Knee-jerk reactions can’t help football
SO, Captain Horace Burrell, the president of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), has sent the head coach on his way because of yet another seemingly doomed senior men's World Cup bid.
This time, the victim is Mr Theodore Whitmore, a standout player at the 1998 World Cup Finals in France, who transitioned into the job full time in 2009. This latest sacking was the third in four cycles under Captain Burrell's leadership. Only Brazilian, Mr Rene Simoes, in his 'first dispensation', was spared the Captain's wrath after successfully guiding the Reggae Boyz to the 1998 Finals — the first such achievement in the nation's history.
We do not grieve for Mr Whitmore. As he said at a post-match interview in Honduras on Tuesday night, "if you are hired, then you can be fired". He fully understands that in today's results-driven environment, especially at the professional level, coaching permanence is never guaranteed.
But, we have to ask: Is the Jamaican football programme really operating at First-World standards in terms of operations and administration? The answe, we believe, is a robust no.
So then, should there be convenient utilisation of First-World measurements to assess on-field results?
Having dismissed Mr Clovis de Oliveira, after a failed bid in 2001, and then Mr Simoes in 2008 following his 'second dispensation', it is our view that Captain Burrell and his think tank should have realised by now that this merciless dismissal of coaches after failed World Cup bids is not the solution to our problems. Rather, it is merely a band-aid treatment to a much bigger issue — commercial agendas, as important as they might be, notwithstanding.
This newspaper humbly submits that the problems of Jamaica's football are many and varied, and they will not be solved overnight. In fact, it was exactly two weeks ago that we used this space to warn all and sundry that if the JFF was truly desirous of qualifying for the World Cup Finals in Brazil next summer, then their operatives should pay keen attention to details, both on and off the field of play.
We posited then that it should be much easier to fix off-the-field details than the more technical on-field elements.
The undeniable truth is that our preparation heading into the recent three crucial World Cup Qualifiers inside eight days — against Mexico and the United States in Kingston and Honduras away — was extremely poor.
Benjamin Franklin's famous quote, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail" came readily to mind.
That was exactly what we saw coming. Lest we forget, Mexico assembled their squad on May 23, and the USA kicked off their preparation on May 26, with both teams organising high-quality friendly internationals. Mexico engaged African champions Nigeria on May 31, while the US played against Belgium on May 29, before challenging Germany on June 2.
While these teams toiled, some of the Jamaicans were enjoying holidays, before joining camp on May 31, merely four days ahead of the game against Mexico.
It should, therefore, have come as no surprise when Jamaica's players wilted under the unrelenting pressure from their opponents, which proved superior in ability, physical conditioning, and mental capacity.
We have said in this space many times that Jamaica has no divine right to qualify for any FIFA World Cup tournament. To begin with, our resources pale significantly when compared to others in the CONCACAF region, and our football traditions are weak compared to others.
However, if there is proper organisation and focus much can be achieved. There needs to be the collective will to change the current structure, mentality and culture of football, as it exists in Jamaica today, if we are going to change our fortunes anytime soon.