Whitecaps in crisis as Robson departs

January 21, 2013 at 10:18 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2013 | 1 Comment

When the Vancouver Whitecaps showed up for their first training session this morning, one of the players whose red hair might make him stand out in the fog was not there. Barry Robson had failed to show. Strangely enough, coach Martin Rennie seemed to either pretend he did not know what was going on or had absolutely no idea, when he was seen on the news saying “I am sure he will show up”.

Mr sunshine is gone...
(photo Monique L.)

Mr sunshine is gone…
(photo Monique L.)

He didn’t, and Robson is now on his way back to Great Britain, having put his time with the Vancouver Whitecaps behind him. It might be an occasion for saying “thanks for nothing, pal”, but for one fact: Barry Robson was our best midfielder. This is not saying much in what is a very shallow midfield pool. Now that Robson is gone, a bad situation has gotten worse. We have athletes to play in midfield, but no experience and even less creative skill. What is the chance the Whitecaps will find a good midfielder with six weeks to go before kickoff?

Not that Robson set Vancouver on fire with his football skills. In fact, he was quite prosaic, though he could hit the back of the net (he scored 3) and could provide balls for others to score (he had 2 assists). He had experience of football at a high level, which is one of the crucial components of a football club’s success.

What Robson will be remembered most for, unfortunately, is his miserable attitude. Canadians prefer the quiet player who leads by example. Robson was the opposite, frequently barking at his teammates in complaint, and whining at supposed non-calls of referees. He will be remembered for waving his arms in the air and complaining as he watched the play go in the other direction, rather than getting on with it, chasing the ball down and defending. The truth is he was not fit enough to catch up with the play.

The fact is Robson showed up unfit, and the heat and travel must have seemed like hell for a 34 year old veteran with very pale skin. Robson is the classic case of the overseas player who thinks he is going to come over here and dominate, only to find he can barely keep up with the game. The fact is, Robson did very little while he was here to live up to his reputation.

The team's fortunes plummeted when Robson came along, although in his defence other changes to the roster gave him a lesser team to play with. Had Robson been added to the squad containing Chiumiento, Hassli and Le Toux, we would have had a hell of a team that would have been a real contender. All in all, the whole Robson experience was a very mediocre one, and as it turns out it was a poor marriage. Bob Lenarduzzi did not look that unhappy Robson was gone when interviewed.

All of this looks very bad on the Whitecaps. The LA Galaxy are in the process of signing up Frank Lampard, and we can’t hold on to Barry Robson. Rather than starting up with a solid foundation for the 2013 season, the foundation is crumbling from the outset.

All of this points towards an organization in crisis which is still struggling and still learning to cope with life in Major League Soccer. One thing is for sure, the owners of the Whitecaps need to take decisive action and sign some good players in very short order. We probably won’t see them until mid season, which was the case with Miller and Robson. The prospect of having more guys show up out of shape in mid season with attitude problems again hardly whets the appetite for 2013 Whitecaps football…

Relying on last years squad, which was one of the poorest in the league in the second half of the 2011 season even with Barry Robson, will mean we won't have a hope of making the playoffs in 2013.

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  1. I am not quite sure how you clear the yawning chasm from Robson’s departure to gloom, despondency and chaos in one quantum leap. Nor do I agree with you that the return of Hassli and Le Toux would constitute a fix for the problems that you perceive the Whitecaps to have as this season slowly gets under way.. We saw far too much wasted ball possession from Le Toux, a feeling apparently shared by several other MLS managers and a bit too much lagging and strolling behind the play from a largely ineffective but charismatic Eric Hassli to believe that either of these options would improve the Whitecaps. Davide Chiumiento may be a more creative player than many others but his return would also be considered by many, myself amongst them, as a retrograde step. As for bringing in big name superbucks superstars to fill the void, the Whitecaps (and all but one or two other MLS franchises) don’t have either the sort of financial clout or big market star appeal to make such a purchase viable. Yet. The logical alternative to buying success, as per the New York Yankees, the Miami Heat and, to a bit of a lesser degree, several NHL franchises (New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers), is to develop it from within. Young players are the lifeblood of any mid-level franchise and the Whitecaps are developing several very fine youngsters who, in time, will fill the side’s needs in a fiscally responsible way. Critically, playing time has to be found for the developing players.Those for whom places cannot be found will surely be moved to enhance the organization’s finances which enables the management to strengthen the squad from outside if required. Considering the forward/midfield candidates alone names such as Salgado, Koffie, Tiebert, Alderson, Clarke, Hurtado and Manneh stand-out as young players with tons of potential to watch out for in the coming seasons. Returnees Rochat, Sanvezzo, Watson, Davidson and Klazura are sericeable if not spectacular stand-ins whilst the youngsters develop. In addition, in camp there are a number of intriguing trialists who could make a mark not to mention players who the management are considering signing and may appear early in the piece. So, I don’t share your evaluation that chaos reigns. I choose to be a glass half full spectator whilst you have clearly chosen the other option. I see opportunity. You see chaos. In the end, only time will tell which of us is taking the right approach and, with any luck, VWFC will provide some sterling entertainment while we wait for the answers.


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