In a surprise move, the New York Red Bulls officially announced the appointment of Jérôme de Bontin as the team’s new General Manager. Soler will remain with the club as an internal advisor.
According to the club’s statement, de Bontin will oversee the club’s business operations while Head of Global Soccer for Red Bull, Gérard Houllier will oversee the sporting aspects of the team. The change would likely give Houllier the reigns and power of the General Manager’s position while granting de Bontin the responsibilities once held by former team President, Chris Heck.
De Bontin is the former President of French Club AS Monaco, having served in the position from 2008-’09. He has a connection with U.S. Soccer through his work with the USSF task force on player development. Houllier, meanwhile, is a career French football manager who perhaps is best known as the former coach for Liverpool from 1998-2004.
The move ends Soler’s near three year reign as Red Bulls General Manager and comes at a conspicuous time for the New York who are in the final throes of plotting their playoff course.
Equally perplexing are the reasons for the firing in general. Soler has received praise from pundits and fans alike who have given him high marks for navigating the murky waters of Major League Soccer’s salary cap system. From his various trades that brought in players like Heath Pearce and Sebastian Le Toux, his pick-up of the long sought after Luis Robles through the allocation draft, signing Tim Cahill as the club’s third designated player and even earning compensation on discovery claims for players like Alessandro Nesta and Quincy Amerikwa, Soler enjoyed a banner year.
Likely, considering the timing and circumstances surrounding the deal, this was a broader move by the Red Bull organization and it’s new head Houllier to make their mark on the company’s flagship soccer club.
The club has yet to give an official statement on the reasoning behind the move.