Paul Dalglish’s tenure as Ottawa Fury manager came to an end on Tuesday when the club announced that he had resigned his position with mutual consent from the club. Former Ottawa Fury captain and Dalglish’s assistant Julian De Guzman will take over as interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Assistant coach Jed Davies and goalkeeping coach Bruce Grobbelaar will both remain with the club in their current roles.
Dalglish was unveiled as Ottawa Fury manager in November 2015, just five days after the club lost the NASL Championship Final to the New York Cosmos. Dalglish was manager for 60 competitive matches during his time with Ottawa Fury, earning a record of 19 wins, 16 draws and 25 losses. This included 52 league matches between NASL and USL (56/156 points), as well as 8 Voyageurs Cup matches. Dalglish coached Fury to home wins over both Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC in the Voyageurs Cup.
From the very beginning it seemed as though Dalglish was swimming against the current in his role as Fury manager. In the fall of 2015 Fury had just fallen 3-2 in the NASL Championship Final and everyone knew that coach Marc Dos Santos was moving on at the end of the season. Before the dust had settled from the heartbreaking loss in New York, Dalglish was unveiled as the clubs second manager. At the time it seemed like perfect timing, as there was only five days without the club having a leader in the coaches office. Hopes were Dalglish would be coming in to swiftly ensure the club moves smoothly towards the 2016 season; things didn’t quite pan out that way.
Many players in the 2015 roster felt that with Dos Santos leaving Ottawa it was perhaps time they also sought out new clubs, meanwhile NASL organizations had taken notice of some of Ottawa Fury’s more elite players. With a lot of change going on in Ottawa and other clubs showing interest, players were enticed into handing in transfer requests when Dalglish arrived, leaving the new gaffer with a broken locker room from day one.
Unable to keep the core together, Dalglish was tasked with building a squad around the players still under contract from 2015, as well as his own signings made over the winter. The 2016 NASL season saw Fury struggle in the NASL standings, finishing last. The club announced near the end of the year they would be making a move the USL for 2017.
Hopes were high heading into this season, as Dalglish was able to build a squad completely his own during the offseason. The club struggled early on to find a rhythm, consistency and most importantly goals. While the USL results have not been great this year, Dalglish helped make Fury history when he guided Ottawa Fury to a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC in the Voyageurs Cup.
Some may be wondering why Dalglish and the club would part ways now. The club is coming off a 3-1 win over a top team last weekend, and are heading into a very important grouping of matches, playing Wednesday and Saturday in Florida and the following Wednesday in Ohio. On the other side of the things. this is perhaps the best time for the team to take a new direction.
The club indicated in their press release that Dalglish had already signified his intent to leave Fury at the end of the season, citing personal reasons, but was resigning now in mutual consent with Fury. If the club felt that Dalglish lacked the leadership to take this team (of good players mind you) to the playoffs this season, then now would be the perfect time to make changes and attempt to get the best out of the current Fury squad.
If Dalglish had lost the control or respect of the locker room over the course of the past few months, which I personally believe he had, then three matches on the road in 8 days could have spelled the end of Fury’s playoff hopes. However, the team now finds themselves in a much more positive space heading into the road trip, with trustworthy leader Julian De Guzman at the helm.
There is no denying that on paper this Fury team is good, and should be higher in the standings then they currently are. By all accounts the players/team itself are fairly tight knit and work well together, with no reports of unrest among the squad. The one thing missing is consistency; not just in results, but from a leadership perspective. Under Dalglish there was very little consistency in formations, tactics, starting elevens or substitutes, which as a player can be an extremely frustrating scenario. There are perhaps 3-4 players in the Fury squad who are automatically in the starting eleven, meaning the majority of the squad is unaware of their exact role in the team or if they’ll be playing next weekend.
Moving forward should be fairly easy for Ottawa Fury. Julian De Guzman has proven throughout his career that he is a natural born leader. Despite his inexperience in a head coaching role, he is the perfect figure to bring the players and fans together, united towards a playoff push. While his status in Canadian soccer is legendary, De Guzman is an extremely modest, hardworking individual who knows both the game and Fury inside out. Everyone will be supporting him in every way possible.
While Dalglish’s departure is a massive change for the club, assistant coach Jed Davies and goalkeeping coach Bruce Grobbelaar will both remain with the club in their current roles and have extensive experience working alongside De Guzman. If Dalglish and his coaching methods were hindering this team from reaching its full potential, then this mid-season move could pay off positively for Ottawa Fury as they seek some form and consistency.
No one is expecting Fury to change overnight simply because Dalglish has resigned, and adding three road games to the mix will likely take pressure off the players shoulders in terms of expectations, however fans will hope to see enough improvement over the remainder of the season for the club to start climbing into a playoff position.
One can only hope that this is the move required to see the Ottawa Fury team finally reach their full potential and get to a point where together they are greater than the sum of their parts. It’s a new dawn.