I had a chance to catch up with Sacramento Republic FC Manager Simon Elliott following the press conference earlier this week to announce the signing of Emrah Klimenta.
In this episode, we discussed his thoughts on the state of the team, the recent struggle on the field, his expectations for Klimenta, the search to find more consistency, and more.
I also asked whether Klimenta will start on Saturday. While I didn’t get a definitive answer, I like many of you, expect to see him in the starting XI.
Simon, you’re now over half way through the season. Can you give me your overall thoughts on where the club is at?
I think we’re OK. I don’t think we’re where we want to be. We’ve made improvements, but we have a lot of work to do. I think the last few games we were flat. We didn’t pick up points at home, so we’re not there....we have work to do.
We had a good honest discussion after the game and weekend, and I think we’ll try and make some tweaks as a staff to improve. I think the players have been good about trying to learn and trying to get better every day.
We’re hopeful that we’re on the right track for this weekend and the rest of the season. Is there work to do? Absolutely.
As you mentioned, the club has struggled a little of late. Is there anything that you can point to as the contributing factor?
No. I mean, we don’t want to make a lot of excuses right? We’d played a lot of games, but so has everyone else. We had a Open Cup run and so did everyone else, so it’s just part of it. We have to do a better of job of handling it.
When you play games back-to-back, things tend to get a little bit looser in training, which is only natural. I have to take some responsibility, because last week I probably left them out on the field too long. This week, we’ve tried to tighten it up and shorten the times, but make them more intense. I think it’s had a good effect.
So if we’re going to start asking the players to examine themselves and how they can be better, then we have to do it as a staff [too], and ultimately, that starts and ends with me.
What are your expectations for Emrah now that he’s back?
I expect him to be Emrah. I expect him to contribute and perform and to play well no matter what position he in. That’s what he’s done in the past and capable of. He got a shot at a higher level, and for whatever reason, it didn’t work out. Now he’s here and [will] get after it again. He’s delighted to be here, we’re delighted to have him.
If you look around and try to find the type of player that we’re looking for, it would be him. The fact that he was available was fantastic. We haven’t specifically discussed his individual expectations for himself, but that’s a conversation I’m sure we’ll have, and I’m looking forward to it.
Is it difficult to fold in a player halfway through the season?
I don’t think so. It shouldn’t be. The culture we have...we have guys that make the effort to get to know each other, and I see no reason for a guy like Emrah, especially a player with his long history with the club.
Yes it means competition for places and that’s a good and healthy thing. It keeps everyone on their toes.
Cameron Iwasa, Villyan Bijev and Josh Cohen have really been excellent for you this season. Outside of Emrah, are you looking for another player to rise up to that level to get that consistency you need as a club to get points?
I mean, that’s a great question. For us, if we put the team first and make sure we’re doing our stuff, players will rise from that. It’s not like we expect individuals to do it by themselves. We have to create right environment and right structure on the field and that means making sure that [we’re] together.
The players that you’ve mentioned have done well, and with Emrah’s re-introduction, it will help, but particularly the other guys on the back line.
Do you expect Emrah to play Saturday?
I don’t know. He’s got a chance. As you said, we haven’t performed to our own expectations the last couple of weeks, so there’s opportunities for other guys...whether it’s Emrah or someone else that hasn’t had as much of a chance. We’ll see.
Indomitable City Soccer would like to thank Coach Elliott for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk with us. Be sure to follow the Extra Time with Elliott series all season long. You can follow William Hodges on Twitter at william_hodges.