What is a New Year resolution?
It’s the act of resolving to follow a particular path over the next twelve months. And “resolve” is as close to “re solve” as makes no difference and so leads to the conclusion that what we’re really attempting each new year is to solve the same puzzle over and over again.
We figure it out for a while, then forget, only to be faced with the exact same conundrum come year’s end.
I’ll leave you to decide what your own particular puzzle is because once you have figured that out it will never need solving again.
(Incidentally, my resolution is to see how many trite platitudes I can pass off as wisdom in 2018).
But what resolutions should the Vancouver Whitecaps be making for the coming year?
Well, there will be time enough to deal with on field issues as the season progresses so let’s take a look at how they might be able to improve away from the playing surface.
More focused transfer policy- The Whitecaps trading record isn’t terrible but it isn’t great either. Too often they seem to have acquired a player because he was available than because he fitted a particular need.
Think Fredy Montero (a great season in the end but not the player to play that role) or Brek Shea or Giles Barnes. All players with name recognition in MLS but who all struggled to find the right role within the side.
Early indications are good in this respect.
Both Anthony Blondell and Kei Kamara have potential issues but both are at least equipped to play that lone striker role.
And while the temptation to yearn for a quality number ten or a box to box midfielder may be overwhelming, if Carl Robinson doesn’t want to send out a team in that way (and probably can’t send out a team in that way) then it’s a waste of everybody’s time and TAM.
Just bring in better defensive midfielders and wide players.
Trust the sport- One of the main appeals of football/soccer is, for the want of a better word, “edginess”.
From the supporter culture the team celebrates in marketing but seems to mistrust in reality, to the blatant cheating on the field that alienates so many North American sports lovers to the sheer pureness of the sporting spectacle so free of unnatural interruptions (let’s not get into a debate about VAR here).
Soccer goes hand in hand with youth culture, politics, music and just about everything else commercial entities want to align themselves with and profit from.
The Portland Timbers (for one) have certainly figured this out and MLS itself flirts with the idea without ever fully committing.
But the Whitecaps seem more intent on trying to be a less interesting version of the Canucks, stepping down on anything within BC Place or beyond that would offend the type of ticket holder who regards going to the game as a chance to talk about which corporate targets they have met this week.
Let the odd none football related banner go unremarked, be relaxed if a player speaks out about a current issue and don’t respond to every surge of internet outrage by trying to calm waters which probably needed disturbing anyway.
Easier said than done I know but controversy is the lifeblood of soccer more than any other sport, so enjoy the free advertising and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Be better on social media- there’s a part of me that doesn’t give a flying flapjack about what the Whitecaps Twitter account does and doesn’t say, but this is the modern world and it matters to an awful lot of people.
And, like it or not, social media presence becomes the personality of the club on the days when the team isn’t playing.
If you want an example of how effective a marketing tool it can be then take a look at the TSS FC Twitter account which strikes the exact right tone for the people who go to their games.
Now I get that pleasing a narrow range of fans who go to Swangard is a much broader rope to walk along than the diversity of those who attend BC Place, but if you’re going to have a social media presence (and they are) then make it one that consistently has a personality beyond bland promotional tweets.
Do something nice for the supporters- And I’m not talking about early bird specials on overpriced alcohol here.
Last year New York City FC offered free tickets to their game in New England to any fan who attended all their home games thus far and many a season ticket package across the league comes with so much more than those distributed by the Whitecaps.
Do these things matter in the grand scheme of things?
Probably not, but they are a remarkably cheap way (in terms of overall marketing budget) of letting loyal followers know their loyalty actually means something.
Too often the Whitecaps feel like they have adopted the cable company policy of not giving two squawks for those who have already signed on the dotted line and are only interested in those they have yet to ensnare.
But soccer doesn’t work like that (and I’m not even sure that cable companies will work like that in the long run) because the loyal follower now will be a loyal follower for life and so will their children and their grandchildren if they are treated with even a degree of regard.
Spend a little and get a a boat load of good will in return.
Overall things aren’t terrible in the off field world of the Vancouver Whitecaps but it’s frustrating to see how much better it could be with just a little imagination and a little more courage (that goes for the on the field performance too but I promised I wouldn’t get into that this time around).
Is the schedule out yet?