Stephen Hart should not be made the full-time head coach of Canada’s men’s national team.
There, I said it. Breathe. It wasn’t easy.
Since taking over the coaching duties (once again) he has led the national squad to an undefeated record. And he has done it with a young squad missing some of its star power. And he has done it in the so-called Group of Death. And he has done it for no money.
So, why the Sam Hill shouldn’t he be made head coach? Well, to put it simply, Hart can do better.
Right now, he’s doing the job of two men — interim national team head coach and technical director of the Canadian Soccer Association. Hell, as technical director, he’s doing the job of 10 men.
So, if you’re counting: That’s the job of 11 men, by one man, making one salary. Quite the deal. Kind of makes you wonder where that savvy negotiating was when the last coach was inked.
In Hart, you have one of the clearest, most succinct soccer minds in the country. He is one of many who share an understanding of what needs to be done to develop world-class soccer players in this country — and one of the few who are actually in a position to do something about it.
I think back to January when Hart came on the It’s Called Football show. In a wide-ranging interview, the man from Trinidad and Tobago discussed the impact youth academies are having across the country, how to link streams of amateur player development into our professional and semi-professional ranks and, more importantly, stressed the importance of raising the level of technical coaching standards in Canada.
It was a complex, enlightening interview and a breath of fresh air. Afterwards, Ben Knight, co-host of the show and a man with 20 years of soccer writing under his colourful vest, turned to me and said, “Wow, this guy gets it. We’ve really got something here.”
Got something, indeed.
The question now is what the CSA intends to do with Hart.
It’s hard not to look back on the disastrous World Cup qualifying campaign and wonder what could have been if Hart had led the way. The players, by all accounts, love playing for him and, quite simply, he gets results.
And with Canada looking like it may make a run deep into the Gold Cup, the calls will certainly once again come to install Hart as the full-time head coach.
That would be a mistake.
The man can’t keep on doing the demanding work of both jobs — one side or the other will eventually suffer.
Getting results with the national team is the sexier approach, but developing elite level players for generations to come would be the smart one.
– Watch Ben Rycroft on the It’s Called Football show every Monday at metronews.ca;
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