Nigel Reo-Coker a calculated risk for the Vancouver Whitecaps

February 18, 2013 at 12:02 am | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2013 | 5 Comments

Watching the Vancouver Whitecaps buy talent from Europe since 2011 has been a bit of a comedy, or even perhaps a tragedy, depending on your outlook. The Whitecaps have signed an odd collection of misfits, outsiders and pure flops. Mustapha Jarju was a complete flop, proving that whatever ranking Major League Soccer has in world football, it is higher than the Belgian second division. Kenny Miller demonstrated if you were a struggling striker in the English Championship you will be a struggling striker in MLS. Barry Robson proved an aging midfielder who can hold his own in the English Championship can also hold his own in MLS. My view is that the better MLS clubs play at the level of the English Championship and the poorer ones play at the level of League one in England.

Nigel Reo-Coker last played for Ipswich Town in the English championship. He signed a short term deal and left the club when they would not offer him a long term deal. Wikipedia had him moving to Hartlepool or Crewe in League one.

Frankly, Reo-Coker has been drifting downwards in his career from being a starter in English Premier league sides to a guy who could not command a long term contract from a Championship side. It is rather odd from a player who should be in the peak of his career at 28 years of age.

It has been a precipitous drop for a player who, as a youngster, commanded 23 England under 21 caps. His move from Wimbledon to West Ham United as a young player was heralded as a master stroke by West Ham, as Reo-Coker was seen as a future star. When he moved from West Ham to Aston Villa, a perennial Premiership powerhouse (notwithstanding their recent poor form), it was a move of a guy whose career was on the rise. After four years at Villa, his contract expired. His time at Villa was marked by a training ground bust up with Manager Martin O’Neill. His move to Bolton when his Villa contract expired came in a season when Bolton were relegated. When Bolton were relegated, Reo-Coker triggered a relegation provision in his contract. His career has been in downward drift ever since and needs a major jump-start.

Reo-Coker is an enigma, to say the least. It is very difficult to reconcile the fact that he could be a star as a youngster, serve as captain for all three premiership clubs he played for and then suddenly, at age 28, still prime time for a footballer, find himself struggling to get a decent contract in the English Championship. Something is not quite right here.

Reo-Coker and his agent have hit an impasse in England and appear to want to re-invent the player in another league. It is a chance for Reo-Coker to re-build his career. Martin Rennie appears to have convinced Reo-Coker that he can help him do this playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps. It is a calculated risk. The Whitecaps are aware of this and have wisely decided not to sign him to a designated player contract as they mistakenly did with Mustapha Jarju.

I am in favour of the move for Reo-Coker. While I see it as a risk, If Rennie can get Reo-Coker’s footballing confidence working again, we will have a footballer who is still in prime-time and has significant experience of playing football at the highest levels of the game. Not only that, if his mind is right, Reo-Coker is capable of being a leader in the squad. Again, his managers at West Ham, Aston Villa and Bolton all saw fit to make him captain of their teams for significant periods.

Reo-Coker’s precipitous fall in form recently will be a huge test of Martin Rennie’s man-management skills. If Rennie succeeds in getting the best out of him, we will have made a fantastic signing for the team. If Rennie cannot turn him around, yet another flop from Europe will further stain the team and shake the confidence of the Whitecaps’ fan base.

I say it is worth the risk. Lets hope we get a news conference tomorrow announcing that Nigel Reo-Coker is a Vancouver Whitecap.



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  1. There’s no doubt that the Caps still need some shoring up at midfield, and on the surface a 28-year-old who not so long ago played in the Premiership does look enticing. I’m not sure that the accompanying baggage is worth the risk though. It’s a very smart move not to offer the DP and a boatload of cash, but coming off what was a very disjointed season last year, I hope the Caps have thought very carefully about the risks and distractions that a bad choice could bring. I think the Caps have some excellent tools at hand – more than last year – and wouldn’t want to see them offset by a “project” at this stage.

  2. I am reluctant to try anymore rejects from The UK or Scotland (Ireland maybe). By the way Robson proved he could NOT hold his own in the MLS . typo in your article. MLS showed how out of shape he was.

    • If you are unwilling to take rejects of the epl and spl, then there is no way you should be willing to take rejects from the airtricity league!
      secondly, Robson’s stats were almost identical to those of Dane Richards and everybody loved him. also if you pay attention you will notice that Jay demerit, barks as his teammates just as much as Robson did. the only difference is that demerit doesn’t use extravagant arm gestures. you have no idea what Robson was shouting, so don’t judge based on the fact that he’s expressive.

      • Robson:

        3 Goals, 2 Assists; 5 pts in 1421 mins played, Scoring%: 9.4


        3 Goals, 1 Assist; 4 pts in 920 mins plays, Scoring%: 23.1

        I know which player I’d want on my side, and he doesn’t eat haggis.

      • Dane Richards never gave up running like Robson …and was not an asshole ( body language my friend). also i believe i said rejects from the UK or Scotland (countries) not the leagues.

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