Sporting director Zoran Krneta didn’t go deeper than to say “we felt a change was needed” during a press conference in which he elected to “no comment” most of the questions, either literally or indirectly. There had been some reporting that dug into fissures behind the scenes that helped explain the decision, which on the surface confused many around the league considering Charlotte picked up 16 points from their expansion season's first 14 games (5W-8L-1D record). There was not much from the club officially on the decision.
On Tuesday, that changed.
Veteran defender Christian Fuchs fielded questions for 27 minutes during a virtual press conference, almost all of which were about last week’s coaching change. He elected not to use the "no comment" option much, if at all.
“If you go to work and you love to go, that means something is going right,” Fuchs said. “I don’t want to say this has not been the case [under Ramirez], but for most parts, it was not the case.”
The main point of contention, in the captain's eyes, was a lack of common ground between the coaching staff and players.
“For me, it was an overall disappointment in terms of [Ramirez] not being able to really connect with us,” Fuchs said.
“There were certain fractures between the coaching staff and players,” the former Austrian international later added.
"It was discouraging"
That aligns with what The Athletic, MLSsoccer.com, 90min.com and TopBin90.com have reported since the firing. Like any other locker room, that doesn't mean the feeling was universal. A number of players showed up at Ramirez's home in support after his dismissal and others had positive feelings about Ramirez as well.
In terms of the club's standing, Fuchs said he believes Charlotte FC are actually underperforming rather than overperforming, the latter of which is the more popular narrative. That jives with a number of sources at Charlotte who feel similarly, and that Ramirez had a big hand in setting the low expectations publicly.
“My relationship [with Ramirez] was, erm, an interesting one,” Fuchs said. “It was not easy. … The issue is when you tried to address a problem, most of the times, the door was shut. And that didn’t feel good. … It was discouraging.”
Fuchs, 36, is just one year younger than Ramirez and the most experienced player at Charlotte FC. His European career included over 180 Bundesliga games and a key role in Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title in 2015-16.
“I did not get the sense of Miguel willing to address [the players’] concerns,” Fuchs added. “He wanted to brush them off and not deal with them. At some point, I just kept those conversations to myself.”
While Ramirez was young for a typical manager at 37 years old, he was far from inexperienced. He had worked with Qatar's youth nationals teams, and made his name by winning the Copa Sudamericana with Ecuador's Independiente del Valle before logging under a season with Brazilian giants Internacional.
“I don’t think it’s fair to speak down on somebody who cannot defend himself,” Fuchs said, before hinting that his list of stories and grievances was long: “And going into details is not fair, because I only have 10 minutes left [in the interview]."
In addition to managing relationships, Fuchs had concerns about Ramirez’s tactics and training.
Ramirez arrived with the expectation of a complex game model, which featured high-energy, attacking soccer. Fuchs noted in practice, that it wasn't what he was first told in initial meetings with Ramirez. He also said the tactics changed often game-to-game while adding the team seldom analyzed matches after they were played, which is routine for most professional teams.
“It’s so important with a young group to address the players,” Fuchs said. “To use a loss in your benefit, to have postmatch analysis. What did we do well, what did we not do well. That’s how you improve a team. That’s just the process. That was nonexistent [under Ramirez]. I’m looking forward to more of that now.”
Looking forward is something Fuchs often tried to do at the press conference, spinning answers towards the excitement of working under interim head coach Christian Lattanzio, Ramirez's former assistant.
Lattanzio also comes with a wealth of experience. He worked on Roberto Mancini’s staff when the Italian manager was at Manchester City, where they won the Premier League, as well as with Patrick Vieira at NYCFC and Ligue 1's Nice. He turned down the opportunity to join Vieira’s staff at Crystal Palace to join Charlotte.
“We’re looking forward now to what’s coming next,” Fuchs said. “We have a great coach, Christian Lattanzio has great experience. He won the Premier League with Mancini. Is there anything else I need to add?”
At training this week, Fuchs has noticed much more smiling and intensity.
“There’s something really good happening right now,” Fuchs said. “Honestly, whoever is going to be out there this weekend is going to kick some ass.”
Charlotte host the New York Red Bulls on Saturday (3 pm ET | ABC, ESPN Deportes), their first game of the Lattanzio era. It’s a new beginning after just 14 matches for MLS’s newest club.