Robbie Savage today announced that he is not going to be pulling on a Vancouver Whitecaps jersey and will see out his contract with Championship strugglers Derby County.
Like most things in this saga, the annoucement came straight from the mouth of the Rams captain via his Twitter feed.
“Made my decision on the future and I’m going to stay here. Canada was a great option but it was to big a move for my family…. It was a massive call but I’ve worked hard in the media to get where I am and took good advice off people. It’s the right choice”.
Savage had already said that he had been very impressed by the Vancouver presentation and the chance to help raise the profile of the game over here. He went on to praise the efforts of the Caps to attract him to the city and to MLS:
“The Vancouver presentation was awesome. Looks like they’re going for it big time. Lovely people. A great chance for someone. Good luck Vancouver”.
Such high praise and comments may pique the interest of one or two other “name” players in the UK right now, but probably sadly ones at the end of their career or ones that may be looking to move to Vancouver for all the wrong reasons.
At 36 years old, with one, maybe two, decent seasons left in him, it was the right decision all round. Uprooting your young family to another country, a country in which most football fans, never mind most people, will have no idea who you are is a daunting proposition.
As we said before, we’re big fans of Robbie. He’s a character, the kind of player which is sorely missing from the modern game. He actually has a personality. Sure you hate him if he is playing against your team, but when you’re a neutral, it’s great to watch him wind up the opposition and fly into tackles.
Savage still has passion. You saw that yesterday with his reaction to being subbed in the Derby-Notts Forest game, throwing his boots down and sitting on the bench arms crossed and without his tracksuit on for the rest of the game. He also commented on this on his Twitter page:
“My frustration got the better of me. Should set an example as captain but it’s in the heat of the moment! Problem is I still care!”
I don’t think that Robbie was the right player for the Whitecaps from an on the field footballing sense. We need to be looking at players that are younger and that can give us a good 5 years at least. Preferably a fucking striker at some point in time.
That said, I’d much rather have players that actually give a fuck about the Club, the fans and the jersey than ones that are just coming for the money. If we’re all being honest, I don’t think Robbie could have generated the same passion in him here. That takes time to build up inside you.
What did thrill me about Robbie coming to Vancouver was what he could bring to the team off the field and the more I got thinking about that, the more I was liking the idea of him coming here and was becoming more and more excited about the prospect.
When you look at the other “big name” players that have come into MLS, they’re not in the same League as Savage when it comes to charisma and media savvy. The problem Robbie may have found here is that as football is a minority sport in North America, I don’t know how ready the Canadian media would have been for him and his personality and what opportunities there would be for him to build a media career here.
He’s worked very hard to get his media career going and when you’re a player coming to the end of your playing career you have to look ahead. You’d be an idiot not to. The BBC and ESPN stints in the UK have a high profile. He’s a regular on shows like Soccer AM and a good guest to have on any football related show. He wouldn’t have got those kind of opportunities here. A spot on Team 1040 isn’t quite the same!
I was looking forward to the Whitecaps profile being raised in the UK, as you could be sure we’d be featuring on Soccer AM loads. A crossbar challenge at least and who knows what new feature this could have become on the show, ala with Robbie Fowler down in Oz.
He’d have loved the Southsiders. We’d have loved him. I was looking forward to trying to get him for the first AFTN podcast we have planned and film some stuff for subsequent ones. Sadly it was all not to be, but we respect his decision not to come and it was probably the correct one.
The Whitecaps have kept a dignified silence in all of this, but you have to wonder how happy they will be that all of this has been played out in the media and social media sites.
Savage has been on radio in the UK discussing the move. You could argue that the prospective move has actually helped his media presence in the UK. Us Whitecaps fans have found out everything about it from him and not the Club. In fact, many of us found out last night that the deal to bring Robbie to Vancouver had fallen through from new goalkeeper Joe Cannon’s Twitter feed.
It’s hard to control players and prospective players in this modern, social techonological media age, but surely the Whitecaps should have asked Savage not to comment on this to the media until after the deal was finalised one way or the other.
The whole saga has now proved quite embarrassing to them. It’s shown the Club to be targetting an older player and not looking at established younger talent. A player more known for his winding up of the opposition and physical style of play, than for his flair and other footballing abilities. We also weren’t able to attract this player to the Club in the end.
It all makes the fans question what direction the front office see the MLS Whitecaps going.
What worries me now though is how much time and effort have the Caps spent in trying to secure Robbie Savage? Now that this has fallen through, is there a plan B? Where do we go from here? Do we have designated players lined up and are any of them likely to be able to put the ball into the back of the net?
So many questions, not a lot of answers. With the MLS season approaching, the one thing that is certain is that the Caps need to add some decent talent pretty soon.