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In Defense of Martin Rennie

Man, are the long knives emerging from the shadows here in Vancouver. No, not in the darkened alleyways of the city's seedy downtown eastside, but among fans, the media, and even - reportedly - among team ownership.

Vancouver Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie: Will he be back again to man the helm for Vancouver next year?
Vancouver Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie: Will he be back again to man the helm for Vancouver next year?

I've hardly been a Martin Rennie apologist this year, as I'm sure my six regular readers will attest. And it would be my hope that the criticisms that I've raised were, whether you agreed or not, at least fair.

It's this interest in fairness that prompts me to write here. Look, Rennie has made his mistakes this season including: slotting certain players into sub-optimal positions (Camilo, Kobayashi, and Koffie - Has the club figured out if he's an attacking or holding mid yet?), sticking obstinately to a formation that wasn't working, failing to give enough playing time to our youngest crop of players not named Mitchell, and a reluctance to introduce subs until the dying minutes - even when it was painfully clear that some on-pitch assets weren't performing.

But I can't help wondering where the Whitecaps would have finished if some things - all beyond Martin Rennie's control - had gone differently.

How many points would the Caps have finished on, and what place would they have occupied had Jay DeMerit not suffered his serious Achilles injury in minute 6 of the 2013 season? How many points might the Caps have given up during his six-and-a-half-month absence?

Would there still be a run on  whetstones here if Andy O'Brien hadn't gone down with a lengthy hamstring injury suffered on a dodgy sod overlay in Seattle?

Would the Caps have won, and maintained their homefield supremacy this season if Jun Marques Davidson hadn't attempted to give Philadelphia's Keon Daniel an epidural with his skull?

Then there were the international call-ups. The Camilo-Milller-Teibert combo was red-hot until Russel Teibert got the call - and came down sick. That three-headed beast never really found its form again.

None of these can justly be heaped on Rennie's shoulders. Would it be unrealistic to suggest that the Caps might well have picked up six additional points over the course of the season had the Caps not been beset by such bad luck?

Six points. Had Vancouver finished with 54 points, and at least good enough for 3rd in the Western Conference (4th overall in MLS), I wonder how many would still be screaming for Rennie's head.

It's a very fine line, and I really have to question whether Martin Rennie's an all-too-convenient scapegoat for all too many.