The Vancouver Whitecaps: What's Next?
Five games to go, eighth place and four points outside of a play-off spot and the Welsh manager that formulated a collaboration of Latin talent has been sacked. The Whitecaps decided that they needed to see how the team performed under the academy director, Craig Dalrymple, before deciding on the future.
I felt Carl Robinson’s time as manager was done with the Whitecaps when they tragically fell to Seattle in the second leg of the second-round play-off game versus Seattle in 2017. His tactics were utterly shambolic as he took a nil-nil draw from BC Place into the Emerald City. Instead of trying to play with impetus and afflict their offensive prowess on the game, they sat back and tried to play for penalties over 90 minutes. They were justifiably punished by an aging, and soon to retire, Clint Dempsey as Seattle proceeded to the final before losing in a classic to Toronto FC.
Post shambolism, President Bob Lenarduzzi gave his full backing to the manager despite a dire performance in the play-offs and the year-end collapse which saw the Whitecaps fall from their Western Conference leading position. I wasn’t overly disappointed with Robinson staying on as manager but more concerned with the lack of an evident plan to build a successful organisation on and off the pitch.
I’m not sure if the Whitecaps had or have a plan for their infrastructure to enable them to build a Championship calibre squad. They don’t seem to have a youth system that produces MLS capable talent, they don’t have a style of play and/or identity that has been embedded over time, they don’t seem to have a transfer strategy to combat their lack of talent being produced in the youth ranks and they seem to have taken the phenomenal group of fans they have for granted by not investing wisely in any of the above.
The scariest part of this juncture in the organisation’s history is that the Whitecaps have approximately $14 million to spend from the sale of Alphonso Davies to Bayern Munich. What’s been indicated is that they will invest that money back into the squad but I’m not sure if they’ve got the capability to invest wisely. Kei Kamara has had a fantastic career but the Whitecaps signed him at 33 years of age with the expectation that he could elevate them - massive pressure on a player way past his prime. They recently signed Marvin Emnes, a journeyman striker who’s 30 years of age. I can’t think of any other notable signings that have had much impact. If history is an indication of the future, don’t hold your breath on the Whitecaps signing anyone notable or impactful this off-season, despite the cash available to them.
My opinion is that they need to start from the ground up. Develop a youth infrastructure that is inclusive of all local youth talent, not just the talent from cash injected backgrounds, develop a scouting network that scours the globe for youth that fit a certain playing profile and are attainable within a certain budget, hire a coach with a vision that’s compatible with the clubs capability and that will remain dedicated to his philosophy, back the manager with a technical director with business acumen and football knowledge and finally, give back to fans who have witnessed one play-off victory since 2011 yet remain steadfast in their support for the club.