2022 FIFA World Cup™: Lessons for John Herdman (Nicolas Landry)

AL RAYYAN, Qatar – The 2022 World Cup will always be an open school for players on Canada’s youth squad. Three high-pressure matches in one of the competition’s toughest groups to truly measure the difference between the cream of CONCACAF and the best the rest of the world has to offer.

Jonathan David now knows he has another split second to convert to a blocked shot to be a shot on target. Alphonso Davies will have painful memories to draw inspiration from next time he scores a penalty as the world watches. Alistair Johnston will have new techniques in his arsenal the next time he is challenged in duels by Hazard or Perisic.

Numerous small failures, if properly interpreted and treated, can become a valuable didactic work.

John Herdman will also find his account there.

The Canadian coach arrived in Qatar with an impeccable reputation. He comes out with a few good chinks in his armor. Accustomed to praise, he’ll probably walk out of this tournament with the confused look of a boxer who didn’t see the punch that brought him down.

The “F” word saga that culminated Sunday isn’t the reason Canada was defeated by Croatia. Even if the strategist who respected this logic sang nursery rhymes with red and white checkered flags on his cheeks for four days. But the mess it creates and the reprimands it earns him will no doubt prompt him to take control of the moment and rethink his motivational tactics.

Those who believe that the time is over for players to be inspired by their opponents’ statements to step on the gas a little should read the words of Andrej Kramaric, who scored a brace in Canada’s 4-1 defeat. “I want to thank the head coach of Canada for the motivation. Tonight, Croatia showed who the ‘f—‘ was who, dropping man of the match without asking.

At the press conference, Herdman partially admitted his guilt.

Asked if he regrets his words, he answered “Not at all”. I respect Croatia. But like I said, I had to push my guys as much as I could, change the mentality of the group. I could have handled my emotions better leaving this speech, I’m willing to admit that. This is part of my learning. »

Herdman didn’t ask for it, but he also got some free advice from his Croatian counterpart. Zlatko Dalic, who responded to the letter f question with the word “respect” the day before the game, did not appreciate what our eyes saw from the height of the Khalifa International Stadium: Herdman n never tried to shake. his hand after the final whistle.

Dalic said: “Whether I win or lose, I always go to another coach.” He wasn’t there and that’s his job. He is clearly angry. He is a good coach, a quality professional. But he needs time to learn some things. »

Blind faith and extreme loyalty

Herdman may also conclude that he would benefit more from ruling his men with an iron fist than a velvet glove.

Against Belgium, his side’s leadership came under the microscope when Davies himself took the initiative to take the ball to the penalty spot rather than leave it to a more experienced player like David. Shouldn’t specific instructions be established at the very top of the chain of command in anticipation of such a moment?

Other issues have been raised against Croatia. Known for his loyalty to his veterans and most loyal soldiers, Herdman took this tendency to extremes when he used Captain Atiba Hutchinson. Canada’s dean probably should have stayed on the bench for the start of the second half, clearly trailing against the star trio at the heart of Croatia’s animation.

Returning from the dressing room, Herdman instead decided to drop the injured Stephen Eustachio and striker Cyle Larry. In a surprising revelation, he said the plan was to recall Hutchinson in ’55e minute, but the latter had persuaded him to lay down a little longer. 100 winnerse Wearing the Reds jersey was eventually replaced by 73e minute.

“I needed leadership. I had just returned [Ismaël] Kone, I needed leadership and he wanted to continue,” the coach explained, convincing no one.

While we’re at it, Canadian Soccer as a whole could learn a lesson from returning to Worlds after a 36-year hiatus. Someone made Herdman and Hutchinson arrive more than half an hour late for their first pre-match press conference.

Arguably the most popular player in the team, Alphonso Davies has always given no interviews, apart from a few brief appearances in front of the cameras of the official broadcasters.

The communication of training schedules and other logistical details was so inefficient that it unfortunately surprised no one with the least experience of working with the federation.

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