Sacking Mr Whitmore would be a bad idea at this timeFriday, November 19, 2021
Those who follow football are accustomed to coaches losing their jobs with immediate effect — be it at top professional clubs or the international level.
At the time of writing, this newspaper had heard no confirmation of persistent reports that Mr Theodore Whitmore, head coach of Jamaica's Reggae Boyz, is close to being dismissed.
We hear that the Jamaica Football Federation's (JFF's) Technical Committee met following the Reggae Boyz's battling 1-1 draw with the United States in their Concacaf World Cup qualifier at the National Stadium on Tuesday.
Such meetings happen regularly, we are told. Unconfirmed reports are that from the latest meeting came a recommendation for the dismissal of Mr Whitmore. A final decision would have to be taken by the JFF executive headed by President Mr Michael Ricketts.
We are aware that it is becoming increasingly difficult for Jamaica — currently in sixth place with just seven points after eight games — to make it to next year's Fifa World Cup in Qatar.
The top three teams in the eight-team qualifiers will make it automatically. A fourth-placed team must bid to qualify by way of a play-off with an aspirant from another confederation.
We disagree with any suggestion that Mr Whitmore's dismissal would be appropriate at this time.
After a poor start to their campaign, with a fighting away defeat to Mexico in that country, and a horrible performance, losing 0-3 to Panama in Kingston, the Reggae Boyz have improved markedly.
Their 2-0 away win against Honduras in October and 1-1 draw in San Salvador late last week suggested a team on the improve.
More to the point, the Jamaicans were impressive against the highly talented Americans on Tuesday night. Most experts agree that the Reggae Boyz were denied a potential winner late in the game because of an officiating error.
Available evidence suggests that the team is gelling under Mr Whitmore's guidance. With just six qualifiers remaining, we think it would be potentially self-defeating to ask someone else to take over now.
We urge the JFF executive to reject any recommendation for the coach's dismissal at this time.
Currently, Canada, the only unbeaten team, are in first place with 16 points. United States have 15 and Mexico are third with 14. Panama also have 14 points but trail the Mexicans on goal difference.
Costa Rica are fifth with nine points, ahead of the Jamaicans in sixth, while El Salvador are seventh with six and Honduras last with three points.
The situation means that for the Reggae Boyz to have a realistic chance of qualifying they will have to win most of their remaining six games. They must strive not to lose any. At the same time, the hope will be that other results involving rivals end up favouring Jamaica's cause.
The good news is that four of Jamaica's remaining games are at home, including the next against Mexico in late January. A relaxation in COVID-19 restrictions allowed a small number of vaccinated fans to enter the National Stadium for Tuesday night's fascinating tussle against the USA. Going forward, the hope will be that there will be much larger home crowds to provide that celebrated '12th man'.
The Reggae Boyz need to know that Jamaicans have their back.