New women’s team coach will work “within the culture” of Canada By Steven Sandor Posted on September 1, 2011 1 0 521 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter John Herdman’s initial press conference as the new coach of the national women’s team must have been music to the ears of those in the Canadian Soccer Association. After years of butting heads with former coach Carolina Morace, after threats of player strikes and resignations, Herdman’s calm demeanour and diplomatic air has to have the CSA believing that it doesn’t have to be in crisis-management mode anymore. Herdman lauded the CSA Thursday for putting together a great core of talent and emphasizing the women’s program. He spoke of ensuring that the players did the majority of their training close to their families and their fans, rather than secluded camps in Europe as was the case with Morace. “You’ve got to work with the culture and within the culture,” said Herdman, an English coach who has spent the last 10 years in New Zealand, and coached that country’s women’s team at the 2011 World Cup. Herdman spoke of keeping the women’s team players comfortable and making sure that young fans in Canada have as many chances as possible to see the national team play. Herdman will be in charge when Canada faces the United States in friendlies on Sept. 17 and 22. He will use that time to assess the squad — and admitted he won’t have much prep time before the game. John Herdman “It’s a bit of a baptism of fire going in against the USA,” he said. He then wants to meet with players and discuss the areas where Canada needs to improve in the wake of a disappointing winless three-and-out performance at the WWC. He believes the nucleus of players is there. “I have to sit down with the leaders of the team and understand what the missing factors are,” he said. After the assessment period, he’ll lead the team in Olympic qualifying In January. After the Olympics comes the big task — getting the team ready for the 2015 World Cup. As the host nation, Canada simply can’t go winless through the group stage again. The chance of being the coach of the host nation was a lure that was too strong for Herdman to resist. “It’s exciting for a coach to see a group of players, a team, reach their goals in front of their own people, in front of their own fans. It’s a dream come true.” And Herdman understands the fact that Canada doesn’t have to qualify for the World Cup has its good and bad side. Knowing that Canada will play the opening game of the tournament on home soil means that Herdman can spend extra time experimenting and tinkering with the lineup. But it also can hurt a team not to have an edge going into the World Cup. “We have seen some host teams struggle with lack of focus, by not having that qualifying pressure keeping the team in line.” And while Herdman promises to run a program that’s more open, more accessible than Morace did, the footballing philosophy will be similar. Don’t expect a return to the 8-0-2 formation that was preferred by Even Pellerud, who led the team before Morace introduced the idea of playing the ball through the midfield. “You have to move with the modern game,” said Herdman. “In Even’s time the straight-forward approach in the women’s game was prevalent in a lot of teams at that time.” See? Herdman spoke of his support of Morace’s style, but did it in a way to not call out Pellerud. He’s a diplomat. And, after long battles between the CSA and its previous coach, a diplomat might be exactly what the women’s program needs.