[MLS SPOTLIGHT]The first question New York Red Bulls general manager Jerome de Bontinmust address is, why can't the MLS club draw better in the nation's largest metropolitan area? The first on-the-field issue de Bontin and fellow Frenchman Gerard Houllier, who was brought in to run the club's soccer affairs, will face will be to decide what to do with third-year coach Hans Backe, whose contract expires at the end of the season. The Swede seems to think he'll be returning home in December.
"My contract runs out and I have not heard anything so I will be moving home in December," Backe told the Swedish daily Expressen. "There has been a reorganization which brought in Gerard Houllier and Jerome de Bontin and Erik Solerhas been fired."
It was Soler who brought Backe to MLS in January 2010.
The Red Bulls were 15-9-8 and 10-8-16 in Backe's first two seasons but never made it past the conference semifinals. They are 15-9-8 in 2012 but have still not yet clinched a playoff berth with two games to play.
Despite MLS's most expensive lineup -- led by Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez -- New York has been the image of a team in disarray for much of the Soler-Backe era.
The name often mentioned as a possible Backe replacement is Gary McAllister. The former Scottish international was an assistant under Houllier at Liverpool and at Aston Villa, where he was interim manager when Houllier, who has a history cardiac problems, became ill.