When Hartford Athletic head coach Radhi Jaïdi was appointed ahead of the 2020 USL Championship season, he came from a background of success.
He represented Tunisia at two FIFA World Cups and played in the Premier League for both Bolton Wanderers and Birmingham City. He then managed Southampton’s U-23 team when his center-back days ended, cultivating future first-team players at a world-renowned academy.
That lens shaped Jaïdi’s early preseason days in Hartford, Conn., when he noticed a lack of confidence and overall potential. The first, naturally, came after a rough expansion season in 2019 when Hartford finished 34th of 36 USL Championship teams, resulting in then-head coach Jimmy Nielsen and Hartford mutually agreeing to part ways last October. As for the latter, it emerged before a scheduled opener March 13 at New York Red Bulls II.