Unexpected moves within Canadian soccer have kind of become John Herdman’s signature play at this point.
Back in 2018 after all, seemingly out of nowhere, he left the CanWNT to take over as the head coach of CanMNT — which at the time seemed like a CHOICE.
That move worked out incredibly well for just about everyone. The women’s team, after some admittedly down years, would go on to win a Gold Medal in Tokyo under Bev Priestman. Herdman, meanwhile, would lead the men’s team to their first World Cup since 1986. Kings of Concacaf and all of that.
The move is also something of a natural progression. For most coaches, coaching at the club level is quite frankly more rewarding. There are more matches, significantly more time with the players and more earning potential. The best global managers work for clubs, not country.
Everyone assumed Herdman would take the next step at some point given his level of success, but so soon, and like THIS, still has all of our heads spinning.
Opinion on the move has been decidedly split, with some called it a hammer blow (whatever that means) to the program, while others suggesting that behind-the-scenes drama might have actually made this a good time for a parting of ways.
John had his chance to give his own thoughts at his introductory press conference but ended up kind of dancing around a few questions as you would expect and mostly just reiterating how excited he was to be joining the club. This was the classy move, for sure, and what both set of fans probably want to hear.
Obviously, he leaves a lot on the table in his departure, including Coaching at a World Cup at home. But let’s not forget, is an experience that Herdman has already had on his coaching resumé with CanWNT in 2015.
It truly has the potential to eventually work out for all involved but that comes down to two big factors. First, and, foremost, Canada has to get his replacement right. Bringing in a coach that can galvanize this group and get them back to their best, convince dual nations and lead this team through the most important matches it has ever played.
For Herdman, the biggest challenge will be fixing a dressing room and roster that seems pretty divided and broken. Fortunately, this is what he does best. His status and success in Canadian soccer will also be key to getting the frustrating fan base back on board.
That’s where we stand. Where the two programs go next is anyone’s guess.