Vancouver Whitecaps announced that they had secured Carl Robinson and his coaching team onto new multi-year contracts on Sunday. After last season’s offseason of instability, it’s been a far different story as the Caps head into the 2015 season and the extension of Robinson, Gordon Forrest, Martyn Pert and Marius Rovde is just another part of that.
Locking down Robinson has been applauded by pretty much all pundits and fans alike. Aaron Campbell looks at the good, the average and the bad aspects of it all…
Long term stability
I know this is a new concept for Canadian MLS teams, but having a coach stay more then one or two seasons can only be good for the team. Robinson came in last season and laid out a long term plan for the club that involves a big effort from producing regular talent from the Residency to building talent from South America. This plan isn’t a one to three year plan. This is a long term five to six to ten year plan that should make the team and Canadian soccer better over the long term.
By signing Robinson, Forrest, Pert and Rovde to extensions, it gives the players reassurance that the gameplan moving forward is for the long term. Players like Marco Bustos, Kianz Froese and Marco Carducci now know that the path that there young careers have been led down the past season will continue to give them the best chance to be quality MLS players down the road. They don’t have to worry about a new manager coming in and changing the path and moving away from youth.
Look at Caleb Clarke, under Martin Rennie he was shipped off to Germany and told that the club’s direction was to have him play over there. There was no talk of having him in the MLS squad in Vancouver. There where rumours that there was no way he was re-signing in Vancouver this past off season. Once Robinson was signed and the proper communication opened up with Clarke and the chance to play MLS and USL Pro in Vancouver he decided to stick around.
He was not the first player under Rennie to question coming to play in Vancouver or who was mistreated. Look at Atiba Harris, Alain Rochat, Davide Chiumiento and Eric Hassli. They all had various issues with Rennie and mistrust about what was said to them.
The players know they won’t have to worry about being mistreated and lied to like that with Carl around. He says one of his best qualities is his honesty, which has to go down well with his players.
Can’t Settle For Average Effort Moving Forward
Some people say Robinson over achieved last season. I myself thought the team would be a 7th place finisher in the West. This contract moving forward will put added pressure of Robinson and the coaching staff. People will now expect continued improvement, difficult in itself after a season of bests.
That’s means we as supporters, bloggers and media shouldn’t and won’t settle for average effort anymore. We are going to see the peaks and valleys (see below) but at times last season the effort was average or below average at best.
The players have to realize if they don’t give 100% it’s not the coaches that will be leaving if they struggle. These extensions means if players (Canadian or not) can’t cut it or can’t get to the level to make first team there is a chance of them being demoted to USL Pro or being cut from the team all together.
I know it won’t take long for this concept to be trolled on Twitter by certain TFC media, but if our young Canadians can’t make the MLS starting 11 or game day 18 because of skill level it means that they just don’t have the skill or aren’t making the effort needed, suffering the fate that will come with that.
Peaks and Valleys
Last year was a season with many peaks and many valleys. The supporters, for the most part, were pro-Robinson throughout the whole season. The main part of the season where Robinson’s decisions were questioned was people saying he fielded a too young line-up against TFC in the Canadian Championship.
With the new long term contract, what kind of effect will it have if this season is not as good as last season? What happens if the whole season is a valley? Will supporters stand by Carl if that happens? Fans can be quick to turn everywhere and past achievements are often soon forgotten.
A new contract means long term stability for the team but it also means that if there is a hiccup this season the coaching staff will be held accountable, but moving forward there may be a peak right around the corner. Having a new coach around for the long term is new for Vancouver, it’s even a new concept for all the Canadian MLS teams.
So let’s all be excited about the announcement today but let’s remember what this means for the future – that no matter how high the peaks and how low the valley, Robinson and this coaching staff are in this for the long haul. But also remember, contracts often mean little if the results aren’t there to back things up.