Jump to content

Ben Knight: One Problem at a Time


Guest Jeffery S.

Recommended Posts

Guest Jeffery S.

Another interesting one from Ben on Sportsnet, once again I think close to where many of us sit:

http://www.sportsnet.ca/soccer/columnist.jsp?content=20070523_155734_5856

ONE PROBLEM AT A TIME

(May 23)

The CSA is still woefully inefficient, but Canada gets a good soccer coach.

At least, and at last, we got a coach.

Dale Mitchell, Canadian World Cup veteran and the guiding hand behind our daring, exciting under-20 squad, has been named head coach of our national men's soccer team - almost one year after Frank Yallop abandoned ship to scoot back to MLS with the struggling Los Angeles Galaxy.

Along the way, the Canadian Soccer Association has richly earned heavy doses of scorn, from fans, media and within its own muddled ranks. About the only good thing to come out of this strange and dreadfully drawn-out process, filled with rumour, false starts, arrogance and accusations, is …

They got the right man for the job.

Not that the feeling is unanimous. Anger continues to smoulder on all fronts that an international coach with World Cup qualification experience - Rene Simoes of Brazil, most prominently - couldn't be tempted north to guide our lads to glory. But I was a Mitchell man from the start, even though it would have been impossible for him to step into the job when Yallop decamped last summer.

I'll get to why in a minute. It's more important, off the top, to separate Mitchell from the process that put him here, because much of the loud and obvious frustration his hiring has sparked across the land really has more to do with the muddle than the man.

Let's be clear: Hiring a coach and fixing the CSA are two very different tasks. They were never going to be accomplished at the same time.

Simoes, best known for qualifying Jamaica for World Cup '98, was apparently the choice of CSA president Colin Linford. The two men even went so far as to agree on a contract, but the deal was subsequently shot down by the CSA board of directors. That wasted the better part of a year.

Three possibilities here, and they all raise concerns:

- Simoes was the right coach, but he was too expensive. This is a very popular theory, but it raises an important question no one is answering so far - what, exactly, will the CSA do now to lobby for more money so this doesn't have to happen again in the future?

- Simoes was the wrong coach. If so, why did Linford back him, and why was the process allowed to drag on until Canada was forced to enter next month's all-important CONCACAF Gold Cup under the ongoing command of interim coach Stephen Hart?

- Simoes was iced for purely political reasons. This is the long-shot horse in the race, but we're deep into the backstretch and it is still gamely in the running. Did some of the provincial soccer governing bodies vote against Simoes as a way of sending a message to Linford? If so, how dare all involved put their own petty politics so far ahead of the ultimate goal of qualifying Canada for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa?

We need answers, people. We'll know we're getting somewhere if we actually, accidentally, get some.

Rene Simoes was not a slam-dunk for the Canada coaching job. His critics dismiss him as a clown, and question his long-term commitment. But I'm sure if you asked him, the rejected Brazilian tactician would have a choice thing or six to say about the commitment of the CSA.

Canada remains, as the 2010 World Cup qualifying run dawns, an underfunded underdog with questionable political leadership. And Dale Mitchell, I humbly submit, is the perfect choice to deal with all of this. He's been there, as a player. As coach of the Canadian under-20 team for the upcoming youth World Cup, he has guided the development of an exciting crop of young and rising soccer talent. Who better to take the reins, as those same young men move up to claim their rightful places in the national team?

I'm not saying an international hired-gun coach wouldn't be able to understand and adjust to the odd realities of Canadian soccer. But he might be surprised by them a bit too often. Mitchell will certainly face needless setbacks along the way, but he's going to be superbly well-equipped to roll with the punches, adjust and keep moving forward.

To qualify for South Africa, Canada will have to play scrappy, disciplined, opportunistic soccer. Our Under-20s, under Mitchell, do this nicely - as anyone who saw their recent 2-1 loss to Argentina at BMO Field in Toronto will surely attest.

Canada is a low-budget team with limited resources at all levels - talent, coaching, stadiums, money. Mitchell, at least, is well into his third decade of working within the system, and understands how the game is played - on and off the field.

Also, for all the outcry over the year-long delay, Mitchell really could not have been hired any sooner. When all your hopes are riding on your Under-20s, and you just happen to be hosting their World Cup this summer, you cannot relieve them of a coach who has already proved he is doing a superb job preparing them, for this World Cup and - hope, hope! - for future ones.

And so Stephen Hart will guide Canada in the Gold Cup, and then step down to become Mitchell's assistant for the World Cup qualifying run. Mitchell's critics are all over this, saying the new coach should have been in place ages ago. I absolutely agree with them. But it didn't happen. The CSA couldn't pull it off. That's appalling, but the happy, unintended accident of it all is that Canada is emerging from this galactic gong-ringer of a backroom bust-up with - very possibly - the ideal man in the job.

Does Mitchell lack coaching experience at this level? Yes. Could the CSA actually manage to find, sign and appoint a better man? No.

Canadian soccer fans the world over have good cause to be concerned about - and annoyed with - the CSA. But none of that is Dale Mitchell's fault. He's the coach now, right or wrong, and he brings some huge plusses. Let's focus on those.

Fixing the CSA is a bigger job, for another day.

Onward!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fair, rational view of the current situation.

My only argument in this article:

Could the CSA actually manage to find, sign and appoint a better man? No.

I think they could, but that horse has been beaten over and over...

Hey Ben, enjoyed watching the match last night with you!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

quote:Originally posted by jpg75

Fair, rational view of the current situation.

My only argument in this article:

Could the CSA actually manage to find, sign and appoint a better man? No.

I think they could, but that horse has been beaten over and over...

Hey Ben, enjoyed watching the match last night with you!

Could the CSA afford to hire a better man?

db

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest speedmonk42

Great article Ben.

I strongly agree with the idea that if we get any answers, even accidentally, we are making some progress towards change.

I want, actually demand, the process be explained.

This is neither an argument for/against Mitchell or Simeoes, though it unfortunately sounds like it is against Michell. It is not, and your article puts that in a good context.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...