when that time comes.

  21. David says:

    backe has made some mistake’s which is the reason why we are not the best in MLS in 1st place and he still has not fixed our giving up early goal ways which will make us out of the playoffs again

  22. JoeW says:

    As I read the article, the intention is NOT to bring in McAllister during the season or playoffs. But if you’re Backe and you know you’re definitely toast, what’s to stop you from jumping ship now (or next week) b/c of another opening in Europe? This reminds me of the Walter Zenga situation (I know, they’re not the same on a bunch of levels) but b/c Zenga had no commitment from the team, he jumped ship for an opportunity outside of MLS and left NE high and dry while they were near the end of the season.

    I understand why Houllier would want a group of people who are aligned in terms of how they approach running a team, acquiring talent, building the team. But a coach who has no experience with MLS needs a support system. If McAllister is hired, it becomes essential that the rest of the management staff be filled out with guys who know MLS inside and out, have seen all of the refs work (and know their specific issues), know the fields and which ones are soggy in which corner, have dealt with the Coast-to-Coast travel on a routine basis, know how the waiver system works, how the draft works, have contacts with 30-40 college programs and the top 20 youth coaches in the NY/NJ area. But I don’t think that’s how it’s going to play out.

  23. Bellus Ludas says:

    Backe to Cosmos…Cosmos to MLS

    Justice, Revenge and Intrigue all served up in the same city…Now that would be fun!

  24. Murph says:

    I don’t think this will be a distraction for Backe or the team at all. I had a chance to talk with the coach at an event prior to the season. He said straight out, he knows he has to win the championship to keep his job and went further to say he would deserve being fired if he didn’t. He knows the deal.

  25. Mufasa says:

    “Cosmos fan here…” Cool! Me too!
    I support Harchester United in EPL, and you?

  26. Utep says:

    Is not that bad due to the fact Henry is always looking in as a coach and conde looks like he hates the system and Marquez too. This team wants to be big and why not. MLS coaches will learn from the experience but i do think MLS can use some latin american coaches just like Europeans.On the other hand MLS needs different point of views from the real soccer heads soccer instead of sticking to the old saying of, ” He doesn’t know the MLS or the US soccer pyramid.” What about bob bradley in Egypt? Or when jose mourinho comes to the MLS…. whats going to be the perception.

  27. T-moble says:

    19,000 plus a game, no need to fold the team.

  28. GSScasual says:

    How can you be a fan of a non-existent team?

  29. GSScasual says:

    I wander if he is a NFL fan as well… Miami Sharks? I hear they have an inspiring manager

  30. Eugene says:

    The 19,000 will disappear if the team sucks. And with this kind of change for next season already disrupting this season, it’s highly probable that the team will suck.

  31. Old School says:

    If there’s a book on how to do things wrong: NYRB are writing it.

    This is ridiculous.

  32. Eugene says:

    So how is this not a distraction? This is a message to the coach that he will lose his job one way or another. It will require quite an effort for Backe to stay motivated at this point, and there is no rationale for him to stay motivated. He basically has no skin in the game anymore.

  33. slowleftarm says:

    How are the Cosmos doing this year? Oh that’s right they don’t exist.

  34. mike says:

    contract expires i believe

  35. Aguinaga says:

    Factually, nothing other than the GM change has been done yet. The reporting here is speculation until something actually happens. So logically, we should be able to take the neutral road, and just wait and see. Unfortunately, there’s absolutely nothing logical about my team’s moves… *sigh* I suspect this company’s leadership gets waaaaaaay too high on its own supply.

  36. Seriously says:

    What league are you watching. I’ve not seen anything speaking to old euro coaches being the savior of the league. Also this country is not where the RB ownership is, they are euro. RB hiring another euro has nothing to do with this country’s view of itself. The best coaches in the league are all domestic (might have been born somewhere else in the case of Sigi and I think Vermes as well, but they are American coaches no doubt).

    Your comment is retarded.

  37. Seriously says:

    Backe isn’t a good coach though, so that really woudln’t be much worry for RB. RB should be number one in the East, Backe’s mismanagement of the team is the only reason they aren’t. They should be challenging for the SS with that roster.

  38. “what’s to stop you from jumping ship now (or next week) b/c of another opening in Europe?”

    It’s called a contract. And what openings would there be in Europe, a few games into the start of their seasons? Besides – winning the Cup here will only help his chances at getting work somewhere else.

    As for how difficult it is to learn the in and outs of MLS, from a player aquisition standpoint, Soler did very well – long after Richie Williams was gone. There’s no magic to it. And they do still have Petke.

  39. No skin? He’ll be out of a job. If he wants to continue working, finishing strong here helps with that. Its MLS – not many guys go from MLS to something bigger, especially if they haven’t won much here.

    Besides, he’s a pro. He wants to win.

  40. Charles says:

    Bring in another Euro non-MLS guy ?

    At least bring in Redknapp ( ex-Sounder )

    Let me see….successful: Yallop, Vermes, Kreis, Arena, Kinnear, Schmidt…nevermind I am wasting my time and bandwidth….

  41. The Imperative Voice says:

    My look down the MLS champions list suggests no coach has ever won the MLS title without first being a US or MLS coach, assistant, or player. Even Smith and Bradley had been an assistant here and were elevated.

  42. The Imperative Voice says:

    And to elaborate on the thought, Gullit’s response to the league is telling, having a salary cap (as opposed to just a budget which you can ask to bust) is new to many managers, the salary cap plus international rules make it important to grasp the talent in depth throughout MLS to build from within the league, etc. You can come over with even more history than McAllister and the whole novel concept of the league, all the restrictions, it’s not just coaching players up, you have to be able to do it within a league system.

  43. Ceez says:

    God, I feel like switching over to the Cosmos.

    I guess this is what we fans got when Red Bull decided to buy the MetroStars — incompetent ownership.

  44. jlm says:

    bielsa is one of the most highly-regarded coaches in the world these days. no way mls coaching is on his radar…

  45. terrence says:

    McCallister was almost ousted by the Players at Villa for being arrogant!

  46. Stop drinking the KoolAid says:

    19000? Stop believing the #’s RedBull posts for attendance. If they are averaging 19K then RedBull Arena holds 50,000! That place is 1/2 to 3/4 empty every game.

  47. Scott A says:

    Local ownership now.

  48. felipe says:

    different topic, but I have always wondered – what do the NYRB supporters chant during the “Wipeout” song they always sing at the 44th minute? I have been to a game at RBA and the supporters are excellent

  49. Joamiq says:

    Metro boys ain’t nothin to f*** with

  50. Joamiq says:

    This organization is completely inept.

  51. Conrad says:

    I don’t know. Want to fire up a coach who has arguably the most talented roster in MLS but can’t get the team out of second gear? Let him know he’ll be done if he doesn’t win the cup. Leak it to a second-tier news source that doesn’t really have to abide by journalistic standards and will print blind quotes — no offense, SBI! — and consider the fire lit.

    Works for me.

  52. Conrad says:

    Just to be clear: Backe’s only way into a new job is to make a serious run for the cup. Does this hurt his feelings or make him feel unloved? Oh, yeah.

  53. inkedAG says:

    You couldn’t have said it better.

  54. inkedAG says:


  55. Alejandro 10 says:

    Marca is reporting on rumored RBNY interest in Harry Redknapp.

    link to

  56. Shmenge says:

    Light a fire under Backe?

    So he “coaches harder”???

    This is more likely to make the players who hate Backe sandbag it and wait for a new coach.

    Any one of 5 or 6 teams (including NYRB) has a legit shot at MLS Cup and to create even the slightest distraction at this delicate time in the season is pure idiocy.

  57. Conrad says:

    At this “delicate time” is a delightful phrase. You must be an orchid keeper. This is the big boys playing; there’s real money at stake. “Upsetting” the coach is how it works. How the real world works? Recommended: “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

  58. Jozy says:

    RBNY must have some master plan at blowing it..

    Following the script

  59. KillerInstinct says:

    Dont get your panty’s in a bind…that’s my opnion…you can disagree if you want, but by calling my comment retarded, is pretty childish.

  60. Frog says:


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