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Downward spiral: Fans criticize, are under criticism in Vancouver

martin rennie

Fans express concerns about struggling team. Writer tells fans to check themselves. Player tacitly endorses writer’s shot at supporters.

Can you tell the Vancouver season’s starting to spiral downward?

Thankfully, as Marc Weber (writer for The Province in Vancouver) points out, the Whitecaps are still in prime position to secure their first Major League Soccer playoff spot. Until then, though, expect fans to continue to question what Weber calls “this whole Scottish experiment.”

Here’s a summary of the issues, as Weber outlines them: Last year, Whitecaps supporters criticized the organization for their lack of patience with original head coach Teitur Thordarson, who lasted only 12 games. Now, as Weber sees it, the fans lack patience with Martin Rennie’s mid-season shake up. Hypocrisy anyone?

Jay DeMerit seems to agree, retweeting Weber’s piece to his 32,650 followers:

Screen shot 2012-08-29 at 1.34.58 PM

Weber makes a number of good, perspective-providing points about what Vancouver’s accomplished this season, though the contention that fans are being hypocritical may be a bit strong. Vancouver fans may not be pro-patience as much as they are anti-bad ideas, with last year’s call for patience their justification for seeing Thordarson’s dismissal as a poor choice. This year, they may not be willing to wait out the struggles of Kenny Miller and (to a lesser extent) Barry Robson because they see those signings as part of a flawed process.

It’s not an original thought - the idea that some in the league are overpaying for Scottish talent. It’s no secret that the Scottish Premier League is not what it once was, and when you see players like Miller and Portland’s Kris Boyd have a dramatic drop off in goal scoring when moving from the SPL to places like the English Championship and Turkey, it doesn’t take John Nash to figure out Scotland may not be the best place to mine designated players.

That argument may not be absolute, but it’s certainly viable, and it’s most likely why Vancouver fans aren’t taking a wait-and-see approach with Miller and Robson. Those players may still come off and be productive (Robson certainly has had a series of encouraging moments), but the process is flawed. When we see coaches and executives (many who have links to Scotland) treat products from that league as if the circuit was as strong as it was 20 years ago, it begs fan skepticism.

Perhaps Whitecaps’ fans should be a little more patient, but in the face of a big downturn in results, criticism is not uncalled for. It may not be right, but it’s fair.

And it’s not necessarily hypocritical. Vancouver’s fans may merely be anti-bad idea, and based on the what the SPL’s products have done outside of Scotland (particularly, Miller and Boyd), fans are justified in their skepticism.