If the Holiday period is about anything it’s about people arguing over petty differences while terrible atrocities happen in all four corners of the world.
But it’s also about judging other people in a harsh and unforgiving manner and so, with that in mind, this seems a good time to look at a few of the things that are most concerning about the current Vancouver Whitecaps.
A lot of these stem from a recent interview Carl Robinson gave to the AFTN podcast (and you can hear it here).
There were two ways of taking the entirety of what the coach said; you could either choose to see a man who was unphased by the pressures of the role and who had a firm grip on the tiller of the team or you could choose to see a man who failed to recognise the enormity of the task and who also failed to acknowledge just how bad his team were in 2016.
In the spirit of the season let’s adopt the latter approach for now.
Robinson certainly admitted that the season could have been better but he persisted in his view that the Whitecaps just weren’t that far away from being the finished article.
I guess that depends what the definition of the finished article is but Robinson’s contention that his team were maybe just two or three wins (or a couple of silly late goals) away from making the playoffs and therefore having a successful season sounds like three parts revisionism and two parts lack of ambition.
If the definition of success is a one game “play in” game on the road then that seems an awfully low bar to set.
Did the fact that Portland and now Seattle had won the MLS Cup put pressure on him? Seemingly not. Everything was as then as it is now in terms of pressure (he feels very little was the overarching feeling listening to him speak).
Now all of this could just be a coach being wary of what he said to the media but Robinson does seem to struggle in connecting to the fans (or some fans at least) when it comes to putting across just how much the game actually means.
But away from spurious speculation about the coach’s media motivation it was disconcerting to hear him say that any new players signed wouldn’t be there to block the path of the youngsters coming through the system.
Translation: “If we get the chance to sign somebody better than Marco Bustos we won’t do it”.
Now either that just isn’t true (I suspect it isn’t) or it’s a foolhardy way of bringing through young players.
Emerging players need to be challenged as they develop. Not given a free pass to the first team with all obstacles removed on the way.
Again we’re probably in the land of milquetoast media replies than anything else but it didn’t do anythng to quell the notion that the Whitecaps on the whole are happier with the status quo than they really should be.
Finally there’s the whole business of player recruitment.
We obviously don’t know the intricate details of how the club scout and sign players (this is MLS after all and sometimes I’m surprised they even release the results of games without some kind of obscure regulation being involved) but it does appear that Robinson himself is, by some distance, the main protagonist in deciding who to scout and who to sign.
That system works to a degree but it does mean that if he were to leave (for whatever reason) the Whitecaps will have almost zero continuity when it comes to acquisitions going forward.
If everybody in the squad is essentially a Robinson signing that creates an unwelcome dynamic for the next coach to come along.
It seems far better to make the business of bringing in players more centralised within the club than to trust it all to the man who is arguably (by the unwritten rules of soccer) the most ephemeral figure on the staff other than the people who actually get to kick a ball on match day.
Oh well. Hopefully this hasn’t been too downbeat for the festive season but worry not but because next time out we’ll look at the “Reasons to be Cheerful”.
A far merrier subject to be sure.