CHESTER, Pa. – Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth sat in his office Tuesday afternoon, waiting to jump on his weekly conference call with team owner Jay Sugarman.
He’s aware that, if the Union don’t start winning, those calls could soon end with something he won’t want to hear.
“We’re going to have to get out of this hole we dug, one step at a time,” Hackworth told MLSsoccer.com on the heels of Saturday's 2-1 road loss against the Seattle Sounders. “But I know there’s only so much time to have that opportunity.”
That the Union (1-4-5) have won just once through their first 10 games is certainly a surprise to Hackworth, who assembled a team many believe to be the most talented in franchise history.
And even as the pressure mounts following each disappointing result, the Union manager is remaining hopeful he will right the ship.
But he knows he’s on the hot seat.
“The reality is that it’s part of being in this job,” Hackworth said. “There’s always that pressure. Now it just gets ratcheted up. I still believe our team can be a team that can do great things this year. We’re going to have to do that in a different fashion than all of us would like.”
While the Union have an uphill climb to get into the playoff picture, Hackworth doesn’t think he needs to make drastic changes with two-thirds of the season left. And he naturally hopes drastic changes aren’t made at his expense.
“I’m not going to change too much,” Hackworth said. “You look at coaches in other sports, coaches in the world of football, and when you get to be desperate, that’s when you really make mistakes. I hope we never get to a point of desperation.
"That’s not for me to decide one way or another. So I’m going to go about my job to the best of my ability and try to have the team prepared. At the end of the day, that’s all I can do. I’ve got to control what I can control.”
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The Union manager can also feel the anger and frustration from Philly fans as the team is coming off two straight playoff-less years and has yet to win a postseason game. But that’s also something he’s trying his best to block out.
“You definitely feel the pressure, but I think it’s how you manage the pressure,” he said. “I think it’s really important in a position like mine that you’re not letting that affect how you do your job. I trust my ability to coach, I trust my ability to manage people and I trust the experiences I had.
“I’ve had times like this before and I’m going to have times like this in the future, so here’s how I manage it and here’s how I get through it. I know that the minute I focus on the pressure, that’s not good for me. It takes away from doing what my actual job is.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.