In perhaps one of the least surprising announcements from Vancouver Whitecaps in 2011, Paul Ritchie was officially confirmed as Martin Rennie’s assistant manager this morning, following much internet speculation.
A fellow Scot, Ritchie has been Rennie’s assistant at Carolina since the start of the 2010 NASL season, having first come to the Railhawks as a player, in February 2009.
And Rennie is delighted to have him with him here in Vancouver:
“Paul was a key member of my coaching staff in Carolina the past two seasons. He brings a wealth of knowledge and will play an important role in building a successful team here in Vancouver.”
As a player, Ritchie only played one match for Carolina, against Minnesota on April 26th 2009, before a knee injury in those 41 substitute minutes played signalled not just an end to his time as a Carolina player, but also his entire playing career.
Before retiring, Ritchie was working his way towards UEFA’s “A” coaching licence, which he now has, along with his UEFA “B” and SFA Youth licences. Management was always on his mind, and after a career at the top level in both Scotland and England, it was a move that made sense.
Paul Ritchie is a Fife lad, like myself. In fact, he lived in the village next to my hometown, so AFTN is very pleased to welcome him to the Whitecaps and to Vancouver.
His vast experience as a defender will also be an added benefit to the Caps, who were all over the place at times back there this season. He can also draw on his experience as a Scottish international, for whom he won seven caps and scored one goal (against the Czech Republic).
Ritchie started his career with Hearts in the SPL, making 133 appearances, scoring 6 goals and guiding them to the 1998 Scottish Cup in the process. Stints in England at Bolton, Manchester City, Portsmouth, Derby and Walsall followed, before a return to Scotland with Dundee United for two seasons in 2004.
When Ritchie took the Carolina coaching position he told the Daily Record in Scotland:
“It’s a chance to expand my coaching skills in a wonderful environment…I’ve been searching for a chance in Scotland but they are few and far between, so decided to go to the US.”
And now he’s made the move to Canada alongside Rennie and he can’t wait to get things going here:
“I am looking forward to working with Martin again in this new challenge. Vancouver is a beautiful city and I can’t wait to get started.”
With some comparing Rennie’s style and approach to the game to that of a young Brian Clough, that would make Ritchie his Peter Taylor.
The Caps new boss was clearly keen on Ritchie from an early stage, telling Oursportscentral.com, upon Ritchie’s release as a player”
“He’s played at the highest level and is obviously a fantastic player. What I didn’t realize was how good a guy he is, how much respect he showed to everybody here and how much he helped us build the environment that we’ve got.
He’s helped set a culture where people have high expectations and also looked out for one another. That’s real impressive to me from someone who has already been there, seen it, done it. And he was still willing to completely buy in to what we’re doing. And that was amazing to me.”
And that is exactly what is needed at Vancouver Whitecaps right now. We need unity. We need everyone one the same page and buying in to what the manager is trying to do. That was the clear message when Rennie arrived yesterday.
With Paul Ritchie we get that, along with someone who knows Rennie’s ways and style.
We don’t want to put too much pressure on them already, but this Celtic connection already has me excited.