Eight, nine or ten for the Whitecaps?

Imagine for a moment that you’re the one in charge of all the big decisions for the Vancouver Whitecaps.

It’s already been a busy off-season; you’ve given the go ahead for little blue triangles to be added to the new white home shirt and you’re confident that you’ve hired the very best people to handle the streaming of the pre-season games.

But now you’re faced with the biggest challenge yet.

Financial restraints mean only one Designated Player can be added to the team and owners want you to decide if that should be a number eight, a number nine or a number ten.

Despite being  somewhat appalled at their slightly reductive way of looking at tactical positioning you set about pondering their question.

You first remember that a very briulliant blogger once argued that Matias Laba either can’t or won’t be asked to play the purely defensive midfield role so that would make a true box to box midfielder both a bonus and a liability to the team.

True, the team could definitely do with a player who added to the numbers going forward but if that was at the cost of leaving the back four as exposed as it was last year that could mean good money spent simply to stand still.

Anyway, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that Vancouver just need a good finisher to make everything okay isn’t it?

Well it kind of is, but while the Whitecaps definitely created chances last season a whole bunch of those chances were created by work rate and pace rather than creativity.

Slot a pure finisher into the lineup and it’s just possible that a numbder of those chances may suddenly disappear making his presence a lot less effective than we all presume it would be.

So perhaps a creative presence at number ten is the answer?

It’s certainly one area where Carl Robinson hasn’t had much success since he took over the coaching role with his two main options either being Pedro Morales (who lacked the quickness of short passing and instinct to get forward) and Nicolas Mezquida (who lacks the inate creativity).

So simply putting a genuinely effective number ten should solve all the problems?

Again what we really come back to is the way Robinson likes to set up his team; he seems to prefer “and a half” players.

In other words he likes a wide man who plays narrow and he definitely likes forwards who can play anywhere along the front line; somewhere between a nine and a ten.

But when he does play a straight up forward man then he prefers him to play facing the rest of the team rather than the opposition goal meaning that he becomes the de facto creative hub for the rest of the attack to play off.

So if the coach genuinely likes these “portmanteau” players then concentrating on signing their exact opposite may be detrimental to the team in the long run.

That means the best answer you can give to the question of whether to sign a number eight, nine or ten is to give no answer at all.

Good work!


4 thoughts on “Eight, nine or ten for the Whitecaps?”

  1. I yet again so agree with you re: ‘no answer’. Caps have ‘free role’ DM Laba, so getting prominent CM (8) like Huchinson would probably be a waste of talent, as he would have to cover Laba’s hole a lot. (Jacobson has been a hole filler already. I think Jacobson was the most attacking flared CM in the team but his talent was wasted somewhat.)

    (9) All the Caps chances are made by pace and physical bumps, so having a pure finisher would drop the number of chances for sure, as you said and as Kudo proved (you won’t believe it, but Kudo in Hiroshima is still touted as one of the 2017 J-league golden boots candidates by JP critics). Watching the 2017 preseason games, things haven’t changed much.

    (10) Mezquida was (yet again) free role AM who wasn’t demanded to support ST, so getting a supportive 10 would be most appreciated by STs, maybe.

    But frankly if Robbo can make Laba/Teibert to settle as a more defensive DM, to make them stop sending spinal reflexes-ish long balls to Hurtado, and to support more flared team mates, then Caps have talents to threat the opponents, I think. Without doing so any acquisition of new talents would be wasted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, Robbo wasn’t sure how to use Kudo and Burns effectively.

      Remembered one more thing. I heard, in a JP soccer TV show in which Kudo introduced how competitive MLS is (end of December, just before his transfer), a soccer expert who watched Caps match instantly pointed out that “Caps have a problem in defensive discipline, right Mr Kudo?”. Kudo just politely smiled as he always does ;-). He was talking about Laba, I thought.

      And come to think of it, it’s not just Laba. The first thing I thought in 2016 was, “why Caps SBs go forward so much while they are obviously very weak at defending counter-attacks?” I realized later that Just All Go and Destroy was Robbo’s soccer and it worked beautifully at times, but in the long run without having a solid defense composure creative players (especially wingers) can’t use their talents, one would imagine.

      Kudo answered Vancouver JP paper’s interview at the end of 2016 season, and all of the mental issue he said he was gonna change himself was a direct quote from my blog. I wrote –

      [Press harder to SHOW your intention to contribute to the team; be more VOCAL to tell what you want to do. Telling things to JP papers doesn’t change your game. Yell at your team mates in BC Place and prove what you can do in front of fans!]

      I believe he read it and he was determined to do so in 2017, but doing so in Hiroshima looked more attractive for his career (Hiroshima is a very organize pass-oriented team, producing league top scorer annually). Oh well. But anyways, WE BLOGGERS CAN CHANGE THINGS, maybe! 🙂


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