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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.
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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 Røvde 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.
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