RBNY Optimist: Being Right About Being Wrong

rbnyoptimistBY RBNY OPTIMIST
Staff Writer

It’s been an interesting week here in RBNY-land…quite a come-down from the three game smorgasbord of soccer that we were treated to last week. And a very tasty smorgasbord it was, as our beloved Red and White were able to escape with six points from three matches, even though they were facing an away match at their biggest rival, and a home match against arguably one of the best sides in MLS (the less said about the prospects of the poor New England Revolution, the better).

Overall, a very encouraging span of 7 days… but then followed by an exceedingly normal week, Red Bulls News-wise.  A trialist here, a suspension there. A feel-good story about supporters coming together to honor a city under siege. And TH14 sitting comfortably atop the Castrol Index for the week, to top it all off (damn, he IS good, isn’t he? I mean, do you really appreciate it? Do you stop and think about, and really, really appreciate it??).

One piece of news slipped by almost unnoticed, however, and I think it’s the most optimistic news we heard all week. In the course of one of his regular powwows with the men and woman of the press, Mike Petke (COACH PETKE!!! I still can’t believe it…) acknowledged that his views about strategy and tactics have changed since he took over at the start of pre-season. Changed his mind… ho-hum. Yeah, just did a bit of a turnaround. Nothing to see here; return to your homes….

WAIT. Wait just a second. A professional sports coach admitting that he had it wrong to start? A coach in a major North American sports league saying publicly that he has changed something so foundational, so basic, so far reaching that it means his team is playing differently than when he first pronounced his overall strategy?

This can’t be. Doesn’t everyone know that this is a sign of weakness? In today’s sports environment, you are supposed to be right the first time. And if you are not right the first time, you are supposed to make sure everyone knows that you were either misquoted, or misunderstood early on and that this was your plan all along. You can’t be just changing your mind all willy-nilly like this. What a joke! This guy does not know what he is doing…

But, of course, he does. This is what is so lovely about Mike Petke. This guy doesn’t have an inauthentic bone in his entire body.

When he said, at the start of pre-season, that the team would be playing an aggressive 4-3-3, with flowing, changeable roles across the experienced veterans up front, he truly meant it. At that point in time, he thought he had the horses — he had the talent and experience up front — to make it work. And he very well may have, but what about the back? Did he have the defensive four necessary to shut down opposition for 90 minutes without explicit protection from a strong defensive midfield in front of them?

Based on the results of the first month, even the most casual fan would have to say, “No.” Here’s where I get encouraged, though, and you should, too. Where many veteran coaches would stick to their guns and say, “This is what works, and I will stay the course,” Mike Petke has taken a look at his results and has the confidence, initiative and intelligence to CHANGE HIS MIND.

Too many times, we are fooled by those who feign confidence. How many times do you see someone that seems so set in their ways — so sure of themselves — that they must be right. “At least he had the courage of his convictions,” we say. I’m impressed with this change of course by our Coach. He’s smart enough to recognize when things are not going right, and he’s making the mid-course corrections that will get us to where we want to be.

Check out this article from software entrepreneur Jason Fried about the best advice he ever got from Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. According to Bezos, people who are right a lot of the time are people who often change their minds. And people who are often wrong? Those that are obsessed with only one point of view.

So, don’t interpret this shift as confusion, ignorance, or — worst of all — weakness. Petke knows he got it wrong, and that’s why he’s got it right.

  • @petkemike: the real deal, and that’s why we love him. #optimismrules @RBNYOptimist http://t.co/Th22x4jUrK via @EmpireOfSoccer

  • Greg

    This is just what us RBNY supporters need. Need to know my sudden mood swings are backed up. I hate this team. I love this team. No, I really hate this team. Damn you, I love this friggin team. Aaaaahhhh