COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Crew technical director and interim head coach Brian Bliss did not mince words Monday when discussing how he views his new opportunity to coach the team, clarifying that he is "here for the job."
Bliss (above) was passed the coaching reins to the Crew after the club decided to part ways with head coach Robert Warzycha, and the MLS veteran is well aware that the transition could be an interesting one for his players.
"I think a fresh set of eyes, a fresh voice, a fresh perspective in the locker room is always going to be a jolt to the system in order to awaken some folks," Bliss said. "I said to the players, 'there's no right and there’s no wrong way to do things, but there's different ways to do them. If I can come in and do it differently, I'm not saying it's better, but I think we can maybe turn the corner.'”
Bliss won't have much time to adjust to his new role. Columbus host the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday in a match that could be their final stand of a possible playoff push.
Bliss said that the team's failures this season could not be blamed entirely on his former teammate and colleague Warzycha, but someone had to take the fall for a season mired with injuries and disappointing results. The Crew are currently 8-13-5 this season, eight points behind the pace for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"It's very difficult to part under these circumstances, but when we take these jobs we know we're in the line of fire a lot," Bliss said. "It's easier to change one than it is 30, although some days you want to change 30. You just can't do it; that's the way it is."
Bliss led a short training and film session in his first day on the job Monday, and said that he hopes to implement his style of play over the remainder of the season.
"Over the long term process, for me it's about playing up tempo," he said. "We all want to play possession, that's the essence of the game, but there's a goal at the other end of the field you have to get to. Playing up tempo, getting the goal quicker, and hopefully recovering the ball quicker – not necessarily higher up the field, but quicker – would be three areas that I'd like to address, and hopefully we can make some ground in those areas."
While Bliss did not divulge his entire talk with the team, he said that the focus was on the changes that will be made, the goals he has for the team, and a bit of motivation.
"Some of it was about the way I like to do things in a weekly calendar, my expectations a little bit,” he said, “and a little bit of a kick in the rear end.”