Ken Loach isn’t a great movie director but he has directed some great movies.
True, there’s a certain Cinéma vérité about his style but, primarily, he’s concerned with substance over style and that substance is mostly about the heartbreaking futility of working class people trying to negotiate a system that is explicitly set up to thwart their dreams.
A generation of British schoolchildren grew up watching Loach’s film “Kes” in which a boy escapes the trials of his mining village upbringing by finding, nurturing and training a young kestrel.
In those moments in which he watches the bird soar he glimpses a kind of redemption for himself; the possibility that a frail and injured thing can somehow live magnificently in the world.
Then one day he comes home and finds that his elder brother has snapped the kestrel’s neck and left it dead in a trash can.
Cheers Ken! Life lesson learned!
Anybody who has seen the new “Rise Up Rain City” segment that’s played on the big screen before the Whitecaps home games this season will have noticed the Loachian influence.
The dreariness of the city, the players miserable and clearly pining for warmer climes they will never attain and a bedraggled pigeon standing sadly in a dirty puddle.
It doesn’t quite end with Alphonso Davies finding the pigeon in a trash can with a snapped neck but that’s the general tenure.
The system, it seems to say, will always thwart your dreams.
And that feels apt for the team this season because they are still battling to find a way to get the best out of themselves.
In San Jose on Saturday evening they raced into a two goal lead over the Earthquakes before a defensive mix up between Kendall Waston and Christian Dean enticed David Ousted to rush out of his penalty area and leave a trailing leg to bring down Chris Wondolowski and earn a red card.
At that time nobody thought that the player to bring off was Nicolas Mezquida. After all the Uruguayan is one of the hardest working players in the team and often proves to be a very effective first line of defence.
Much better to remove one of the more defensively limited forwards such as Techera or Manneh.
I say “nobody” thought that but it’s actually not true because one person did think exactly that and, unfortunately for the Whitecaps, that person happened to be Carl Robinson and his reputaion for not being able to make effective in game decisions took yet another hit.
There was a sense of inevitability about the subsequent three goals with Manneh failing to track back for the second and Russell Teibert failing to close down for the third and a bright start was left amounting to nothing.
Robinson does get some credit for fielding a weakened starting eleven that was able to make such an impressive start but he was as complicit in undoing that good start just as much as his players were.
And right now it feels as though he’s forcing those players into a system that seems explicitly designed to thwart their strengths.
In the post game interview Robinson went on at some length about how important it was for the officials to make the correct call on the big decisions.
Right back at you Carl.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings!
Ousted-4, Nerwinski-5.5, Waston-5, Dean-5, Harvey-5.5- Teibert-5, McKendry-5.5, Manneh-4, Techera-4.5, Mezquida-6, Hurtado-6* (Tornaghi-5)