Cap­tain, the ship is sink­ing!

Jamaica Gleaner - - TUESDAY SPORTS -

SOME SE­RI­OUS hurt must have taken place for many-time na­tional foot­ball coach, Carl Brown, to refuse the call to once again res­cue the Reg­gae Boyz in a time of cri­sis; and to pro­ceed to make the pro­nounce­ment – ev­i­dently aimed at the Ja­maica Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion (JFF) and its cur­rent lead­er­ship – quote: “I want to have noth­ing to do with them again.”

Brown has been the prover­bial safety valve for the JFF over the last two decades, an­swer­ing sim­i­lar calls some five times be­fore. But even those with reser­va­tions about his choice for stint num­ber six, if Brown was ac­tu­ally of­fered US$100 per day to be the head coach of the na­tional team even on a short-term ba­sis – com­pounded by the in­sen­si­tive and im­per­sonal way the JFF sought to force this ar­range­ment onto the vet­eran coach – one can un­der­stand Brown’s anger.

Coach Brown’s de­ci­sion to refuse the of­fer on a point of prin­ci­ple must be com­mended.

Know­ing the kind of ded­i­cated ser­vant he has been to Ja­maica’s foot­ball for over four decades, it must have been dif­fi­cult for him to turn his back with what ap­pears to be such bit­ter­ness and ab­so­lute fi­nal­ity.

Brown’s no doubt tough and painful de­ci­sion now leaves us with se­cond choice, Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whit­more, with the prover­bial ‘bas­ket to carry the wa­ter’, set to take charge of the team for the two must-win Caribbean Cup as­sign­ments against Suri­name and Guyana.

With Tappa back at the helm in such short or­der, vivid mem­o­ries of his mys­te­ri­ous, some­times baffling, team se­lec­tions and puz­zling tac­ti­cal de­ci­sions are im­me­di­ately rekin­dled.

Whit­more was one of the most skil­ful and cre­ative players in the his­tory of Ja­maican foot­ball, yet he in­ex­pli­ca­bly and adamantly re­fused to in­clude any cre­ative players in his teams.

IN­SPI­RA­TIONAL FORCE

One got the sense that as a coach, Whit­more brought more of an in­spi­ra­tional dy­namic to the fore by virtue of his rep­u­ta­tion and achieve­ments of a player and hero of rel­a­tively mod­ern vin­tage.

It is worth re­mem­ber­ing that Whit­more was re­moved as the na­tional se­nior coach, as well as the na­tional Un­der-20 coach, within a twoyear span.

The task of put­ting the team to­gether for these two big as­sign­ments within two weeks will re­quire pre­ci­sion and tac­ti­cal aplomb. There will be pre­cious lit­tle time to or­gan­ise and strate­gise chem­istry and un­der­stand­ing among this mix of players drawn from United States and Ja­maica.

The big ques­tion that will be an­swered in a mat­ter of days is: Is Whit­more up for this task?

The cur­rent sce­nario has a feel of im­mi­nent dis­as­ter writ­ten all over it, adding to the mul­ti­ple crises of an ab­sence of a de­fined phi­los­o­phy and an over­all di­rec­tion for the foot­ball, while the JFF en­dures the em­bar­rass­ment of be­ing caught with their pants down as it re­lates to the now in­fa­mous Win­fred Schäfer con­tract and with all but the Un­der-17 boys’ team out of con­tention for in­ter­na­tional glory.

I openly shouted the opin­ion re­cently that it was hard to en­vis­age things get­ting any worse for Ja­maica’s foot­ball.

One eru­dite col­league was quick to re­mind me that things ac­tu­ally could get worse in a mat­ter of days if ei­ther Suri­name or Guyana knocks Ja­maica out of the Caribbean Cup and ef­fec­tively out of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Tak­ing the philo­soph­i­cal way, maybe it is nec­es­sary for things to get even worse be­fore they get any bet­ter, and if what it takes for us to set the foot­ball on the right tra­jec­tory is for things to get even worse, then by all means, let us get knocked out of the Caribbean Cup and the Gold Cup.

The last thing we need at this point is another Band-Aid so­lu­tion, or another jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for a false sense of se­cu­rity.

So while pos­si­ble dis­as­ter looms in the form of Suri­name or Guyana in the short run, it might very well be a bless­ing in dis­guise for that un­think­able worse to un­fold as we con­tinue to send out the SOS call loud and clear ... CAP­TAIN THE SHIP IS SINK­ING, AND IT IS SINK­ING FAST!

WHIT­MORE

BUR­RELL

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