What a strange ghost pepper of a season it’s been thus far for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Until recently Carl Robinson persisted in playing a formation and style that was not only deathly dull to watch but also wasn’t working.
Time after time the Whitecaps sat back against teams who there for the taking and time after time they were undone by their passivity leaving the coach to bemoan singular moments in games which should have produced a plurality of chances.
We also saw new acquisitions who could barely function for the way the team was playing and an almost pathological desire to switch players in and out of the starting eleven irrespective of form or performance.
Then, just when it seemed the whole enterprise would collapse beneath the weight of its own tedium, Robinson switched to playing two up front and the games began to get a little more entertaining.
A series of 2-2 ties is nowhere near enough to drag them back to the top of the table but at least they seem to be trying to score goals when they go forward (and they do actually go forward from time to time).
Do we give the coach credit for this change of attitude?
If we must I suppose but it really does feel as though it’s been thrust upon him by either circumstance or decree from on high because if you ask Siri “What is a defensive coach?” she will still send you a link to Carl Robinson’s Wikipedia page.*
So full credit to him for straining against every sinew of his being and beliefs for the last few games.
It almost certainly won’t end well of course.
One only need look at his notion that Bernie Ibini is good enough to be an occasional starter to realise the flaws are still there (on the field Ibini mostly looks like a man who is aware of the concept of soccer but has yet to ever see it played) and, like an habitual smoker who craves “just one more” before giving up for good, Robinson will no doubt return to his defensive ways should the Whitecaps somehow scrape in to the playoffs and we’ll all be left shaking our heads in dismay that it’s come to this again.
So maybe it’s best to treat this period of the season the way the child of parents who argue their way through the misery of their marriage treats a trip to Disneyland?
What’s gone before can’t be changed and what’s to come will inevitably be the same as what’s gone before and probably worse but, right here and right now, they are riding on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the warm California wind feels great in their face.
*She doesn’t of course. She gives a link to NFL coach George Edwards (The level of research I put into this blog really is quite astonishing!)