Mitchell: “I’ll continue to honour my contract until it’s expired”

Last night, Dale Mitchell spoke to Tyler Green and Mike Martignago of “Full Time” on the TEAM 1040 in Vancouver and, as you would expect, said a few things that were destined to rile up us nerds in the Canadian soccer blogosphere. Here are some of the “highlights” (term used loosely, of course):

[about the calls from supporters to resign] “I have a contract. I’m not accustomed to quitting, and I’ll continue to honour my contract until it’s expired and we’ll see where we go from there.”

[about the fact that many players seem disgruntled] “Certainly anybody who’s coached for Canada with the national team program knows it’s a tough environment… The bottom line is, we didn’t get the results. There’s a lot of opinions out there about why we didn’t get the results; I certainly have mine, and I think there are supporters and media that are voicing theirs. In some ways, I think it affects the players, and some of them have theirs. The bottom line is, it’s a winning business. As a coach, you win and usually you continue, and if you don’t win, I think you know what the eventuality is. That’s the business I’m in, and I’m comfortable with that.”

[what were the reasons Canada failed to qualify for the Hex?] “The two biggest ones are Honduras and Mexico. I think that those two teams will qualify for the World Cup… Not a lot of people in Canada really know, or knew, the quality of a player like Wilson Palacios or David Suazo… [Honduras is] a quality side. I think we were close. We had the lead in the second half against them in Montreal, but clearly we weren’t able to hold on.”

[what has the CSA said to you about the future of soccer in Canada, and your future?] “Not a lot to this point. I think the situation is that I do have a contract and I know what this year entails — the Gold Cup — and that’s really what my focus is on.”

[what needs to change going forward?] “This campaign, there was a lot of excitement and people thought things would be a lot better. But if you look at this decade of qualifying, I think we’ve won two matches out of 18 at this stage, and both of those were after we’d been eliminated from competition… We’re not winning matches. That’s the biggest thing that needs to change. Now, how you go about it is another story.”

Now, the biggest news from this interview is a confirmation of what most of us already believed: Mitchell knows he’s toast but is going to cling to his contract for dear life until the amateurs at the CSA get their shit together and fire him (which, as we learned last week, won’t be anytime soon and, most likely, won’t happen at all).

Also a bit disheartening is the similarity between these remarks and the ones Mitchell made following the disastrous U20 World Cup in 2007: it’s the players’ fault, they weren’t good enough and people were being a bit naive in thinking they could accomplish anything.

At no point in this interview did Mitchell offer anything vaguely resembling a mea culpa. I did not expect him to hold himself fully accountable for the campaign (since what he said is obviously correct: at the end of the day, the players did not score goals and win games when they needed to). And considering some of the things that the players have said about him, the natural reaction is to strike back at them when given the opportunity.

But for him to at no point even offer a bullshit platitude such as “we lost as a team, we will move forward as a team” is insulting to me as a supporter. While Dale Mitchell may be a perfectly nice person, he can no longer be counted on as the manager of the Canadian men’s national team anymore and must be removed if this country is to move forward.

Of course, this being Canadian soccer, that’s exactly what won’t be happening.

For the full interview, in podcast form, click on the link in the opening sentence.


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