Sigi Schmid told ESPN FC that "it was probably the best decision" that he be replaced as manager of the LA Galaxy, even as the team sits three points outside the playoff places with six games left to play.
"With the coaching change, there's always a boost that comes with it," he said via telephone in an exclusive interview. "We were planning to go really defensive in the last six games. So maybe with those two things that will be enough to push the team into the playoffs."
Earlier in the week, team president Chris Klein characterized the decision for Schmid to be replaced as a "collective" one between Schmid and the front office. When asked if that was the case, and who approached who in terms of suggesting Schmid step down, he said: "That's really for [the Galaxy] to answer."
As for whether he agreed with the decision, Schmid said: "You agree with some things, you don't agree with others, but at the end of the day it's probably the best decision."
Schmid, who has struggled with his health in recent years, added: "Health had nothing to do with [the decision to change managers]."
The Galaxy have endured an up-and-down season. A nine-game unbeaten streak in league play from June 2 to July 29 left LA in third place in the Western Conference on 35 points. But a six-game winless streak has followed, one that has resulted in the Galaxy falling to eighth place in the conference standings, three points out of the sixth and final playoff spot, but with two more games played than the sixth-place Seattle Sounders. Defensively, the team has been a mess this season, with its 54 goals allowed tied for the second-worst mark in the league.
In the midst of these struggles, sources close to the team have painted a picture of an organization in which Schmid clashed with the front office in terms of personnel decisions. Klein said earlier this week that Schmid had full control of that area.
When asked if that was the case, Schmid said: "They can answer that. I'm not going to go there."
But later Schmid hinted that there were at least disagreements in other areas.
"My goal [was that] I had told them it was a two-year project and then [I'd] leave with an infrastructure that was better than the infrastructure I found," he said. "I think we were allowed to accomplish that in some areas and in some areas it hasn't happened yet."
When asked why he hadn't been able to accomplish his goals in all areas, Schmid said: "I don't make final decisions."
Who was stopping him?
"You guys can talk about that."
An L.A. Times report stated that Schmid wasn't popular with the players, and the team's 6-2 defeat to Real Salt Lake in its last match seems to bear this out, but Schmid denied that he had lost the locker room.
"The way we were coaching was always a way in which [assistant coach] Dominic [Kinnear] interacted with them a little bit more," he said. "But to me that's always the role of the assistant coach. The head coach is the one who has to say, 'You're not playing.' The assistant coach is the guy who can go up to him and say, 'Just keep your head up and keep working. It will work out.' One's your friend, one's your enemy.
"In any team there's going to be guys who are happy with you or unhappy with me. I think there were some guys who were unhappy with me, yeah. But that's normal. I don't think the team stopped trying at any point."
Sources have also stated that Schmid clashed with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and that his relationship with the players had deteriorated to the point where he had stopped addressing the team after games. But Schmid denied both assertions.
"Zlatan and me, I think everything was great," he said. "It was a professional relationship. We talked about a lot of stuff. There wasn't things that we disagreed with. He was frustrated because we were giving up goals and so was I. There was nothing where we argued or anything like that."
As for his communication with the team, Schmid explained his approach there.
"We talked after the Salt Lake game, and after the LAFC game," he said. "I don't know where that comes from. There would be certain times where I wouldn't walk in and talk to them. If we're on the road, sometimes I don't address the team until we get back to the hotel [for the post-game] meal. It's just easier because we're going to be together anyway. After Salt Lake, I addressed them in the locker room before they left. A lot of times on the road I do that, but that's normal."