If Peter Nowak's coaching style is as sharp as the tailored suit jacket and blue-and-gold tie he wore to yesterday's announcement of his appointment as the Philadelphia Union's first head coach, the 2010 Major League Soccer season can't arrive fast enough.
Nowak, 44, whom Union president Tom Veit pegged as "the man we were after all along," looked the part of the chosen one as he calmly fielded questions at the Wharf Building along Chester's waterfront.
The one-time playmaker of the year in the German Bundesliga noted that hard work reaps rewards, and that only players with that mind-set will take the pitch.
"I don't believe in awards, I believe in hard work," Nowak said. "Teams I have coached in the past know this and that's what I intend to do with this team."
This situation is unique for Nowak; this will be his first appointment where players were not already in place and at his disposal. He, along with members of the Union's ownership group, have the arduous task of scouting, checking out the expansion and waiver drafts, and keeping tabs on the free-agent market both domestically and abroad. Nowak has proven, however, that he can turn average talent into winners.
In 2004, Nowak relieved former D.C. United coach Ray Hudson and led that team to an MLS Cup title in the same year. He is also the only coach in the last 50 years of any U.S. sport to win a championship within 2 years of retiring as a player.
"I intend to come in here and do this right, and while this situation is new for me, I know what I want and I have the vision of what [Union CEO & Operating Partner] Nick [Sakiewicz] and [Chairman] Jay [Sugarman] want and those two things work together, so I am excited to get this rolling," Nowak said.
Nowak noted that there are "no slashes" with his title.
"I am here as the team manager and that's it," Nowak said. "There are no slashes here; I'm not manager slash this and manager slash that, I am the manager. I am here to coach a team and produce championships and that is my main focus right now."
Nowak mentioned that a move to the Philadelphia area was imminent. Currently residing in Naples, Fla., Nowak is still waiting on Union ownership to determine where its practice facility will be. Veit suggested a site in Delaware County and in close proximity to the stadium. He added that the site could even be on the current grounds.
"Everyone has been really great here and I am really excited to see what this city has to offer," Nowak said. "I know we already have a great fan base and they love their sports here, so I just feel privileged to be apart of it." *