Fuchs Provides Answers at Charlotte FC Press Conference
Team Captain Christian Fuchs puts some rumors to rest while looking forward
Charlotte FC captain Christian Fuchs has had many different coaches - twenty by his count, including four in one year when he played for German club FC Schalke 04, so he was the logical choice to be the first Charlotte player to address the media after the May 31 firing of coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez.
When I asked Fuchs how the team moves forward after the change, he said, “We are here to represent our colors. We are here to give everything for Charlotte … We are trying our very best to be a playoff candidate, absolutely. I think we underperformed with how we played so far, we had a couple of games we should have won in my eyes.”
Prior to the press conference, reports claimed that Ramírez avoided the locker room after defeats and had additional communications challenges with the team. Those reports were confirmed when Fuchs said at the Tuesday press conference that leadership after losses was “nonexistent.”
On the other hand, Fuchs denied another report that made waves. In the wake of last week’s announcement, The Athletic reported “one of the club’s designated players let it be known that he would refuse to play for the club after they returned from the ongoing international break if Ramirez remained head coach … the player in question was Polish striker Karol Swiderski.” That report has been contested, though not on the record by anyone from Charlotte FC until Fuchs denied it today.
“Rumors can be right or wrong. In that case they were wrong.”
In fact, if any player is a likely candidate for leading the charge to fire Ramírez, it’s hard not to think it was Fuchs himself after today’s comments.
Fuchs was not shy to level criticism during the press conference.
“For me it was overall disappointment in terms of [Ramírez] not being able to really connect with us, that was one of the main reasons,” said Fuchs. “We have a great group of players here that really give everything, that are trying hard, that really are committed to the club, and I think there was a little bit of players not buying into what he was trying to achieve, and got them a little bit frustrated or insecure.”
Unlike the front office, Fuchs not only criticized the team’s leadership but also criticized the performance of the team under Ramírez. He thinks the club can and should be doing better.
“Overall, with the team that we have, with the players we have, and the spirit that we have on the team, we clearly underperformed. I’m not sure how you can be happy with five wins in 13 games when you know [what players we have]. I think we have top players here.”
Fuchs didn’t think playing for Ramírez was easy, and reiterated that he was unavailable to the players. “Most of the time the door was shut.” As the team leader, Fuchs was frustrated by frequent changes that came from the coaching staff, and that communication wasn’t a two-way street.
Fuchs also vocalized his support for incoming coach Christian Lattanzio, mentioning his pedigree and his coaching style. He went on to mention that he saw a lot of smiles and positive non-verbal cues from the team at practice on the pitch today. As an aspiring UEFA coach, Fuchs is also excited to learn from Lattanzio as well.
Charlotte FC thinks Lattanzio will be a solution to the communication issues Fuchs mentioned; when Charlotte FC announced Lattanzio’s hiring last year, they made a point of mentioning that the (then-assistant) coach could communicate with a diverse locker room, stating “the multilingual Italian coach will play a key role in helping create a winning team with a roster that already includes players from Australia, Austria, Spain, Poland and the U.S.”
This is a clear contrast with Miguel Ángel Ramírez’s colorful commentary, which was mentioned as a serious point of contention for Charlotte FC owner David Tepper, the front office, and even some players. Fuchs mentioned “there were certain fractures between us and the coaching staff … I think this was not always the case that players could be heard.”
An interesting moment came when Fuchs was asked to detail the disagreements between players and the coaching staff. At first, Fuchs didn’t want to put his former coach on blast: “I don’t think it’s fair to speak down on someone who can’t defend himself.”
Then, the Fox added slyly, “I only have ten minutes left [in the press conference], so that’s also another issue.”
I asked Fuchs how the team goes forward from here, and if Charlotte FC is still a playoff team.
“What the team needs is confidence. Confidence especially away from home,” said Fuchs. “For us to be a playoff contender we need to get those points away from home.”
He also mentioned the coaching work Christian Lattanzio was doing in the background, including video analysis and improving player positioning behind the scenes. “We have a new coach, yes, the benefit that we have is that this coach was with us [and knows us] … I think there’s something really good happening right now. Honestly, I might or might not be able to play this weekend, but whoever is going to be out there is going to kick some ass.”
Fuchs is excited about the new intensity he believes Lattanzio is bringing to practice, and it reminded him of his English Premier League championship run with Leicester City. “What I saw today … reminded me of my time in England. That’s the way we trained there: with intensity, with lots of games, competitive setup, and players really having a go at each other. That’s what you need.”
Christian’s final comments to me were optimistic. “What the team has shown is very promising. Now let’s try to get this team together and make it a success in the way I expect it from my team.”
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There is so much here to unpack. CF for one is waay past his performance prime and that shows defensively. I also feel the team isnt the Quality CF claims. MLS is built different and a ton of credit for the results thus far go to MAR. This doesn't end well.