Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson

Whitecaps appoint new coach

By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor

In December, after a month and a half of scouring the globe for the top coaching talent, the Vancouver Whitecaps made the announcement that their new head coach was to be none other than the highly-regarded…Carl Robinson. In other words, the club took six weeks to turn around and toss the keys to their assistant coach. Nothing against Robinson here (more on that later), but it wasn’t quite the definitive move the club should have been making.

In a market that featured Frank Yallop, Bob Bradley, and Jason Kreis, it’s difficult not to feel more than a little disappointed. With the stale taste of failure still lingering from Martin Rennie’s reign, it seems a little counter-intuitive to put his right-hand man in charge. The club could use a winner. An experienced manager. Someone who could inspire faith not only in the players but in the fans, who are getting a little tired after three years of relative “meh.”

While it’s easy to allow the club the excuse that neither Yallop nor Kreis were ever going to come here, Bradley was certainly a possibility. Bradley has been very public about his desire to coach in Europe, but when he took the time to come out to Vancouver, you can be assured it wasn’t just to take a walk around Stanley Park. He was ready to listen. However, whatever the ‘Caps’ pitch to him was, it wasn’t good enough, and that’s completely unacceptable. To have an established coach pass you by for a small Norwegian club that plays out of a stadium with a capacity of 7,000 is a downright embarrassment. Bradley could have put Vancouver on the right path and sorted out talented diva Darren Mattocks. C’est la vie.

Tossing a towel on the spilt milk for a moment, the Whitecaps aren’t in the worst situation. Robinson, despite his lack of head coaching experience is a well-respected figure, both at the club and elsewhere. Even Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey gave his vote of confidence in the no-nonsense first-year man. Taking a look at recent history, there’s even a good chance Robinson sees some level of success. Mike Petke, a veteran of the game himself, led the New York Red Bulls to the top of the table last season. Admittedly, Petke inherited a talented roster that included the likes of Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, but Robinson isn’t exactly working with a Toronto FC roster himself, here. Camilo Sanvezzo, Mattocks, Kekuta Manneh, Erik Hurtado, Gershon Koffie, and a multitude of others comprise the squad. With the right coaching, they might just have what it takes to take the league by storm next year.