Monday’s OneSoccer Hangout featured Toronto Star reporter Laura Armstrong, who came on the show to discuss all things Canadian soccer — particularly in the wake of women’s team coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller’s departure last week.
Armstrong, along with OneSoccer’s Adam Jenkins and Oliver Platt, began by discussing why Heiner-Møller left the program, and how his two-year tenure with the side might be remembered.
“It kind of feels like this is gonna be a moment in Canadian soccer history that we kind of forget happened,” Armstrong said. “For a coach to come in and be a lot more reserved was always going to be a different time, and I don’t really feel like he made his mark.”
The panel pointed to a lack of major defining moments or successes, perhaps making Heiner-Møller’s tenure more forgettable than John Herdman’s.
From a player’s perspective, though, it seems that Heiner-Møller was fairly appreciated by the likes of Christine Sinclair.
“I think he was a real players’ coach,” Armstrong said. “I don’t think the system had had a players’ coach for a while, so I think the players really took to that.”
She added: “Herdman had completely shaped that program, he’d brought them down from broken after the 2011 World Cup and sort of rebuilt them all.”
With Heiner-Møller not officially stepping down until August, Canada Soccer has plenty of time to vet its potential candidates to take over as manager. Who, though, could take over the reins?
“To me it seems very unlikely that we’re going to see someone appointed that hasn’t worked with or under John Herdman,” Platt said. “I think they’re going want someone that’s willing to work within that framework and continue the work that’s been done rather than revolutionize anything.”
Both Platt and Armstrong agreed on two foremost candidates: former national team player Rhian Wilkinson, now coaching Canada’s youth teams; and Bev Priestman, a former assistant coach to Herdman, now working under Phil Neville with England’s women’s team.
“I would like to see it be a woman, we’ve had a male coach for almost ten years in this program,” Armstrong argued. “Canada Soccer has spoken a lot about promoting women in the game and putting women in positions that aren’t just on the field, and I think they should try to live up to that standard.”
The group continued their women’s national team discussion, talking about the future of the side — which players will lead them into the future, and who should surround Jessie Fleming in midfield? How might a new coach make the team exciting again, and capture the imagination as much as they did around the past two Olympic tournaments?
“They’ve said it time and time again, this is the best squad they’ve ever had,” Armstrong said. “I don’t think that they’re showing that, really.”
With the world of women’s football becoming more and more competitive at the top, the pundits agreed that Canada needs to put in some more consistent performances to join the upper echelon, and that it’s time for the team to start turning toward its future.
To watch Tuesday’s OneSoccer Player & Pundit Hangout in full, click here.