I first noticed it near the end of last season. The hashtag #HeathOut began to pop up in my Twitter feeds. It initially didn’t reappear at the start of this season, but now it is fair to say that a legitimate chunk of the Minnesota United fanbase feels that manager Adrian Heath is unsuitable to continue in charge.
I’ve got one word for those insatiable folks: Wait.
The Loons have played 8 games out of 34.. That’s barely a fifth of the way through the season. Five of those games have been away from home, including games in the ever-formidable grounds that are Orlando City Stadium, Providence Park, and CenturyLink Field.
To keep things simple, it’s too early to #PANIC. I’d hope that Heath has at least until the end of the season before he is really sitting on a hot seat, but the hour of judgement surely won’t arrive until the conclusion of United’s homestand.
Let me be clear, though, that Heath doesn’t have an automatic get-out-of-jail-free card for the rest of the campaign. There are certain things that need to happen at some point, sooner rather than later:
Can I get another striker?
Heading into this year, I never would’ve thought that forward would be a position of concern. Abu Danladi and Christian Ramirez looked set to stage a fantastic competition for a starting spot while Mason Toye would be able to sit back and learn. Instead, Danladi and Ramirez have both struggled with injuries and, well, scoring. Toye has received plenty of match action already, which isn’t bad, but points to the poor performances of those ahead of him on the depth chart.
I don’t blame Inchy for the bad showings of Danladi and Ramirez. To his credit, he’s not been afraid to change it up in regards to the two. But the one thing that I want to see is a two-striker formation. Danladi and Ramirez have contrasting but complementing styles; one is speedy and good off of the break while the other is more suited to hold-up play. Even Darwin Quintero would fit in as a deeper-lying forward.
The one caveat to this idea is that there need to be two healthy strikers to make this work, and that isn’t really the case right now. But at some point, it can’t hurt to try, right?
Back Line Boogie
You’d be forgiven if you assumed that Vadim Demidov cursed the Loons’ defenders to play sloppily whenever possible. Even Francisco Calvo has fallen under his spell. There are a few possibilities that I’d like to suggest here:
Calvo actually plays as a wingback with the Costa Rica national team, and does very well on the flanks. He got a little action at left-back near the end of last season and showed that he was capable. So instead of forcing Jerome Thiesson to play on his less-comfortable side of the pitch, why not bump Calvo out?
Of course, it would be preferable if Alexi Gomez could just claim the starting left-back role.
I don’t necessarily think he’s a huge upgrade, but seeing Brent Kallman in the lineup instead of Michael Boxall on occasion wouldn’t hurt. Or even dropping Calvo, who hasn’t been playing to anywhere near his usual standard, might not be bad idea...
I’m nowhere near the point of thinking that Adrian Heath’s time is up with Minnesota United. That said, the couple of ideas brought up above certainly wouldn’t hurt to try. At the end of the day, I trust the gaffer’s judgement to make the best decisions for the team and to put the best possible starting lineup out on the pitch.
We’re not Arsenal, so we can be happy with trying to crack the top six for now.