'I'm not a quitter': FC Edmonton head coach clarifies comments after loss
EDMONTON -- It’s not the kind of comment we’re used to hearing, as one soccer pundit quickly pointed out.
“It’s very rare you hear a head coach say mid-tournament that perhaps the group needs another voice," said Gareth Wheeler, who hosts coverage of the Canadian Premier League’s Island Games on OneSoccer.
That was the immediate reaction to FC Edmonton Head Coach Jeff Paulus’ comments on Saturday, Aug. 29 after his club lost a fourth match of the CPL Island games in Prince Edward Island. The Eddies fell 2-1 to Winnipeg’s Valour FC, which left the club at the bottom of the standings with just a single point.
The timing of Paulus’ comment caught most people off-guard with FCE all but mathematically eliminated, but still facing two more games to close out the round robin.
“I like this group of players we have, so you know it starts with me," Paulus said after Saturday's loss. "I’ve been at this club nine years, and a lot of these players have been with me for all that time, and maybe they need a new voice."
On Tuesday, Paulus told CTV News that he has no regrets about saying what he did or the timing. He also said he hasn’t given up on the team, and that his comments were made partly to defend his players who he says are being bashed on social media by members of the team’s own fan base.
“They’re doing their best...You know, I think someone called them bums. One of the comments I read…I just can’t stand it. These are from our fans that are saying this. Some of what I said was to shield our players because they’ve been unfairly criticized,” said Paulus.
To be clear, Paulus wants to remain as head coach and general manager of the club, if possible. He’s played many roles for the team over a decade and built the current roster.
“Obviously, I don’t want to throw in the towel. I’m not a quitter. I want to keep fighting. But at the end of the day, we’re in a results-based business and unfortunately coaches are hired to be fired,” Paulus told CTV News.
Life in the CPL bubble has not been kind to FC Edmonton. The Eddies’ best result has been a draw in the first five matches, and the team has two more chances to produce a win in 2020.
No matter what happens during the off-season, Paulus wants his players to win at least one game before closing out the bubble experience.
“Just to show people. I think they’re playing for themselves here...We just need to prove now that we can win a game," said Paulus.
FC Edmonton plays York 9 at 6 p.m. MT on Tuesday before closing out the tournament by facing Pacific FC on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. MT.