Captain, the ship is sinking!
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.
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!