It was with a heavy heart that I had to bid farewell to Edmonton last week. I left behind my fiancé, any chance of 30 degree weather, and, of course, the Eddies. I packed up the relatively few essential possessions I had, tossed the winter tires in the trunk and headed up to a place I used to call my only home, in the land of the midnight sun.
It’s not goodbye for good, but just goodbye for now – a few of us are fortunate enough to do this for a living, but, unfortunately for me, more steady and consistent work must be found, and, while taking nothing away from Wild Rose country, The Yukon does have a way of luring you back.
We hit the road right before the eddies kickoff (due to dad’s busy schedule, who had come along to ensure I didn’t fall asleep on the 24 hour drive), and so we missed that game, but, by all accounts it was a good victory by the Eddies against North Carolina – so perhaps the cries of #MillerOut lit a bit of a fire under the team (if they were even aware?). And sorry, but, “Big win: Miller in” isn’t quite where I sit quite yet. My concerns were not entirely to do with this season, but more the general trend since Miller’s takeover overall. I would say the loss to the Cosmos reinforced that feeling a bit, but that would again be missing the bigger picture, I think.
Do I think he should get the axe tomorrow? No. But, at what point do we say: what does FC Edmonton honestly have to lose? Sure, it could get worse, I will grant you that. But how much worse is there really to get? Like it or not, among the casual sports fans (who we need to at least somewhat win over), there is, most certainly, a prevalent narrative that soccer is boring. Can anyone honestly look me in the eye and tell me that the brand of football CM is bringing us is doing anything at all to combat that narrative?
Look – I understand if you’re winning games with defensive football – especially in a market that’s been hurting for a winner for a while. But the team isn’t evening winning games, and this isn’t yet that market. Sure a 1 – 0 victory is better than a 3 – 2 loss, but is that even the question we should be asking right now? Or, should we be asking if a 3 – 2 loss is better than a 1 – 0 loss, which I would be willing to bet CM has a lot more of than 1 – 0 victories.
You and I will sit through hard fought defensive soccer game after game, because that’s the type of fan we are – and even if CM remains at the helm for another decade of defensive drubbings, we’ll still be tuning in. And even if all my ranting and raving accomplishes is lighting a fire under the bosses rear end (and really trying to think outside the box), I will consider it a success. But, I do feel like the hardcore fans owe it to Fath/Ball to say what needs to be said (whether it’s nice or not) and to help steer the ship in the right direction so that he can get at least some return on investment.
Seriously, what do we have to lose? Especially when you take a look at what’s happening with CanMNT with a fresh start. That’s the difference between playing to win and playing not to lose. They’re having fun.
Okay, I’ll quit beating the horse, but as its not quite dead yet, don’t expect this to be the last time.
Since I’m unable to provide a tactical analysis of the last 2 games (can’t wait until I can record games), I thought I would use this as an opportunity to look forward to the fall season and how I feel the Eddies should approach it.
The beauty of the current NASL set-up is that there is no reason not to go for it. And even if CM feels the current system is the way to go to have the best chance to win, I will support it and hope for the best. It’s been talked about recently, and I think we all agree that if we can get Fordyce back, it’s a complete no-brainer.
And personally I’m not even sure large-scale changes would be the right approach at this point when there is still a chance to win the fall season – it’s if the season starts to look to be slipping away, that I think we might be smart to start talking about now. I’m not saying I’m hoping it will happen, I’m just saying it’s better to be prepared if it does.
I did a quick little calculation that I want to talk about. Nothing crazy, I just took the average age of the FC Edmonton roster – it’s pretty even across the positions:
Defence – 26.0
Midfield – 27.0
Forward – 27.0
Goalkeeper – 27.3
Overall – 26.7
Now, if this turns out to be a winning roster, I have no issue with this. But, I would argue, if this roster struggles, whoever is in charge should be looking at getting younger. There is something infectious about the energy of youth – and that’s not to say it shouldn’t be balanced by experience, but it never hurts (in the long run, that is) to get ahead of the curve and try to invest in the future (especially if, as I said, this season becomes a write-off). And isn’t that what we’re all here for? The long run? For the record, I’m not pointing fingers at anyone in particular and saying they are old or slow, or anything along those lines, just asking the question as to whether “youth” might be an organizational need.
And whether this means signing youth from without or from within, I think, regardless of how this season ends, we should be looking to sign a few less “proven” guys, and a few more guys who still have lots left to prove. The problem with being a proven commodity is that sometimes you won’t quite have the drive as some no name that just wants one shot at making it. This, in turn, can reverberate throughout the team and keep the proven guys on their toes.
Now, I’m prepared to eat my words, but it’s going to take more than a couple victories for me to do it. Should the Eddies rattle off an unbelievable fall season, a decent playoff run or even just a strong second half, perhaps I’ll change my tune to #MillerIn – but until that happens, someone’s gotta keep the kitchen warm – I’m still #MillerOut.
Oh, and if you want to know who I think deserves at least an opportunity with an Interim label attached to it? #WhyNotPaulus