• Michael McColl

      Editor

      Michael McColl started "Away From The Numbers" as a printed fanzine in 1989 for his Scottish club East Fife. It became a website in 2003 and added a general football blog in 2009. The focus has always been to mix serious articles with off-beat humour pieces. The Canadian arm of AFTN began in 2009 and is primarily focused on Vancouver Whitecaps.


      Currently a weekly columnist for Metro News Vancouver, Michael has also written for many UK publications including When Saturday Comes, Four Four Two and The Independent.


    • Steve Pandher

      Assistant Editor

      Steve has been a soccer fan since the early days of the 86ers at Swangard Stadium. He started The Whitecaps Beat blog on the instistence of his wife, as she was tired of listening to his ramblings about the club. When he plays, his two positions are goalkeeper and striker, mostly because of the lack of running involved. In addition to the Whitecaps, Steve also updates the play of Canadian players abroad with the @TrueNorthSoccer twitter account.

    • Jay Duke

      Writer

      Growing up as a casual soccer fan, Jay became a fervent supporter after a move to Vancouver and a rise in profile of the Vancouver Whitecaps. Since then, his summer road trips revolve around Cascadia Derbies, and friends weddings are only to be attended if they do not conflict with a Whitecaps match.

      Jay attempts to share his thoughts from the emotional view of a supporter rather than by advanced analytics or number crunching.

    • Aaron Campbell

      Writer

      Aaron Campbell is our new face to the soccer blog scene. He started following the Whitecaps seriously when they joined the MLS and has been hooked ever since. Not afraid to speak his mind and prove he is right in his opinions backing them up with the stats of the game.

      Yeah right. The only reason he goes to games is to get away from his small army of kids that he has populated the Fraser Valley with. One day the kids and wife will catch on!!!

      Supporter of Whitecaps FC and FC Barcelona.
      Follow on twitter @AaCamp81

    • Carl Robinson finally set to be appointed new Whitecaps coach

      They say that patience is a virtue. In that case Carl Robinson is one of the most virtuous men in football. Vancouver Whitecaps are lucky to have such loyalty.

      So loyal in fact that Robinson, with the lease on his house ended, has been living in a Best Western hotel with his stuff in storage whilst he awaited news of who was to become the new Whitecaps head coach.

      His patience, commitment and desire for the job finally reaped just reward when the news broke Friday afternoon that Vancouver Whitecaps were to appoint Carl Robinson their new head coach.

      The news has been confirmed by various media sources and others, but the Whitecaps have yet to confirm the information themselves, although a press conference is expected to take place on Monday.

      The Whitecaps search for a replacement for Martin Rennie has lasted 46 days. During that time, names have been bandied about, there have been frontrunners, reports of offers made and subsequently declined.

      But with their hearts seemingly broken they found their true love right under their noses all along. It was a Christmas miracle and they all lived happily ever after. Hopefully. As we really don't want to be going through all this again in a year's time.

      There is no doubt that Robinson is going to be branded as a second choice by some, or third or fourth. And he is. Let's not shy away from that. But let those that want to make headlines say what they want. The important thing as far as we're concerned is that of the apparent remaining candidates for the job, the Whitecaps have got the right man and made the correct decision.

      They just went about it rather poorly, not helped by more leaks than a rowboat with woodworm.

      By that we mean that of the remaining known candidates - Marsch, Williams, Preki - Robinson was by far the standout choice from that quartet.

      Taking their time is not a bad thing of course. Far from it and much better than jumping in and making a rash, wrong hire.

      But there are questions that do need to be asked. Why could the Caps not land an experienced manager? Why were people not queuing up for the job? Why did they overlook someone of the experience of Stuart Pearce, just because he didn't have it in MLS? What use is a committee if it can't help the manager in the all the quirks of the League?

      Some will simply not understand why the Caps got rid of Martin Rennie, only to replace him with his assistant, and especially after a search lasting over six weeks. With the big names linked to the job, the appointment of Robinson will also be a disappointment to some.

      There's nothing that Carl or the Caps can do about the optics of the whole thing. It is what it is and it is what people want to see it as. Not that that will stop the chatter.

      The important thing is that we now move on, full steam ahead and start building a squad capable of not just making the playoffs next season, but ideally making an impact in it.

      But that should not be the be all and end all in judging Robinson. Fans, media and the owners must be in this for the long haul and look at the future and not just immediate success next season.

      So what will Robinson bring to the job that Rennie didn't. No-one can say for a certainty, as this is Robinson's first head coaching position, after three seasons in MLS as an assistant coach (one with New York and two in Vancouver).

      Sure it's a risk appointing a first time head coach but what is starting to become evident in recent years is that MLS is fast becoming a League for talented young coaches with new, fresh ideas. Not older coaches with experience but often living on past glories.

      Robinson has experience at the top of the game as a player, with 52 caps for Wales at international level. That might not count for much with some detractors, but it should. He's not a noob.

      From what we know of Carl and from what we've seen from his coaching of the reserve sides, the new Whitecaps will be a lot more attacking side and youth will get more of a chance to develop and prove their worth.

      This also won't be Rennieball on the road.

      Robinson has the added benefit of knowing the squad that is left and was consulted about who should be kept on and who should be released, although we still do not know who made the final decisions.

      He has the respect of the current squad, and whilst it's great to see the likes of Camilo and Russell Teibert singing his praises, Robinson now has the tough task of going from being everyone's friend on the coaching team to the hard taskmaster that decides if they play or not and calls them out for their failures. It's not always an easy transition to make, and especially when it's your first full coaching gig.

      But there is no doubt that he has worked very hard with players like Camilo and Teibert and we have seen the results.

      Robinson brings the element of consistency needed and the knowledge of just where the holes in this team lie and what needs to be strengthened.

      Now that the main man is in situ, the next step is to get his assistants in place and we're hoping that both Paul Ritchie and Marius RÝvde will return.

      From previous chats with the three R's, they are high on a number of the Residency talent, both present and recent, and we would expect to see the likes of Ben Fisk, and possibly even New Mexico midfielder Ben McKendry get a chance on the MLS squad, along with the current crop of Marco Bustos, Jackson Farmer and Kianz Froese.

      There is also a good chance we'll see goalkeeper Simon Thomas return to the fold and striker Tommy Heinemann, who recently took himself out of the MLS re-entry draft.

      More pressing of course is what to do with Jay DeMerit. Although the Caps ownership and the executive committee will clearly like DeMerit to stay, the appointment of Robinson by no means makes this a done deal if he is allowed to assemble the squad he wants.

      It's going to be an interesting offseason as Carl Robinson stamps his imprint and authority on the Whitecaps squad.

      Let's hope he is given the time he needs and deserves to make this work. A statement on Monday from the Caps that making the playoffs will not solely be the measuring stick would be a start.

      For me, if we don't make the playoffs, but win the Voyageurs Cup and finally develop some of our young homegrown players into first team regulars, that would be pleasing. I want all three, but making the playoffs cannot be the sole judge and jury or we'll be looking for a lot of new coaches down the years.

      It's not quite a rebuild. It's not quite a demand for instant success. It should be somewhere inbetween. But we do have to see improvements in key areas. Robinson should not, and will not, be given a free ride. He will need to perform.

      The pressure is on but we feel that the 37 year old Welshman is up to the task. We'll soon find out if our faith is justified!

      At least he can unpack his belongings in time for Christmas now.

      Comments 17 Comments
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        I am pleased that things have worked out as they have. Call Robinson Plan B, second choice or Joe Bloggs, in the end, the Whitecaps have an exciting young coach. Now he just needs to be given the opportunity to learn and to grow.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        has Reo-C ever comment on Robinson? it seemed that Reo-C was one of the catalysts of Rennie loosing the locker room...
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Re: Caps youth... I would also hope Carducci get's a shot with the caps only having 1 keeper on the books currently.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        I like Robinson but the committee looks silly as hell now. Fire the coach who improved the team 2 years in a row just to put in his assistant? Nobody of interest was interested in coaching. Oops.

        When we go through a downturn (they happen to all teams, get over it) let's hope they keep him and don't mess their pants (again).
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Hate to be the bearer of obvious news but making the mls playoffs gives the coach a pass on the rest. As much as the committee says they have a list of criteria all will be forgiven for a playoff berth. That is the way it is.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Sorry but he is the caps 3 or 4th choice saying that they would have chosen carl over yallop, kries or bradley is just drinking the Druze koolaid. Once again we hire a rookie with as much MLS experience as Spike the Mascot. The committee and in particular the absentee-media-shy owner kerfoot looks like fools...there is reason why experienced coaches recognized the amateurs who still think they are working from kerfoots basement office and declined...if they miss the playoffs again then the committee will have nowhere to hide ....
      1. Michael McColl's Avatar
        Michael McColl -
        Yeah I re-read what I wrote and probably didn't make a couple of points clear enough, so adding in a couple of extra sentences into it just now, as well as here.

        There shouldn't be anyone saying that Robinson isn't a third or a fourth choice. He clearly is. And if Bradley, Kreis or Yallop had wanted the job they would definitely have gotten it ahead of him and I would think Robinson would understand that.

        From those that were left - Marsch, Williams, Preki - Robinson was my standout candidate. Actually I personally would have wanted him instead of Bradley, who I simply don't rate, and I know how crazy that sounds! I would have been happy with Kinnear, who many others wouldn't be.

        I would also have preferred someone with more experience but still quite young, as this was such an important hire. Fact is, we couldn't land such a person.

        There are a lot of questions that do need to be asked.

        Why could the Caps not attract anyone experienced? Why did they pass over someone with international experience like Stuart Pearce just because he hadn't been in MLS? I mean, what use is a committee to help a manager if they can't help him in that stuff he doesn't understand?

        And sure if Robbo makes the playoffs, whether they win the V-Cup or develop youth will all be forgotten. But the new coach has to have the pressure removed that it has to be the playoffs or nothing or else we're back here next year.
      1. Michael McColl's Avatar
        Michael McColl -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        Re: Caps youth... I would also hope Carducci get's a shot with the caps only having 1 keeper on the books currently.
        I think there's still a good chance that he will. He'll definitely be training with first team if nothing else.


        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        has Reo-C ever comment on Robinson? it seemed that Reo-C was one of the catalysts of Rennie loosing the locker room...
        Interesting question and one which I don't know answer to. Doesn't ring any bells with me that he has.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Great for Carl, sometimes the hunger to be great will propel you further, might be so for Carl.
        Haynes will get looked at too I bet. I thought he showed great at the WC.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Reading about Robinson living in a motel right now, because the lease expired on his house and the Caps board was taking so long to make a decision. I'm not opposed to a board making decisions, but they're coming off as incompetent on so many levels, and this simply comes off as...classless.
      1. Peter's Avatar
        Peter -
        Hearing about living out of a hotel puts such a human spin on the story which I certainly overlooked a bit. I am very disappointed about the Whitecaps and how unprofessional this look for a new manager has been.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        I am pleased with the hiring of Robinson. He must be better than Rennie. I was ready to give Rennie a free ride to the airport provided he didn't speak to me the way he spoke to the media, talking allot but not saying anything. I suspect his approach with the players was the same. How long can one listen to that crap before puking (or not trying). Being direct was not a charm Rennie possessed. Robinson's experience both as a player and after his playing career is just what this team needs. When the Caps defeat Chicago the name Yallop will no longer be mentioned. The hiring nonsense of the "Committee" will also be a thing of the past. Things are looking up, bring on the Red Bulls!
      1. Jim's Avatar
        Jim -
        Man, I am tired of people complaining about the "Committee"! They give the manager free rein up to a certain dollar limit. They vet only the biggest contracts, just like an NHL ownership group would. Sounds prudent to me !
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        But what else is the "committee" doing and responsible for? Are they in charge of a scouting budget, which provides the manager with the information he might need to make a decision on a new player? Are they charge of the travel budget? The league allows a certain number charter flights a year, the Whitecaps have some of the biggest trips in the league, and yet the team rarely (if ever) uses charter flights, so why not? I'm not opposed to the idea of a committee reviewing things for the team, but there seems to be little to no accountability with this group, and I think that's the source of frustration among fans. I don't think that's an unfair complaint.
      1. Brenton's Avatar
        Brenton -
        When you write "there seems to be no accountability", to whom do you mean? You're talking about the owners - should there be some owners oversight President? The majority shareholder is part of this "committee". He should be accountable to whom, exactly?
      1. Brenton's Avatar
        Brenton -
        Yah, living out of a motel sucks, but what exactly was the FO supposed to do? Make one of the biggest decisions in team history based on one guy living out of a suitcase?
      1. Michael McColl's Avatar
        Michael McColl -
        As I've said before, I have no problem with the committee being like your usual BoD back in the UK.

        I would have a problem if they started interfering into team matters such as player selection, tactics, non DP signings and transfers.

        There's no proof they are. They categorically deny it. But despite all that, I do have concerns that their influence may be deeper reaching that they are saying.

        Monday's presser is going to be interesting to see whether the media want to focus on the future or pick over the process. I think we know it'll be the latter.

        As Brenton said elsewhere, questions do need to be asked and the issue scrutinised, but not at the presser to welcome the new coach and make him feel awkward.
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