There’s lots of great stuff here from Marc Weber at The Province as we all look at new Vancouver Whitecaps manager Carl Robinson and some intriguing personnel decisions ahead.
(In fact, all the personnel choices ahead, involving quite a few talented individuals, serves to underscore why the club jettisoned Martin Rennie; the roster certainly looks talented enough to achieve more than the Scotsman did during his days in charge around BC Place).
So the key choices ahead for Robinson and Whitecaps management are about Jay DeMerit, Darren Mattocks, Kenny Miller, Nigel Reo-Coker. Robinson had interesting things to say about all, as diligently transcribed in the The Province blog.
The key one to me is DeMerit, as getting the defense right around BC Place is so important. But it’s not just the defense when you talk about an inspirational figure such as DeMerit; this is also about shaping the locker room and team personality, about developing the right kind of heart to go with all the talent around BC Place.
Assuming DeMerit comes back strong from that Achilles tear that did so much to tear apart Vancouver’s 2013 season (and there’s no evidence that he cannot), having a guy like that means so much more than the sum of his on-field contributions.
What Robinson said:
I’ll be touching base with Jay in the next two days because he’s an important piece of the club moving forward. I’ve got a lot of respect for Jay. He’s a leader on and off the field. It’s important now to make those key decisions, and Jay’s a key decision. I think everyone who knows Jay knows he’s an exceptional leader on and off the field and he’s been a big part of this club for the first three years. He’s someone I’d like to bring back. I think that (salary) will play into it. Obviously we’re in a salary cap league. But I want good players.”
So, this is hardly a slam dunk. In guys like Andy O’Brien, Johnny Leveron and Carlyle Mitchell, the Whitecaps already have a good blend of experience and talented youth. Still, if the club can get DeMerit to take 80 cents on the dollar, they’d be foolish not to keep the guy around.
Show me a team with a wobbly locker room, I’ll show you a team that doesn’t have a DeMerit, a team that doesn’t understand the value of a unified front and accountability inside the room. In a league of parity, where talent it roughly the same, chemistry means everything.