Claude Watch: New Club, New Crisis

Now we don’t like to kick a man when he’s down, but in Claude Anelka’s case we’ll make an exception.

A few weeks ago we reported on Claude the Fraud’s inglorious return to football with AC St Louis in North America’s NASL. Well it hasn’t got much better for poor Claude.

St Louis’ league campaign is now seven games old and the team find themselves with a record of one win, one draw and five defeats. They’re sitting on 4 points and are bottom of both the NASL Conference and USSF-D2 single table standings. Hmm, this all seems a little bit familiar!

Now we will be fair for a second. St Louis just recorded a 1-1 draw last Saturday in a very tough place to visit, Portland Timbers PGE Park. They also recorded the team’s first ever win on May 1st when they beat the equally poor Crystal Palace Baltimore 1-0, thanks to a goal in 52 seconds from Manuel Kante, the player that caused Claude to start the game mentioned in the post above with just ten men!

We were saddened by this victory of course as it was also Claude’s first ever victory as a senior football manager. We hoped he’d just have plodded along without ever winning, like his spell at the Rovers. If Baltimore hadn’t been caught so cold, he’d still be awaiting that first win. Damn them!

In this time St Louis have seen their attendance fall from 5,695 in their home opener to just 2,985 for their second home game against Baltimore. With another home game, against Tampa Bay, tomorrow, it will be interesting to see how much more it has fallen. The Club can’t afford for this to be the case.

Now to give you some background, St Louis used to be a hotbed in US football. We kept being told that it was a “great soccer city”. The current AC St Louis side is the city’s first outdoor professional men’s side for 30 years. They had the Stars for ten years in the old NASL. Hopes were high for the franchise and they had even been bidding for MLS membership before settling on the NASL. There has been talk of building a brand new, state of the art 18,500 seated new stadium if they were to get a MLS franchise.

The Club were expected to be a huge success story. The future for the growth of football clubs in the States. Now they appear to be in a very perilous position with reports coming out that they may not have enough money to see out the season and they may have to fold. Other reports suggest they will see out the season but then fold, possibly with the help of a buyout from league management.

For more details and background surrounding these problems, check out these excellent articles at Inside Minnesota Soccer and St Louis Globe-Democrat.

It’s a shame for the true football fans in the city who have desperately been waiting for a team to return. They deserve much better but clearly there hasn’t been as many of those as expected to keep the team as a viable proposition. Some are already commenting that they should have known that the writing was on the wall from the start when a man with no pedigree like Claude Anelka was appointed manager!

Claude’s position is also now rumoured to be under review and he could be set to leave the club, having failed once again to show that he has what it takes to be a football manager. I do feel for the St Louis fans though through all this. They didn’t deserve to start of their team with a man like this at the helm and if the Club does go to the wall it’s a huge blow for growing the game in the States.

We asked last time, why would someone give him another chance to fail? I’m sure the St Louis fans will soon be asking this in numbers. Of all the football managers currently looking for work around the world, why would someone give this clown a job? That’s what the St Louis fans need to be asking now.

Interesting resume Claude now has. 2004 nearly helped to ruin Raith Rovers Football Club. 2010, different country, different town, new club in crisis.

I know that St Louis’ current problems lie way deeper than Claude Anelka but it’s the manager at the helm that is ultimately responsible for bringing the crowds in through performances on the pitch. St Louis badly need to get the crowds in at the moment if they are to save their future as a club and Claude’s team don’t seem capable of giving the winning performances on the pitch that are needed.

Claude Anelka’s Magic Wand. Everything it touches turns to shit.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bxg8D0oY67c&hl=en_US&fs=1&color1=0xe1600f&color2=0xfebd01]
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There are 3 comments for this article
  1. ... at 13:53

    As a St. Louis Soccer Fan, AC St. Louis season ticket holder, and blogger for the team, I can tell you that some of the information coming out are outright lies. We don't know how much yet, but we're waiting it out. We're not too big on Anelka here, but we're thrilled to have a team and we're supporting our team as well as we can.

  2. Nick at 15:38

    As a Minnesota fan, I can't speak to the quality of any of the information regarding St. Louis's situation. I will say that it would be a shame if the club were to fold entirely, and the St. Louis fans don't deserve that. I'd much rather seem them finish out the season with their current four points – and I'd hate it if Anelka were to be fired before we in Minnesota got a chance to heckle him!

  3. GoF at 20:08

    I hope St Louis make it, as both the league and US football in general needs a market like that to succeed.

    A lot of the reports seem to be coming from respected football journalists, but hopefully it's not as bad as is being made out.

    I know gate receipts aren't as key to clubs surviving in North America as in the UK. It's more to do with rich owners.

    That said, a rich owner needs an incentive for keeping ploughing his money in. If it seems the local community aren't interested then why he should he keep putting money in?

    Decent manager = decent team on the park = better results = more people wanting to come to the game = more likelihood of owner thinking it's worth a shot and keeping putting money in (if he can).

    Maybe I'm being naive about how football works in the States, but that's how I would look at it as an outsider.

    What Anelka did to our most fierce rivals in Fife was shocking. He took them to the brink. I'd hate for him to be a major cause for you guys in St Louis. Try and force a change in management if you can.

    Good luck to you guys.

    Oh and Nick, thanks for your team having Devin Del Do. Gave us the best laugh and chants in the Whitecaps Southside all season!

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