The embattled Union manager received more undue attention over the weekend after reports linked him with Scottish Premier League side Hearts.
Philadelphia manager Peter Nowak has encountered trouble at seemingly every turn this year, but even he couldn't have expected his latest kerfuffle to start with a Saturday morning report out of Edinburgh.
In a dispatch discussing the latest and greatest candidates in the running for the poisoned chalice better known as the Hearts managerial job, the Edinburgh Evening News mentioned Nowak as one of two foreign-based options for the post. Nowak helpfully submitted a CV to aid the club in its search and put his name into the mix, according to the report.
One minor problem: Nowak, at least for the moment, still has a gig in Chester and probably shouldn't have his name linked to vacancies while his side languishes near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Nowak certainly understood the potentially significant ramifications of the situation and and quickly batted down the report. He even dubbed it “absolutely false” when tracked down by Philadelphia Daily News scribe Kerith Gabriel and Washington Post writer Steven Goff over the weekend.
Truth or fiction of the article and the subsequent denial aside, this relatively minor skirmish comes at a time when Nowak and the Union simply can't afford to cope with any distractions from the significant task at hand or raise any questions about the former Poland international's ability to handle a laundry list of problems he has largely created for himself.
Goodwill exists in short supply among the Sons of Ben these days as Nowak continues to systematically dismantle the first playoff team in franchise history and swap in new players without replicating the same success. Danny Mwanga's recent departure to Portland continued the rampant turnover at PPL Park this season. Many of the familiar faces from last year's exploits – Danny Califf and Sébastien Le Toux most notably, but a raft of others as well – now ply their trade elsewhere. Some regulars still remain, but the fabric of the side has changed significantly in the space of 12 months.
All of the chopping and changing has prompted a significant downturn in results. Philadelphia currently ranks dead last in the non-Toronto FC portion of the Eastern Conference. Then again, that particular moniker isn't fair to the Reds since they defeated the Union for their first win in 10 league attempts this season.
The particularly egregious setback at BMO Field highlights the depths of the problems at the moment. Philadelphia currently ranks second from bottom in points collected (eight in 11 matches from a 2-7-2 mark) and joint bottom with TFC in goals scored (eight, but it hardly feels like that many). Several turgid displays over the course of the campaign to date suggest those marks did not happen by chance.
(Note: Particular statistics aren't kept on the number of disgruntled comments made by traded players over the course of the season, but the Union probably merits a spot at or near the top of the unenviable table in that department. It's fair to suggest a few former players won't exchange holiday cards with Nowak this year. Mwanga, for the record, didn't go out of his way to have a swipe at Nowak on his way back home as part of the deal to bring Jorge Perlaza to PPL Park last week. That deal, by the way, represents a swap of talented, under-performing strikers desperately in need of new environs.)
Nowak opened the door to significant criticism when he decided to pivot away from the foundation of the squad that achieved success last season. Some of the sound reasons behind those moves (acquiring loads of allocation money and shedding onerous contracts previously handed to Califf and Mwanga, for starters) have not received their proper due credit. Style points tend to fritter away when larger concerns about the direction of the team, the quality of the replacements acquired to plug the gaps left by the departing stars and the poor showings on the field take precedence.
In the end, the results usually do not lie. Nowak cannot afford to have his named linked with Hearts, Hibs, Edinburgh City, Edinburgh University or any other club located within the Scottish capital given the Union's current state of disrepair. At some point, these relatively minor incidents – even if, as Nowak insists, this particular bit is none of his doing – will combine with the far larger ones to create a scenario in which the distribution of a CV becomes mandatory rather than aspirational.
Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSsoccer.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter by clicking here.
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