Week after week, Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie has been taking punches for his team.
After Saturday night’s 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake, in which the Scottish tactician’s side rarely looked dangerous, Vancouver are now winless in seven matches in Major League Soccer play.
This latest hapless road match – the 'Caps haven’t won away from BC Place since July 2012 – left Rennie fuming, and even calling for his players to apologize to the club’s fans.
“I shield them from any media criticism,” Rennie said on Vancouver radio station TEAM 1410’s postgame show. “I think that’s the right thing for me to do, and 99.9 percent of the time it’s what I will do. But I just felt today, I wasn’t happy at all with what we came up in the second half.”
Rennie then went on to dish out some harsh words for his players, which marked a major shift from his usual “positive thinking” shtick in which he generally answers critical questions by focusing on the so-called bright side of negative situations his team or players experience.
“The players have to decide whether they’ve got the desire or not,” Rennie said. “In my opinion, they need to apologize to the fans for that performance. They need to take a good, hard look at themselves and they need to decide if they want to be a part of the club going forward.
“We will, without any shadow of a doubt, build a team that will be very successful and will be full of players who have the desire required to play for the club. We’ll weed out those who don’t, and they need to decide if they want to be a part of it or not.”
The man wearing the armband on the night, Nigel Reo-Coker, agreed with his coach and took things a step further, questioning the toughness of some of his teammates and the group as a whole. It was an interview reminiscent of his slamming of Darren Mattocks following a 2-1 loss to the Houston Dynamo on March 24.
“In all honesty, I just think right now at this moment, we’re a soft team,” Reo-Coker told TEAM 1410. “We need to be tougher. Being tougher doesn’t mean running around physically smashing everyone, or putting in hard tackles. It means being tough and hard to beat. Defending properly, running back, doubling back, helping your teammates and making unselfish runs.
“The reality is, we’re a soft team. We’re very soft right now.”