Tensions are running high among Whitecaps FC fans these days.
After starting the season with two straight victories, the Blue and White are currently in the middle of a rut that has seen them record only two wins in their last 10 matches, including five losses.
The Southsiders supporters group made themselves heard last month releasing a statement expressing their displeasure towards what they consider to be a complacent front office.
As poor results continue to pile up, the anger among supporters has narrowed in on head coach Carl Robinson.
4 dropped points at home against two very beatable sides that #VWFC outplayed. Those calling for Robbo's head have more ammo.
— Hanson Ho ⚽ 🥌 ⚾ (@bidetofevil) May 17, 2018
Demands for the Welsh Tactician to lose his job continue to mount as many fans contend that getting rid of the manager will, in turn, solve the issues that are currently plaguing the team and that many of these issues have been directly caused by the fifth-year coach.
The hashtag #RobboOut is beginning to pick up steam…
Another Tie at home…. #RobboOut more dropped points at home.
— Whitecaps Scarf (@Caps_Scarf) May 17, 2018
There's a reason why it's called "The Beautiful Game". Unfortunately, ownership and Carl Robinson have no clue as to where that expression comes from. #RobboOut
— InteriaMania (@InteriaMania) May 12, 2018
— Mike McGuire ⭐ (@McGuire_Mike) May 12, 2018
— Fortress of Attitude (@incinarae) May 12, 2018
— Kyle Braun (@KyleBraun) May 12, 2018
So how did it get to this point?
The recent string of results are definitely a big contributor; however, it’s a culmination of frustrations that have been accumulating over the last few years. Here are some of the reasons Whitecaps fans are calling for the axe to be sharpened.
Under Robinson, the Whitecaps have developed an ingrained identity and a clear style of play. They soak up pressure, relinquish possession of the ball, and rely on a rapid forward transition. In short, they are a counter-attacking team.
The Whitecaps rank last in MLS this season in possession, holding the ball at just a 44.1% rate. Robbo’s men held possession for less time than any other team in 2017 and 2016, and ranked second-last in 2015.
Throughout the years, the counter-attacking style of play has yielded mixed results for the ‘Caps. On one hand, they became the best away team in the league over the past three years. On the other hand, despite qualifying to the playoffs in three of the four years of Robinson’s tenure, the Whitecaps have failed to win a two-legged series in the postseason.
A veteran in front of the microphones, Robinson is a savvy interviewee that many fans perceive to demonstrate a lack of candor.
“Quality in the final third” is Robbo’s new “fine lines”. #vwfc
— Dave Hall (@DaveHall111) May 12, 2018
Robbo often refers football as a sport of of “fine lines” when talking about losses. For some, the term has become synonymous with deflection, to avoid taking responsibility for the real reasons for poor results.
“Fine lines” now lives as a banner in the Southsiders’ section, pointed at Robbo.
Fine Lines pic.twitter.com/gEBIVRsS6Q
— Mark Dailey (@markjrdailey) April 28, 2018
Robinson’s style has established clear patterns when it comes to in-game management. For example, the first substitution can often be expected at about the 60th minute of the match.
More importantly, at Robinson’s own admission, sometimes the substitutions have been pre-determined before the match has even started as opposed to being dictated by the needs of the game or the opponent’s play.
— Graham Tooke (@chelskitooke) May 12, 2018
#VWFC Robbo has no clue. Regardless of outcome Robbo has no clue
— Gordon Boyes (@oldelgord) May 12, 2018
As with other sports, soccer managers are often the first ones to be sacrificed when results start to slide. Life for a coach in Major League Soccer is no different.
But a mid-season coaching swap does not guarantee a improvement in the standings.
When looking at the history of MLS teams sacking managers midway through the season, the reality is that only Seattle in 2016 can pride themselves on winning MLS Cup after a change at the helm.
We are roughly one-third into the 2018 MLS season. Despite the bumpy start to the campaign, the Whitecaps find themselves just outside of a playoff spot when looking at their point per game average.
With two-thirds of the season to go, there is still a lot of soccer to be played. If we dip once again into MLS history, we know that as long as a team is still in contention by July, they can put together a strong back end of the year and have a strong playoff performance. The LA Galaxy built a dynasty team operating like that.
There’s only so much a new coach can do as a mid-season replacement. Moreover, the best time to find a new coach is during the MLS offseason, not while coaches are locked into their respective clubs. They could find a coach from another league, of course, but the adaptation period for coaches coming from abroad as a mid-season replacement is potentially disastrous.
This team was built by Robinson, it makes sense for management to let him carry out his plan. Reassess at the end of the year whether the objectives were met or not.
If not, well then it’s time to go.