There was a period in the 1980s when my dad was going through a sort of midlife crisis. Hmm, there’s a term you don’t hear so much anymore. It was bandied about a lot in the 1980s as an explanation for why guys in their 50s would suddenly start to do atypical things like wearing their shirts unbuttoned down to the navel and buying motorcycles. It seems to have fallen out of common parlance, perhaps because so many fewer men at that stage of life have the quantity of disposable income requisite for such impulsive consumption.
In any case, this was thirty some years ago, when things weren’t quite so far out of whack (although that wasn’t how it seemed at the time) and my old man was feeling his years. Or maybe he wasn’t, but this is the only way that I have to explain that, at a certain point, he bought himself one of those MG Spitfire two seat sports cars. I was ok with that at the time, mostly because he would, on occasion, let me go ripping around on the back roads outside of town. The problem was that, as he soon discovered, there are really only two kinds of people who should own Spitfires: those who enjoy working on cars and those who are wealthy enough not to worry about having to put them in the shop all the time.
With all due respect to my many British friends, one should simply never buy appliances or automobiles made in the UK (Jaguars being something of an exception). My dad is good at many things, but he is just not the sort of guy who has any interest in crawling around under the hood of a car. As such, the little Spitfire yoyo’ed back and forth between the street in front of our house and the mechanic’s garage. I don’t even remember all the things that went wrong with it. I do remember that it gave my dad precious little in terms of enjoyment. One night a few years later, a drunk pinballed his car down our street and smashed the little Spitfire. I think that my pop decided that this was the universe telling him that the Spitfire was a bad idea, so he took the insurance money and bid the remains of the little car farewell.
I was put in mind of this story by the acquisition of Donovan Ricketts and the small scale pissing match that broke out between Gavin and Troy Perkins in the wake of the latter’s being traded to Montreal. Gavin came out in the press claiming that this was an upgrade. This was, not surprisingly, rather annoying to Perkins, who came out with a “that’s your opinion” type of comment (read it here). All in all, not too surprising, but I do wonder at the claim that Ricketts is an upgrade from Perkins. He’s older, and while he has had some good seasons, particularly in 2010, it’s not clear that the arc of his career is trending upwards. Also, he’s been injured a lot lately. I think it’s fair to say that, given the way our season is going now, we don’t need an extended run of our second string keeper. It is, of course, yet to be seen whether my analogy between a 34 year old keeper and an ill-conceived British sports car has any validity. At this moment, sitting here poring over the stats, I just don’t see Ricketts as a major upgrade
One topic on which we do have a bit more evidence is that of the determination of the people running the club to retool the squad. That, at least, is what is portended by the trade of Mike Chabala to DC United. I must admit to being a little sad to see Chewie go. He was a gamer. The one thing that you could be sure of was that whatever you got from him on the night was 100% of what he had to give. Having said that, it was pretty clear that he didn’t really fit into the squad rotation any more. The team has upgraded at both fullback positions, and if it must be conceded that both Smith and Kimura have had their difficulties, it is similarly certain that both of them are to be preferred to Chabala. In any case, I wish him well.
In place of him, we now have the young Kiwi Ian Hogg. He has to be one of about 36 people in New Zealand who doesn’t actually play rugby for a living. The most notable moment in his footballing career up to now was in Aukland City’s squad when they played in the World Club Cup in the United Arab Emirates in 2009. I think he was also in the New Zealand side for the Beijing Olympics. There just isn’t that much information available about him. I’d like to give the scouting staff the benefit of the doubt and assume that they’ve done their homework on the guy, but it’s really too soon to say anything of consequence. It’s not like there’s really even You Tube footage available.
This move does constitute further evidence that changes in the composition of the squad are afoot, which isn’t totally surprising given the current situation. Or it wouldn’t be if the new manager had been hired. But he hasn’t, and although there are some candidates on the horizon there is nothing definite. I wonder what the situation is going to be when they do bring someone in. So far, the changes have not been of the kind that a new manager would necessarily want to undo. But it is generally the case that a new manager will want to put his own stamp on the side and to be included in its reconfiguration.
The trade of Chabala was like for like, and that makes some sense. The major problems of the team remain, and they are not the kind of thing that will be fixed by bringing in a better keeper or by shifting around the marginal players in the squad, especially those playing in defense. With only 20 goals scored in 22 matches, one has to say that the problems lie elsewhere. The only direct response of late has been to sift some younger blood into the mix in the form of Richards and Dike. That’s not a bad thing as far as it goes. Cutting away the dead wood is also not a bad thing, but there are real deficiencies in the squad that need to be seriously addressed. Sooner rather than later.