Paunovic has an active Twitter account and has seen the messages directed his way. His request Sunday was for Fire fans to continue to trust him. He said the decision to trade Shipp wasn’t made lightly, that it was one he and Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez believed was best for Shipp and the club.
“It was a very, very difficult decision for us,” Paunovic said. “Harry is a fantastic kid. We know how difficult this is for everyone. But again, we think it’s important and in this case for the team and Harry, too. We can’t guarantee Harry he will play and have the role that he’s expecting.
“At this point, we had the situation where he had to decide. We believe Montreal can provide him with everything for him in order to be happy and play and enjoy soccer. It was the place for all parts was the best solution. Right now what we have is the situation that we have opened up that spot. Everybody has to earn it.”
Paunovic thought decisions like Saturday’s were what separated the great coaches from everyone else. Ultimately, it’s about what he believes is best for the team.
“Always it’s difficult, but if you’re not ready, and what I always preach and what I was told from my father and my mentors was if you’re not ready as a coach to make difficult decisions, decisions that you think are worth it and you’re not ready to lose games and you don’t know how to handle it, this is not a job for you,” Paunovic said. “I understand that perfectly. I think I’m ready. Sometimes some decisions aren’t popular from the point of view from the people, but sometimes they’re necessary. Sometimes it’s because the project needs it and the team needs it.”
Paunovic also realized whatever goodwill he may have created in the first few months could have been thrown out the door with Saturday’s trade. He’s OK with that. He just wants the fans to know that their end goal remains his, too.
“What I’m finding so far that the people are very passionate,” Paunovic said. “They want to win. They want a change. They want to see a different energy, different approach, style of play. Everything mixed with some sort of frustration. But what I’ve found in this couple of months working with the Fire is a hope. I saw the people are hopeful and willing to give that support, patience.
“Again, I understand after this decision we made it may a little bit change that. But I saw the people, they are really eager to deliver the same amount of energy, passion and trust, and we are not going to play with that. Again, some decisions are difficult, but that’s because we really want this year and the years to come to be different for them in the point of view to make all of our fans happy, and that’s what I’m feeling they are looking for and expecting.”