Chicago Fire Sack Veljko Paunovic, Begin Managerial Search


veljko paunovic

The Chicago Fire took another major step in their reboot/revamp/rebuild as they will now be looking for a new manager. According to multiple outlets, Veljko Paunovic has now been sacked. This news is extremely surprising, given how

a.) team General Manager Nelson Rodriguez told all of us at his final media roundtable last month that Pauno would be back and

b.) new Owner Joe Mansueto seemingly gave both Paunovic and Rodriguez a public vote of confidence.

veljko paunovic

Although Mansueto did say at the time that he would do a further evaluation of the whole organization, including the front office and coaching staff. With that in mind, Rodriguez’s job status could be insecure.

There were questions about Paunovic’s job security last off-season, and some were surprised that he returned for 2019. Even with the expanded format of the MLS Cup playoffs, he was unable to guide one of the league’s highest paid teams to the postseason and his tenure concludes with just one playoff berth and no postseason victories.

He went 41-58-37 over the course of his four seasons in Bridgeview. It was thought that he could be relived of duty in midseason, when a run of terrible results, a few of which came against the worst teams in Major League Soccer, torpedoed the club’s playoff chances.

However, it’s a new day with #CF97 as they now move back into the city (Soldier Field), and must totally rebuild the player roster.

Their three most well-known players, and many would argue the three best overall, have all moved on. Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger retired, fellow midfielder Dax McCarty was traded to expansion Nashville and forward/primary goal scorer Nemanja Nikolic has left. You could call this all a very fluid situation.

Later this morning, the club sent out a press release, which included the following statement, attributed to Rodriguez:

“Four years ago, Pauno and the staff accepted a challenge to help establish a football culture at the Fire. Their efforts helped revitalize the Club with a competitive spirit and a dedication to always putting football first. Pauno and his staff were relentless in their devotion to the Club and for that we are immeasurably thankful.”

The release also said that the following members of Paunovi?’s staff have been dismissed, but will have the opportunity to be retained by the next manager: Assistant Coaches Marko Mitrovi? and Eric Gehrig, Goalkeeper Coach Aleksandar Sari?, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Raphael Fevre, Director of Performance Petar Mil?anovi?, Video Analyst Nenad Babi?, Equipment Manager Brian Sauer, Assistant Equipment Manager Juan Arreola, Head Athletic Trainer Reade Whitney, Assistant Athletic Trainer Hillary Bell and Massage Therapist Steven Burrows.

Eddie Rock, Senior Director of Soccer Operations, and Alex Boler, Senior Manager of Team Operations, will stay on.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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