TORONTO – Canada’s 8-0 thrashing of the U.S. Virgin Islands may prove just a footnote in the team’s CONCACAF Nations League story, but for manager John Herdman, there’s more to this strong start than a talented group of players scoring goals for fun.
Instead, as Herdman explained Thursday to Jeff Blair on Sportsnet 590 The Fan, the emphatic result is the first sign of a positive shift in mentality and culture within the team camp, with the new Canada coach fully in agreement when Blair quipped that Canada’s players looked more cohesive in the early days of his tenure.
Though the group features plenty of new faces, for Herdman, there are off-field reasons for that change.
“There’s a humbleness about this group and a hungriness about this group, and I feel like they’ve surrendered their egos,” Herdman told Blair on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “It’s a big part of what I was introducing in this first camp and the stages of team development that I expect the team to move through – where Stage 1 is a team that’s full of ego and is a group and not a team.
“We’re already up that ladder, and a lot of that is down to the DNA of Canadians; the majority are humble guys who haven’t had easy experiences in their football careers, so they really respect the work that’s gone in by people to get to that level, and you see it off the field.”
That new mentality – and the shedding of ego – is part of a bigger plan for Herdman, who is hoping those lessons transcend the locker room and weave themselves into the fabric of the team’s style of play and work ethic.
So far, Herdman is happy with what he sees.
“There’s a humbless that players will move for and with each other, and make those unselfish runs into open space for each other, and that was part of our training,” Herdman explained. “I’ve been clear to the group that our group of front five players, they’re going to move more than any other group of players in CONCACAF. We’ve set that as a target, every game. We’ll not move more defensively anymore. That’s part of what I expect. We’ll move more off the ball when we have the ball. They’re buying into that.”
To listen to Jeff Blair’s full interview with Canada manager John Herdman, head over to Sportsnet 590 The Fan.