VANCOUVER, B.C. – A foggy morning at the University of British Columbia fit the mood as the Vancouver Whitecaps returned to practice for the first time since officially finding themselves eliminated from playoff contention over the weekend.
Naturally, head coach Martin Rennie and his future were the big talking points when it came time for media availability, with the man himself pointing out that the rare presence of a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter was surely a bad omen.
“I'm always on the hot seat,” Rennie responded to a reporter from the national broadcaster. “You're only here three times a year. Once when we lose the Canadian [Championship], once when Barry Robson is going, and once when the playoffs are not made. So obviously we're on the hot seat today.
"But generally, I think there's always pressure. Any time you don't make the playoffs, people always look at that as a milestone, but if every coach who didn't make the playoffs [was fired], then it would be nine coaches every year, so that's not realistic.”
Rennie went on to describe the state of the club under his stewardship and how he sees his squad going into the offseason.
“What you've got to look at is: Is the club going forward?” he asked. “Is it getting better? Is it getting stronger? Is there growth? Are there young players coming through? Yeah. All those things are positive.”
While the Whitecaps did miss the playoffs after earning the Western Conference's final playoff spot last year, Rennie pointed out that the team's point total has actually improved, even with one home game still to come. The Scottish tactician suggested it was a case of the conference's other teams improving, rather than his side taking a step backward.
“Some results haven't gone our way, but it's been in a season where the standard's been extremely high,” Rennie said. “Many teams have had really strong years. I think the [Western] Conference has been the strongest it's ever been. The points totals have been the highest they've ever been. Last year, 43 points was enough points to make the playoffs. This year, 50 points wouldn't be, so it's just one of those years where those margins have been very small."
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As for what his future holds, Rennie said he has already had some discussions with club management, but decisions will be made after the season.
“We've talked about it, and I think generally the feedback has been positive,” Rennie said. “But we've always said at the end of the season we'll sit down, and both parties will look at what's going well and what needs to be done better, what would we change if we wanted to change things, and then decide the way forward then.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.