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Mike Petke and me: An awkward interview

What did new head coach Mike Petke want fans to know on the day his hiring was announced? Did I make a fool of myself in my first interview? Some questions.

DC United v New York Red Bulls Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Real Salt Lake held a teleconference featuring Mike Petke for media who were not able to attend his announcement at Rio Tinto earlier in the day. Having been at work during the announcement I thought that I would jump on the call and listen to the questions the national media had for the newly minted head coach.

The key there is, “listen to the questions the national media had”. When the press conference started, much to my surprise, Trey Fitz-Gerald thanked me for joining, stating that I was the only person on the line, and that the floor was mine for questions.

I immediately started to sweat.

In the end it turned out to be a decent conversation with less rambling than I thought I would do. Go me.

As I was scrambling to come up with questions to ask, I was able to gather my thoughts enough to focus in on a few specific things.

Question: What’s next? Through the press conference you mentioned that it was little things that you saw that needed changes, what’s the first step?

Petke: Get here, get entrenched, fix things that I think can be improved. It’s about laying out a plan, this is how we are going to do it, and that impacts how we are going to play. I’m not teaching Kyle Beckerman how to open up and play the ball wide right. I’m not teaching Nick (Rimando) how to stop a penalty kick. I’m laying out to them, this is the style we want to play.

Question: Along those same lines, you mentioned you wouldn’t talk about tactics or formation changes just yet but is everything on the table or do you feel like RSL is on a certain path that you must continue to go down?

Petke: Everything is on the board - having said that, I don’t see- when I watch the way we have played thus far. I honestly see a few tweaks that could make us a lot better. I see things here that in this formation could make us a lot better.

Formation changes in the course of the game. It’s more important to lay out the style that you want the team to play and holding them accountable to that.

Question: To that, the accountability, how do you hold a team with some very experienced veterans, some young players with a few years under their belts, and some very young rookies, how do you hold them accountable to the style or vision that you set out for them?

Petke: I, well, it’s pretty simple. If we tell them that we expect certain things from them and they aren’t doing them in practice leading up to the game on the weekend, well the have to be held accountable to that.

Question: What do you want the fans to understand as you take over?

Petke: That this is a process. It’s not going to change over night. I’ve always been impressed by the fans here in Salt Lake. They’re knowledgable and passionate and that’s very important to understand that this change will be a process.

Over all, I’ve been really impressed by Petke today. Full disclosure, I didn’t want him to be the hire as recently as Monday night. All of that changed today. Through the announcement at the stadium and the very brief conversation that I was lucky enough to have with him this afternoon he seems to check all the boxes that I wanted the new coach to check. In part that’s why I didn’t want him to be the hire (odd, I know) and why I wanted him to stay on at Monarchs. His passion, clout, tactical knowledge, and desire to prove himself set him apart from other rumored candidates. While there is much that is yet to be seen, I have gone from somewhat pessimistic to optimistically hopeful within the span of 6 hours. Something to be said about that.