Vancouver Whitecaps: Plan B

“Compromise is the devil talking,

and he spoke to me”

The Occasional Flicker-Dexys Midnight Runners

Compromise may be “the devil talking ” to Kevin Rowland, the slightly manic lead singer of a slightly manic band named after a drug designed to make you slightly manic, but to the rest of us it’s often the lifeblood of living in the world.

Giving a little bit here to get a little bit there may be the increasingly eroding foundation of a functioning society but we should cherish it while it still exists.

And given that it seems certain that Carl Robinson will be back as coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2018 (barring the unlikely, but still just possible enough to be cruel, divine intervention of the Welsh FA) maybe it’s time to find a compromise between the way he wants to play the game and the way we want to watch?

So let’s try to figure out if we can find some kind of happy medium.

This whole discussion is predicated on the fact we still don’t know the details of who is in and out of the squad next year of course but such is life.

There seems no reason to believe that David Edgar won’t “return” following his season long injury in 2017 however and that would give Robinson the chance to play three solid central defenders as the foundation of his lineup.

He’s tried it before to mixed reviews but given a preseason to work on the system it’s not inconceivable that Edgar, Waston and Parker could all be starters next year.

That gives Robinson the comfort of lots of defenders on the field but would also allow the full backs to push forward.

Jake Nerwinski was very good at that this year and Marcel de Jong proved capable in the time he was given.

In the ideal world a fit again Brett Levis would be Nerwinski’s counter point on the left given the role requires the ability to get up and down the field with regularity but if it’s not Levis then finding a quality left back should be high on the shopping list.

Those wing backs give Robinson the comfort of even more defenders on the field (particularly in road games) while offering much more of an attacking threat at home.

And the super bonus of this system is that the coach can add one more player to his central midfield.

It’s possible that it was as much the “new car smell” as their play which swayed so many of us toward Ghazal and Nosa at the end of the season, but assuming that wasn’t the case and they actually are a step up in quality then one more decent player alongside them would allow the Whitecaps to really shore up the centre of the pitch in most games.

Even a Tony Tchani or a reassigned Alphonso Davies could do that job with some success.

Up front, and this is the key to the whole thing, if Robinson wants to play a lone striker as a target man (and he really, really does) then he needs to recruit a player who both knows and wants to play that way.

Fredy Montero did brilliantly to turn a sow’s ear of a role into something akin to a silk purse but ultimately it was a waste of both his talent and the club’s money.

If Vancouver can pick up a decent journeyman to lead the line (most likely from Northern Europe) they can then spend the money they save on the striking role to get that extra quality midfielder or even a very, very good left back.

The final piece is to allow Yordy Reyna to roam free somewhere in the vicinity of the number ten position to cause general chaos.

It isn’t a perfect system by any means but on the road it would be able collapse into a veritable seven or eight man defence with the chance of a break enhanced by a genuine target man and at home it could transform into a five man midfield capable of getting in crosses from both flanks.

It wouldn’t be overly pretty football but it might be effective and it might even be exciting at times.

But whatever happens the key is to recruit players designed to fit the system Robinson intends to play.

That should be blindingly obvious but there’s been far too much buyer’s remorse from the Whitecaps over recent seasons as they find themselves constantly trying to force three or four square pegs into two or three round holes.

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