Well, hopefully we’ve gotten everything out of our system. The hot takes were sizzling, and we all were guilty of them. The details are still murky, especially with Octavio Zambrano’s dismissal. But the results are in – Zambrano is out as CanMNT coach, John Herdman is in, and the women’s program was left scrambling…sort of.
For most of us, cooler heads have prevailed. We’ve allowed the dust to settle and now we can analyze this with a clearer lense. What could have been a clean and simple decision, was turned into an all out dumpster fire by the CSA. They had two problems – both required two pragmatic solutions. Instead, they tried to kill two birds with one stone.
The CSA had known for a while that Herdman was ultimately going to move on. Most of us figured, and probably even the CSA for that matter, that it would have been after the Women’s World Cup in 2019. Herdman had let the CSA know that he eventually wanted to transition to a different job, more specifically men’s soccer. He was putting a blueprint together to leave the women’s program with a specific succession plan. The reigns were going to be handed over to Kenneth Heiner-Moller, his trusted assistant. The CanWNT knew this was going to unfold over time. It just happened sooner than expected, thus they were blindsided.
What transpired recently was that Herdman was presented with a couple offers to mull over – supposedly one to take over the English Women’s program and one to take charge of an American based professional men’s team. Whether it was an MLS or USL team, we are not sure. Once the CSA got wind of this, they panicked.
In the meantime, The CSA was not happy with how the hiring of Octavio Zambrano was turning out – despite his tenure being merely nine months old. From afar, it appeared that Zambrano was leading the CanMNT in the right direction. The Gold Cup results were promising, despite the talent pool of the tournament being severely watered down, with many teams choosing not to field their best XI. Young players were introduced, and others were convinced to come back home. But under the surface there was worry that he was not taking full responsibility for his position. We all have suspicions on what this was, but that doesn’t matter and we can’t dwell on it. The CSA didn’t do their due diligence in the hire, and they felt they made a big mistake.
Two soccer programs with two problems. Apparently, if you take one of those problems and use it to fix the other problem you will have no problems remaining. Two negatives equal a positive is the new CSA logic.
Now here we are. What can we do about it as Voyageurs? Lots. We can rally behind John Herdman and the CanMNT. While at the same time, we should still hold the CSA accountable and demand transparency, because it still looks like there is much going on that we’re not seeing. John Herdman is a great coach. He is personable, intelligent, and forward thinking. He isn’t to be questioned by us or the players. Yes, he has much to prove. But so should anyone taking over a position in the spotlight with high responsibility.
As far as I’m concerned, the players have much to prove to him, maybe even more so. He is a winner and many of these players are not. Historically, some CanMNT players have criticized and questioned coaching decisions and methods – when in fact they should have looked themselves in the mirror and took full responsibility. In no way should he be questioned because of his previous roles. Hopefully this will not happen with this generation of players. He deserves respect, and time to see through his vision. He has earned that.
We are all smart enough to know that this was a series of mistakes that shouldn’t have happened, and it was made worse by how the CSA handled things. At the same time, we are also smart enough to know that this just might work.
By William Jamieson