New Hartford Athletic Head Coach Radhi Jaidi recently met the club's fans after arriving to take the reins in the Athletic's second season in the USL Championship. | Photo courtesy Hartford Athletic
HARTFORD, Conn. – After a playing career that spanned more than 500 games at the club and international level, as well as experience in the coaching ranks at Premier League side Southampton FC, new Hartford Athletic Head Coach Radhi Jaidi has some strong ideas for how he’d like to improve the second-year USL Championship club.
“Professionalism, mentality, reality check, high intensity,” Jaidi the Hartford Courant’s Shawn McFarland recently. “A lot of stuff I could go through. I think professionalism is the main concept that I think soccer in the USA needs at this moment, especially at the USL level, to grow up.”
The former Tunisian international also enters the club looking to immerse himself in his new situation as the Athletic look to rise in the Eastern Conference standings in 2020.
“From my perspective, the main challenge is understanding the culture and the people I’m working with,” Jaidi told McFarland. “I think that’s the most important thing for me at the moment. And then moving forward, that’s how I can have an impact on what we do here.”
Jaidi has already been busy to those ends. In addition to doing the rounds with local media and meet-and-greets with Hartford’s supporters, he and his family have also been exploring their new home. Jaidi has also been working with the Athletic’s leadership to help assemble the roster that will convene early next month for preseason training, with 15 players current signed for the 2020 season.
When those players arrive to begin camp, it promises to be an interesting experience. Jaidi’s work with Southampton’s U-23 side and within the organization he played for mean a high level of professionalism and a high intensity of work are going to be the standard the 44-year-old expects.
If the club’s intensity on the field can match that provided in the stands at Dillon Stadium during the Athletic’s inaugural season, that should bode well for an improved campaign.
“I think that will give us the energy and the power to keep going and work hard, and to achieve and meet the expectations,” Jaidi told McFarland. “The fans are really important. We want them to be around us, we want them to support us, we want them to be behind us every single minute.”