Rennie out as Whitecaps look elsewhereOctober 29, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps Season 2013 | 2 Comments
When Martin Rennie came into Major League Soccer it was his biggest job yet. Prior to his tenure with the Whitecaps, Rennie had only coached lower league football, notably with the Carolina Railhawks of what is now the NASL. The step up was a bit too much for him. While the Whitecaps did improve under his tenure, other teams improved more and leap-frogged over the Whitecaps into the playoffs in the 2013 season.
To his credit Rennie did get the Whitecaps into the playoffs in 2012, but he did so with 43 points in a year in which the Western Conference of MLS was poor overall. This year 51 points were required to get into the playoffs; the Whitecaps got 48. My own feeling is the Whitecaps squad were more than capable of getting 51 points, but the tactical experience and leadership were not there from the coach.
It is true Rennie had some bad luck. Jay DeMerit was lost for most of the season, and by the time he had recovered, the Whitecaps were already at a big disadvantage. The man the club hoped would be a star in midfield, Daigo Kobayashi, turned out to be a dud. Injuries in the centre of defence forced Rennie to blood inexperienced centre backs like Rusin and Mitchell, meaning the team conceded more goals than last year.
I got the sense from watching the Whitecaps over the season that the more senior players such as Miller and Reo-Coker knew more about the game and how it is played than the coach himself. Reo-Coker said as much in praising Real Salt Lake for having a “system” that all of its players knew and could fit in to. There was precious little tactical thought in the Whitecap’s play this year. Too often the players did not seem to know where they were supposed to be and what they were supposed to be doing.
I began shaking my head when the most gifted player in our team, Camilo, got precious little playing time at the beginning of the season. The little Brazilian eventually scored 22 goals, winning the Golden Boot. Had Rennie started our best player from the start, Camilo would have easily won the Golden Boot and we might well have made the playoffs. Surely the coaches’ job is to get the best players on the pitch, but too often Rennie did not seem to know which players were the best players, and when he did play them, he played them out of position. Player morale clearly suffered from it.
Rennie was late in developing the younger talent in the squad as well. Darren Mattocks had a terrible year, and played as though he was not coached at all. Kekuta Manneh eventually found his feet, but again, too late in the season. Sam Adekugbe played his first match in the last game of the season but looked as though he could have played all year. The better form of Russell Teibert seemed to have more to do with the fact Nigel Reo-Coker coached him rather than Martin Rennie. Gershon Koffie seemed to stagnate this year and did not improve as much as he should have.
In the end Rennie got disappointing results from a squad that was capable of more. As Bob Lenarduzzi pointed out, inconsistent results are what killed him as a coach.
Rennie is right to state what he did bring to the team. The Whitecaps got more points, more goals, and won the Cascadia Cup. Progress was made. The team is in better shape than it was when he came in. Sadly for Rennie, the learning curve was too steep and he learned too late to save his job. He needed to take the Whitecaps to the playoffs and he didn’t. Meanwhile the Portland Timbers, who came into MLS at the same time as the Whitecaps, won the Western Conference and came close to winning the MLS Supporter’s Shield.
Even though I was never convinced that Rennie was the right man for the job, he gave his best for the club. He is an intelligent fellow who needs to coach at a lower level more to develop his skills.
I wish Martin Rennie all the best of luck and thank him for giving the Whitecaps his best.