Searching for a new coach

Replacing a head coach in a professional sports team is always a challenging process, and Vancouver Whitecaps are making sure the right appointment is made for its men’s team.

It has been less than a month since the Whitecaps decided to relieve Bob Lilley of his duties after three years as men’s team head coach, with the club now aiming to move in a new direction after a disappointing 2007 USL First Division campaign.

With interim coach Todd Wawrousek overseeing the squad’s off-season training program, the search to find Lilley’s successor has seen the Whitecaps take a different approach to identifying candidates for the role. “Unlike previous times, what we wanted to do this go around was post the job, as opposed to identifying a candidate and then zeroing in on that one person,” Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi told whitecapsfc.com. “In addition to posting the job, we’ve talked with people that I’ve met with throughout my years in the game, with regards to any candidates that they may feel are suitable for the job.”

The job posting process saw the Whitecaps use the British-based soccer employment website, football-jobs.com, to advertise for the head coach position. Lenarduzzi admits the move has been beneficial to the club’s search. “As a result of posting the job, we received in excess of 20 applications from that website, and in addition through our contacts or people realizing that the job is available, we’ve had further applications,” he said. “I think it’s an indication of where the Whitecaps are at and where the game is at in this part of the world that there is much more interest than previous times when we were in this situation. At the same time, it really does require your own screening process to make sure you weed out the candidates that really don’t have the experience to coach at the level we are at. That is something we face, not only from a coaching perspective, but also from a calibre of play perspective. I think some people assume that the USL First Division is not a good level, but if you talk to those who have played in the league like Nick Dasovic or Tony Caig, they would say it is a much better level of play than first thought.”

Lenarduzzi described the type of individual they are keen to find to fill the role of head coach. “What we’re really looking for is the complete package,” he said. “That would entail the coach having an outgoing personality and a willingness to sell the sport. Wins and losses are important in a coach’s survival, but because we are selling the sport, that person will need to reach out more than they would in other parts of the world. We are limited as to the kind of coach we can entice to come to Vancouver, as we can’t compete at the English Premiership or the higher levels in most of the other countries, although that is where we aspire to be in the near future. For the time being, we’re looking for a candidate that is at the start of his coaching career and we feel has the right qualities to grow with the club, or we’re looking for someone who is at the back end of their career, who has had enough of the stresses of the high-level jobs and might be interested in this kind of opportunity. That’s where we think we’re going to have success in finding a new head coach.”

Though the 2008 USL-1 season is several months away, Lenarduzzi is hopeful of an appointment in the near future. “The job posting process will conclude this week,” he revealed. “We will then shortlist the applicants from the applications that we’ve received and whittle that down to a shorter number. The next thing we will likely do is have phone interviews with the respective candidates. From there, if we feel strongly about a couple of them, we would likely have face-to-face interviews. We’re hoping the process will be concluded by the end of November, and at the rate that we are going, hopefully sooner than that.”

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