TORONTO – You’ll never mistake who you’re talking to when Rob Gale is on the other end of the line.
He’s jovial, as always, and a delight to interview, especially when Arsenal are playing, which was the case when this reporter hopped on the phone with the Valour FC head coach to ask him a few questions regarding some upcoming league business.
Obliging our request, Gale starts to lay out his plans for getting his players into tip-top shape, then interrupts himself mid-sentence to inform us that the Gunners have been awarded a penalty. He pauses, waits to celebrate the inevitable Arsenal goal, then carries on with his answer without skipping a beat.
In many ways, Gale is the most charismatic head coach in the CPL – and, perhaps, all of North America, with due regards to Club America’s Miguel Herrera, among others.
But on the field? Gale puts on a more serious face.
“I’m not one to be jumping up and down and be screaming on the bench,” Gale told CanPL.ca, when asked if he carries his upbeat demeanour onto the field. “You won’t see me Jurgen Klopp-ing on the bench … unless we score a last-minute winner, of course. Then I might just run onto the field!”
He continued: “For me, it’s very important how you conduct yourself on and off the field. For the people of Winnipeg who know me, I don’t change in any circumstance. I remain authentic to myself and try to build a footballing vision on the field that’s authentic to me and the community we’re representing.”
So, no big match nerves or drama from the Valour FC coach?
“I just sit back and hopefully can enjoy my team play football in what I think is the right way,” he replied. “If that’s happening, I’m usually pretty calm.”
He goes off topic to explain that he’s also got plans for the hour-and-a-half wait before the start of each match, the “most boring portion of dead time” he and his players would usually endure by “sitting around twiddling your thumbs” – though he wouldn’t reveal exactly what he’s got planned, beyond involving other coaches from the Manitoban soccer community.
Focusing back to the topic at hand, though, Gale explains just how he’ll whip his team into shape from a mental perspective, as many of them embark on their first foray in the world of professional football, in front of crowds at Investors Group Field.
“With young players, you have to establish habits,” Gale explains. “We have to focus purely on performance. I’m lucky that some of the players I’ve brought in have had professional playing experience of some kind – and we’ve been very deliberate in doing that.
“The rest, and they’ll learn this, it’s about the process and focusing on your performances, your roles, responsibilities, and your collective duty to the team, and phasing all that other stuff out.
“No matter if you play in front of one man and his dog or 20,000 people, you have to just focus on doing your job. If we can build the right work ethic and get the fans on our side, then I think we’ll be in good stead.”
Just as there’s no mistaking the man on the phone, so too is it made abundantly clear that when it comes to the business of coaching, Rob Gale fits the bill to a tee.