Don’t blame Bob Lenarduzzi for Whitecaps woesNovember 1, 2013 at 9:52 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps Season 2013 | 13 Comments
I keep scratching my head when I hear people voicing the sentiment that Bob Lenarduzzi should be pushed out of the Vancouver Whitecaps. I have heard people say that Lenarduzzi is what is holding the Whitecaps back. In particular the notion is that Martin Rennie shares only part of the blame for the poor performance of the team this year, and that the real guy to blame is Bob Lenarduzzi. Some cynics have said that Lenarduzzi fired Rennie only to deflect blame from himself. I think this is all hogwash.
Where is people’s knowledge of history? Bob Lenarduzzi is a winner, and has won championships as a player, as a coach, and as a general manager. Anyone who thinks he does not know what he is doing should give their heads a shake and look at his record: he won the 1979 Soccer Bowl as a player and played a key role in defeating the New York Cosmos in the semi-final; he was named North American Player of the year by the NASL; he played for the Canadian men’s team when it won its first ever spot in the World Cup Finals; he played in the 1986 World Cup finals; he coached the Canadian men’s national team; he coached multiple championship winning teams for the Vancouver 86es during the 86es era; and he won two USL championships during the Whitecaps USL era as president of the Whitecaps.
There is also a historical debt we owe the man. He saved the Whitecaps by finding one of today’s owners, Greg Kerfoot, who bought the team in 2000, bringing it back from the brink of doom. Lenarduzzi’s name and skills were instrumental in getting us an MLS franchise in the first place, and I believe he saved the name of the Whitecaps. Had he let the team die back in 2000 we might be watching an MLS team today owned by the Aquilini brothers playing in a purple kit called the Vancouver Thunderdogs.
While exactly what role Lenarduzzi plays in selecting the squad is unclear, he and his brothers have been instrumental in youth development systems that are starting to bear fruit. This guy knows his stuff.
It is interesting to note that there has always been petty jealousy and resentment of Lenarduzzi in the game around the Lower Mainland soccer community. I believe this is what fuels the current resentment against him too. People in this often small-minded town resent his success and celebrity status (and good looks too!).
If there is a valid criticism of Lenarduzzi it is his inability thus far to find a coach that sticks for the MLS era. I believe he and the Whitecaps were too hasty in firing Teitur Thordarson back in 2011, and letting Tommy Soehn take over for the rest of the season led to awful results. The choice of a rookie coach in Martin Rennie was a calculated risk that did not work out as well as we had hoped. Now the opportunity to get Frank Yallop on board is gone.
However wrong Lenarduzzi’s critics are about blaming him and dismissing his abilities, it is clear the pressure is on him to find the coach that takes us to the next level. If he does not, he will be blamed and I fear he will not be able to keep the dogs at bay.
The writing on the wall seems clear: whatever success Lenarduzzi has had in the past, he must succeed with his choice of the next coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps if he wants to keep his position as President.