Photo credit: TheSoccerObserver.com
So it has been over a week and the Whitecaps have yet to announce a head coach. The scandal! As all of us were expecting Frank Yallop to be introduced as the heir to the Vancouver soccer helm, the Chicago Fire snuck in, from what seems out of nowhere, and scooped up the local boy.
There has been a lot of debate as to whether this is good or bad for the Whitecaps. More importantly, there are some that see the team’s failure to land Yallop as clear indication of the inability of the eam’s decision makers to make the best decisions for the club. Personally, I don’t read that much into this situation and I, for one, subscribe to the idea that now that he who many saw as the obvious choice to take the reins is out of the picture, the Whitecaps have the opportunity to really explore their options and, hopefully, make a better decision for the long term benefit of the team.
As of late, Jason Kreis, Bruce Arena, Sigi Schmid and even Bob Bradley have been touted by many journalists, pundits and fans as possible candidates to occupy the head coaching vacancy in Vancouver. However, what if the Whitecaps didn’t have to look far and wide to find their right man? Heck, maybe he is already employed by the club. I will argue that perhaps the best option is no other than current assistant coach Carl Robinson.
When analyzing the situation, I believe there are far more pros than cons to giving Robinson the nod and promoting him to head coach. For starters, he enjoyed a successful playing career at a high level both in England and MLS. As an international player, he represented his country in over 50 matches. Many pointed at Martin Rennie’s lack of playing experience as a drawback when it came to communicating and relating to his players, and perhaps it even permeated a certain lack of legitimacy in the Scotsman’s abilities.
Robinson also has a deep knowledge of Major League Soccer and the Canadian markets. MLS is a different beast in itself. Robinson joined Toronto FC in 2007. He played there for four seasons before being traded to New York where he finished his career in 2012. After his playing days were over, he joined Martin Rennie’s coaching staff in Vancouver. This means that he has had experience both as a player and as a member of the coaching staff in this league for over six years.
He knows the club and the city. After two years serving as an assistant coach in Vancouver he has had the chance to absorb and help shape the culture of the Whitecaps club in its short MLS history. More importantly, he has had first-hand experience with this particular team and should be able to identify what works, what doesn’t work and what is necessary to bring this team to the next level.
Finally, the players seem to like him. The appreciation that players like Camilo and Russell Teibert have for Robinson has been well documented. He has worked with them and helped them developed and improved themselves as players. This always helps gaining the esteem and respect of a dressing room.
The obvious big point against Carl Robinson is his lack of experience as a head coach. However, bringing rookie coaches may not necessarily become a “Ryan Nelsen” type disaster. There are recent examples where bets like this have paid off big for clubs, just look at Caleb Porter in Portland or even Martin Rennie himself. Do you remember the 2011 Whitecaps version? I do.
So, there you have it. A case for Carl Robinson to take the helm as the Whitecaps skipper. Who is your man?