I'll admit up front that I'm not a charter member of the Piotr Nowak fan club.
Put another way, there've been times that I wished he'd get run over by a bus which then backed up a couple of times just to make sure the job got done right.
Now of course most of that had to do with the fact that he played for or coached the two vilest, most foul and nefarious bands of miscreants ever to darken an MLS stadium: the Chicago Fire and DC United.
Which opinion in turn was mostly due do to the fact that said outfits made long, glorious careers out of beating snot out of my favorite team and Nowak was one of the primary instigators of the pain.
If he'd only have worked for crummier teams, I'm quite certain I'd be a big fan.
Early this year I began one of those "Never got finished" posts which clutter the files and torture the brains of bloggers of all stripes which began with what I thought - at the time - was a clever takeoff on those "Post Draft Grade Card" pieces that everybody else does.
Instead of rating callow, unwhiskered college kids - an ultimately fruitless and meaningless exercise if ever there was one (give me four years and I'll grade the hell out of your draft, but the next day? Pshaw, says I) - I figured I'd pretend there had been an MLS Coaching Draft consisting of the seven teams who "selected" new head guys for the 2010 season.
(Cute, right? No? Yeah, you're right)
So of course Philadelphia, being the expansion team, got the first pick and they naturally ended up with the man everybody else would have loved to have, the consensus number one choice, Piotr Nowak, giving them an A for the draft.
(Toronto came in second with a solid B+ performance after the selection of Preki, a guy who might have gone #1 without Nowak on the board. Etc. etc. until it even bored me.)
(Although, if you don't mind me wearing out the parentheticals, my "2011 Draft Preview" featured Bob Bradley "if he chooses to come out" as the clear #1 pick, which would make it four years in a row that the top selection in the draft was a former MLS Cup winner, with only Nowaks' criminally inexcusable loss to Zippy the Pinhead in the 2002 Coach of the Year contest separating him from the laurels of the Yallop-Schmid-Bradley continuem).
Which brings me to yesterday when I would have been forced to upgrade Philadelphias' A to an A+ along with a Phi Beta Kappa key and one of those really cool stoles that the smart people get to wear at graduations where the rest of us are simplly breathing sighs of relief that we're getting a piece of paper.
In an interview with THE INQUIRER Nowak showed why he's - well, he's Nowak:
Already ticked off about his team's 2-0 loss in a scrimmage Sunday against FC Dallas, Union team manager Peter Nowak yesterday blasted what he called the excessive whining over referees' calls, a problem he said would turn MLS into a "freak show."
My only argument would be that he didn't use the past ense there; the whole "gather aound the referee and scream at him over every last whistle" routine turned MLS into an embarassment years ago, although he may be referring to the fact that it seems to get worse every year. I swear, one of these days the official will blow the whistle for the opening kick and three guys are going to get up inhis face, just out of habit.
Nowak wasn't done:
(He) said he despises seeing not only opposing coaches, but players, and even equipment managers and other team employees complaining about one call after another.
As are we all.
"If this happens with our bench, every single member who complains will have a big problem with me, and have consequences," Nowak said.
Of course what's truly unfortunate is that we're hearing this speech from a coach when the person we'd LIKE to hear it from is "Cohiba Don". That garbage has been going on and on and getting worse and worse for years and despite FIFA's "Respect" initiative and the carping of the USSF Referee Administrators demanding that it be punished, absolutely nothing happens.
If Nowak means it - and he's not a man given to frivolous chatter - then I'll have a very hard time not finally forgiving him for all the past pain, agony and sleepless nights.
Wouldn't it be great to see at least one team in the league that behaves with some class and dignity and just goes about their business out there?
Wouldn't it be even greater if this sort of thing caught on elsewhere?