Newendorp Discusses Eddies Turnover Ahead of 2021
Canadian Premier League FC Edmonton is in for sizeable amount of change, and that’s to be expected for a side that finished dead last and winless at The Island Games.
The club’s eighth-place finish saw former head coach Jeff Paulus step down after the bubble tournament concluded, with the Eddies recently announcing Eric Newendorp as the new Club President and General Manager. While Paulus remains with the club in an interim role for now, a transitional period has already begun within the club.
The obvious number one priority for Newendorp is, of course, to secure a new head coach for the team. Two weeks ago he teased that a new head coach announcement would be coming soon, with the Eddies boss revealing that while some positive progress has been made, this announcement won’t be releasing as quickly as Newendorp had originally hoped. That being said, the timeline for the new club gaffer announcement is still in the ‘near future’.
Still, the fact that the club is waiting for the head coach announcement before releasing season membership options implies that the new hire will come with a pedigree that ought to prove exciting to fans of the CPL side.
One of the grim realities of a head coach turnover is that the technical staff are also impacted. While how much of a change the new club gaffer brings is up to them, Newendorp disclosed that none of the current technical staff were on guaranteed contracts for 2021.
Everybody who’s on staff now is still under contract as part of Jeff’s staff. They understand this as well. We’ve had these conversations, as challenging and difficult as they can be, they all understand that it’s part of the industry and part of the way things go, and they’re well-aware of the fact that they may or may not still be with the club here in a few months.Eric Newendorp
Last week the new Club President revealed that he’s seeking out a club gaffer who already has professional head coach experience, but did make note that some highly-touted assistant coaches and candidates from outside of the professional game had approached them as well. Most of them, he said, all had their own people that they wanted to bring with them to FC Edmonton, suggesting that technical staff turnover was more likely than not.
While there exists a scenario where every single member of the technical staff is replaced, Newendorp expects that the new gaffer will use a mix of existing and new staff members upon signing with the club.
They can all be brand new, or it can be a mix of old and new, or it can be a new head coach and everybody else is still in place – any combination of that. My gut is that it’s going to more of the middle position which is going to be a mix of new and old.Eric Newendorp
Former Eddies man Colin Miller disclosed that while he missed the professional game he would be an unlikely hire, while highly-touted Cape Breton Capers head coach Deano Morley revealed he had not been approached despite his name being linked to the club.
Once the new head coach is installed, the next step will be building the 2021 FC Edmonton roster based around their vision. Newendorp has already begun the process of retaining a select number of the Eddies roster, the first of which was revealed to be highly-touted youngster Chance Carter. The club is hoping to re-sign a few additional players in the upcoming week or so, with club announcements due to follow.
As time ticks on, however, players and their agents who are now out-of-contract can freely seek competitive offers. Much like York9 FC’s Angus McNab, Newendorp had stated that he wouldn’t begrudge any player for pursing more compensation elsewhere, especially given that some may want more news on the new head coach hire before committing.
Newendorp says he’s been up front with players regarding the financial realities of a salary cap league as he establishes a platform of recruitments for the new head coach to build from.
I’m pretty up front in that I’m doing the same [in finding the best value for the club], which is that it has sense for what we’re trying to do. You’ll win some and you’ll lose some. I don’t mean to sound flippant, but it’s just the way it goes. There are guys that we’ve targeted that we want that we’ll make offers to that we’ll get, and some we won’t.Eric Newendorp
As a whole, Newendorp expects that fans arriving to Clarke Stadium next year will see a lot of fresh faces. While some continuity will help the club, by and large it appears that significant change is needed in the Eddies locker room, and the new Club President didn’t shy away from the subject.
The bottom line is that if we were great in the past or even last year, we wouldn’t be having this discussion about who the new head coach is, or the technical staff, or probably the majority of the players. I think most fans understand, from a very basic level, that if you finish dead last in your league that they probably want and expect to see a bunch of new people coming in here.Eric Newendorp
Similiarly to the technical staff, he expects that the 2021 Eddies roster will include some familiar faces, but believes fans will see a lot of new ones in the lineup, too. He isn’t sure what that ratio will ultimately be, as that really depends on the new head coach and who he believes is talented enough to stay.
While the general sentiment from the Eddies camp has been that a lot of hard work went into The Island Games despite the result, Newendorp recognizes the issue isn’t strictly about player talent: he’ll leave it up to the head coach to truly judge which players meet the talent and technical requirements of the club, and Newendorp will do the rest:
Then, all those other factors have to come into play: are they the right fit, is it the position we want, are they going to represent this club and the direction we want to go, are they a cultural fit, are they a character fit, are they a financial fit, all those other factors that come into play. I’m not going to make the determination whether Player X is a good enough player, but if you just look at the results from last year and try to figure out why we didn’t win any games, you have to ask those questions. Maybe we just weren’t good enough talent wise, or if we were good enough talent wise and we didn’t win, regardless both of those things are bad and they have to be fixed. That’s what we’re working on.Eric Newendorp
Having held analytics-based roles in the past across multiple sports, Newendorp is no stranger to how crunching the numbers can be used as a tool both on the pitch and off. While he says the club will absolutely be using analytics in all corners of its business, it won’t be sole driving factor of player signings and club decisions:
I am all about the data. As a tool, not as the oracle. That will be applied in all aspects of the business. The soccer part of it is the core business, so analytics will be employed for certain. Just like they will on the business side of things. However, all of that is to help us make better informed decisions, not make those decisions for you.Eric Newendorp
The Oklahoma-born Club President is heavily involved in club operations off the pitch too, recently revealing some new plans to revive Clarke Stadium and bring in better attendance numbers. Last year the club had the second-lowest average audience out of the founding seven CPL sides, and that’s something that a combination of atmospheric improvements and better performances will help improve.
With Newendorp having finished his quarantine period, the Club President and General Manager has his hands full as he helps reinvigorate an Eddies side that, at least in terms of the rankings, has nowhere to go but up. Within the next five years, he wants to see the side win at least one North Star Shield, and he’s committed for the long haul.
While change won’t come in a day, Newendorp is ready simultaneously work on the broader, sweeping changes and fine tune the little touches, too. While whether this is successful will require a long term view, the next campaign will be an interesting watch for Canadian soccer fans.