VANCOUVER, B.C – The Vancouver Whitecaps are not preparing for a playoff match next week. Instead they are left to prepare to close out the MLS season with a meaningless match vs the Colorado Rapids on Sunday night at BC Place Stadium.
The Whitecaps squandered crucial home games that could have helped secure a berth in the playoffs. All the blame, and finger-pointing has landed squarely on coach Martin Rennie. His future is up the air, and during this final week of Whitecaps training at UBC it has often felt like he is a lame duck manager about to get the axe from the Whitecaps front office.
Going into this season Whitecaps ownership vocalized that the team goal was to make the playoffs, and host a home playoff match. That’s not going to be a reality after Vancouver lost 3-2 to Colorado last weekend.
Usually Martin Rennie is quick-witted, and never willing to offer up any information, regarding his teams tactics, formation or lineup. Martin Rennie was willing to open up on record about his future with the Vancouver Whitecaps, and whether or he thinks the team’s failure to make the playoffs will ultimately cost him his job.
“I don’t think so, but you just have to wait and see. I think that at the end of the day it’s been proven throughout the league and throughout the world of soccer that if you have continuity and you’re able to build a team then you are going to have success in the long-term. I think a lot of clubs have made a lot of changes and got worse and worse and I don’t think that would be the right way to go so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
The ever optimistic Rennie wasn’t wavering with his answer, but one would have to think he is putting on a brave face with the writing firmly written all over the wall. Whitecaps President Bob Lenarduzzi went on radio this week, and said the team would have a decision on its manager early next week. One would have to think that doesn’t bode well for Martin Rennie.
Nobody is aware of Martin Rennie’s contract details, but most believe he is not currently under contract for the 2014 season. As far as a team option, that doesn’t look to be on the table either. The Whitecaps have had all season to announce a contract extension for Rennie but it has never been announced. When Martin Rennie was asked if he has been offered an extension by the club he was understandably quick to brush off the subject.
“Well we’re not going to talk about that stuff.”
Player personnel has been a hot button topic amongst pundits, supporters, and all comers during an up and down Whitecaps season. Did Martin Rennie wait too long to play hat-trick hero Kekuta Manneh, should the Whitecaps have stuck with one keeper instead of three this season, and what about the mish-mash of midfielders who could never consistently find the right chemistry with strikers Camilo Sanvezzo, and Kenny Miller?
Those questions have dogged Rennie… but would a new manager be able to push the right buttons with this group of players to get the most out of them game in and game out? For now that’s a question that will remain unanswered until next season.
The Whitecaps have a strong veteran presence with Kenny Miller, Nigel Reo-Coker, Andy O’Brien, and Jay DeMerit. The youth movement has been slowed with Darren Mattocks, Omar Salgado, Erik Hurtado, and the hot and cold Russell Teibert. The structure, and player personnel going into next season is not at an elite level to compete for the ‘Supporters Shield.’
On whether the Whitecaps have the structure, and player personnel to be an improved top MLS club next season. Martin Rennie was honest in his assessment.
“No, I think it would need to be improved.”
The bottom line is something certainly needs to be improved to push the Whitecaps to the next level. A new coach could certainly provide that boost or a change in manager could completely backfire, and set the club back even further.
The Whitecaps will have to do their due diligence with every integral decision. Vancouver doesn’t want to take one step forward, and two steps back. Being known as the Toronto FC of the MLS Western Conference is not a tag the Whitecaps want to be branded with.
Player turnover will provide flexibility, and salary cap relief for the Whitecaps if they can off load expensive contracts. Jay DeMerit will most likely have to take a pay cut. One of Jordan Harvey or Andy O’Brien will have to be sent out and Kenny Miller’s million dollar salary will come into question because he can’t stay healthy. If any new players arrive in Vancouver during the winter you run the risk of playing with fire if you make too many moves. Y.P. Lee is retiring which will provide some cap space.
Vancouver has been able to attract big names like Miller, DeMerit, Reo-Coker, and Y.P. Lee. Any new players will want to know the 411 on who will be calling the shots from the touch-line before they sign with the Whitecaps for 2014.
Watford, England native, Frank Yallop is rumoured to be all set to takeover as manager in Vancouver with insiders suggesting he has all but chosen the wallpaper in his new Gastown office.
Yallop has a resume as long as your arm, and if he is in charge next season his experience coaching in Major League Soccer should be of great benefit for the Whitecaps. Yallop is the odds on favourite, and it will be his job to lose when the Whitecaps make a long suspected managerial manoeuvre early next week.
Notes: Kenny Miller is not with the club at the moment because he is getting his bothersome knee tendonitis looked at in Europe.