Retired Jamaica international Jobi McAnuff insists he is not just along for the ride after signing a new one-year contract with England League Two club Leyton Orient.

McANuff the club captain, will be 39 years old later this year and transitioned to a player/coach role last season.  He will be in a similar capacity this year but despite being the senior statesman of sorts is determined to be more than just a passenger on the pitch.

“I don’t just want to be a bit part or be here for the ride, I want to contribute, that’s a big, big thing for me,” McAnuff said in an interview with the club’s official website.

“I’m feeling good,” he added.

 “Last year, as everyone knows, was frustrating. I worked really hard to get back to playing, and I’ve got a lot of work again to get to the level I want to get to.”

The injury kept McAnuff out of action for almost the entire season, not playing his first match until March.  Orient coach Ross Embleton is confident the Jamaica midfielder will be a major contributor both on and off the pitch – and is delighted to see him stay.

“He’s been at the club since I came back, and we all know what an inspiration he is on the pitch,” Embleton said.

McAnuff has made 141 appearances for the O’s in two spells.

 

Joe Hunt, International Projects Manager at English Premier League Club Wolverhampton Wanderers, believes finding their own identity is the best way for Caribbean countries to climb the international football ladder.

 Hunt, who currently oversees projects in North America, Asia, and Europe insists that merely copying what the best teams in the world are doing may not be the best fit for countries in the region.

 He pointed out that even his own country, England, has been guilty of thinking along those lines in the past.

 “When the French won in ’98 everyone wanted to copy the French, England tried. When Germany won the World Cup, everyone wanted to copy Germany. When Belgium produced all these players everyone wanted to copy Belgium. We are none of them, we are English so it’s about time that they developed a pathway that suited English players,” Hunt told The Commentators podcast.

 “Overall you got to have your own identity – how you want to play –what’s going to suit your players when you step into the elite arena.”

 Hunt was a guest on The Commentators Podcast with Ricardo Chambers and Donald Oliver. Listen to the full episode.

Leon Bailey is undoubtedly the most successful player in the recent history of Jamaica’s football and there may be some truth to some of the ‘charges’ he recently levelled at the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), however, lambasting your national organization is a no-no.

I do not want to get into the wrongs or rights of the statements, however, the JFF’s history is replete with players of varying levels of professional experience complaining about some of the very same things Bailey seems to take umbrage with.

However, each time that a player has made his feelings public, I have thought to myself, there is a better way to do this.

I do not believe the JFF wants to get into a battle of words with a player and have rightly sought to remind Mr Bailey of his professional responsibilities with a ‘gag order’.

I put gag order in quotes because I believe that no such order will be given to Bailey, but that the JFF is attempting to publicly make it known that the organization would not be putting up with that kind of behaviour.

I have heard Mr Bailey’s agent, Craig Butler, in defence of his client, which is his job really, say he supports the statements and believes the player has a right to them.

I agree.

But controlling sports teams, especially national teams, is a funny thing.

It is not like running an organization with employees who have contracts and are firable, which once done legally, has very little impact on the organization, even in the case of a good employee.

Let us say, that the JFF reached out to Bailey quietly and asked him what the issues were and sought to find common ground.

Here is what I fear would happen.

Now, players in growing numbers start believing that they can just say what they feel, regardless of their platform when doing so.

That, just like the chopping and changing that Butler and Bailey speak about, will have a deleterious effect on team building.

For example, one can look at the French team that imploded at the 2010 World Cup under famous former French player, Raymond Domenech.

It is safe to say the players did not want Domenech leading them anymore and went through a sort of revolt which Zinedine Zidane, arguably the country’s greatest player, foreshadowing the implosion by saying the coach had lost the dressing room.

Theodore Whitmore is, as far as I am aware, respected by his players, but how long will that last if public criticisms of his knowledge and/or competence as a coach are questioned openly without a response?

If the JFF had not responded, Whitmore would be well on his way to losing that dressing room.

Playing for a coach means having the confidence that he knows what he is doing, even if you don’t agree with his methodologies.

A team is not the players and then the administration and coach, an addendum. The team is all of the above.

This means Whitmore is part of that team and one of the most important parts in the success of that team is trust.

You have to trust your coach and public comments disparaging his methods do not engender trust.

The JFF, on the other hand, have to fix the years of mistrust between themselves and players by earnestly reaching out to them. Letting them know if there are financial problems that make it difficult to pay them, if they are having trouble getting games, whatever is an issue that if not communicated properly, could be taken in the wrong way. In other words, the JFF needs to understand that it is part of the team as well and comments by president Michael Ricketts that the JFF cannot cause the team to be eliminated from World Cup qualifications suggests the head of the organization does not see himself as part of the team.

The JFF is part of the team, win, lose or draw.

Not being able to kick the ball into the goal or make a tackle that saves one has nothing to do with being part of the team and the JFF boss and all future ‘bosses’ need to begin to see themselves as part of the team.

That way, whatever the way forward, Jamaica’s football will tackle it as a team.

 

There has been a long-running argument about what Jamaica can do to help push along its football development with many pundits voicing many different opinions.

One of the most successful schoolboy football coaches in recent history, former Jamaica College head honcho, Miguel Coley sat down with Tanya Lee on ‘Sports Chat’ recently and pointed to another way of looking at that development.

According to Coley, all the arguments about developing fields to generate good habits among young footballers will count for nought if the country does not understand how to manage its talent.

“Management of players is very, very important. We have not lacked talent but what we lack is properly managing our players,” the former Reggae Boyz assistant coach explained.

Coley compared the way other more successful sports in the country, like track and field are treated and believes football should take its cue from them.

“If you look at any other sport, like track and field, for example, that athlete needs management around him, he needs maybe his doctor, a physiotherapist, all different stakeholders that support him. In football, when we have very good players, we don’t have a good management system around them. They are injured, they cannot go to the doctor, they cannot find finances to do this and that,” he said.

Coley, who rose to fame after his Jamaica College units won every title you could think of over the course of seven years, said putting a good management team in place for good young players will engender professional habits and lead to better footballers.

“We have to identify our good young players from early, put a good management team around them and let them start feeling and seeing themselves as being on the doorstep of being a professional player,” he said.

Coley was not ignoring the other issues within football in Jamaica but said he believed development would occur even without them being resolved.

“People will say you need a lot of resources and money, but what we need more of is personnel. We know the problems with our fields, and many countries have issues with fields, so it is no problem sometimes you play on a bad field, and you grow from that level. We definitely need better fields in the country, but I think more than anything else it’s the management,” he said.

Coley, who is assistant coach at United Arab Emirates side Banniyas, also believes that management goes hand in hand with good coaching and wants the coaches in the country to up their level.

“We also have to get our coaches to a level where it is not only about being certified but to have the experience now to take our talents to the next level,” said Coley.

“For our football to improve, or for education on anything to improve, your teachers and coaches have to be at a certain level. You’re not going to be lecturing at the university with a diploma, you need a doctorate or maybe a masters, so that is something that has to improve. And this has nothing to do with our coaches not being good, but they have to be at a certain level to bring that talent because Jamaica has the raw, raw, talent, just bring the coaches to a certain level.”

History lay in waiting for Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz in 1997 after the side, under the tutelage of Rene Simoes, qualified for the 1998 World Cup in France.

But before the day when the Black, Gold and Green was raised in celebration over an absolutely remarkable feat, there was a moment, just as historic and memorable, but for a very different reason.

Jamaican international Shamar Nicholson paints a frustrated image from his home in the Belgian city of Charleroi.

Nicholson, a former Boys’ Town footballer, transferred from the Red Stripe Premier League and now plies his trade in Belgium’s Jupiter League.

Charleroi, for whom he plays, are currently third in the league but its suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic has left him in a difficult place.

“[…] it’s a difficult situation as it’s not vacation time and I’m not used to not playing football now in season time, it feels so weird,” said Nicholson in an interview with Jamaican newspaper, The Gleaner.

The 23-year-old is keeping in shape while the league is suspended courtesy of a personal trainer and a programme the club has written for his daily exercise at home, but that is not enough.

“I’m in Charleroi and when you go out, you don’t see people outside, you hear no noise, nothing, it’s so weird. It has affected the whole country and, as we speak, it’s affecting the whole world and now it’s football season and there is no football, it’s just staying home and you get so tired of staying home, even though training is hard,” said Nicholson.

Nicholson had scored nine goals for Charleroi before the forced break, with just one player having scored more for his side.

There was just one game remaining in the regular season by the time COVID-19 fears put an end to football in Belgium, with Charleroi in third place, one point of a Champions League spot.

Nicholson wants the league to play that one remaining regular season game, even if there are no playoffs to come after.

“It would mean so much to me if the team should qualify automatically for the Champions League, it would mean a lot,” he said.

The man who has scored seven goals in 18 appearances for Jamaica believes that the re-start of all the leagues around the world will be tough because teams usually develop momentum along the way as the players become more match ready as the season progresses.

Because of the break, he says, there was no way of telling which teams would start quickly.   

Reggae Boy Tevin Shaw has become the third player from Jamaica to sign up for the newly formed Canadian Premier League.

Shaw will turn out for Atletico Ottawa after signing a two-year deal last Thursday.

The deal ended Shaw’s relationship with Jamaican Red Stripe Premier League outfit, Portmore United.

Before Shaw, Alex Marshall and Nicholas Nelson, were also announced as entrants to the league.

Shaw is hoping that his efforts with Ottawa will mean he finds his way into bigger markets down the line.

“Trying to one the standout players in my role and also be a leader; add few goals, few assists and continue to work my socks off to get a few more national call-ups and take it from there. (Also) to make the transition to a better set-up into the wider world because I aspire to play at the highest level,” said Shaw.

The Canadian Premier League has been suspended until April 11.

Bayer Leverkusen and Reggae Boyz player, Leon Bailey, could become the most expensive transfer in the country’s history if the rumours that Chelsea are preparing an £85 million transfer bid.

The 22-year-old, who has been on and off the radar of English teams over the last two years, scored a wonder goal for Leverkusen against Rangers in the Europa League recently, reminding many of his talent.

Bailey had been on the radar of other top-flight English clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United but after his March 12 strike, Chelsea became favourites to land the player’s signature.

Bailey still has three years left on his contract.

The winger has only had four appearances for the Reggae Boyz following protracted negotiations with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), but has 105 with Leverkusen, notching 24 goals.

His performances for Leverkusen have also created interest from Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, a move that would be agreeable for his agent and father Craig Butler.

However, Leverkusen are not likely to entertain selling to a rival.

Reggae Boyz debutant Kemar Beckford could not have asked for a better first outing with his country after he scored for the outfit in a 2-0 friendly win over Bermuda at the Montego Bay Sports Complex on Wednesday night.

Beckford’s 79th-minute effort was preceded by Jourdaine Fletcher’s 41st-minute goal.

Beckford, a 28-year-old forward who plies his trade for Mount Pleasant Academy in the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL), was tapped for the National team after challenging fellow national, Corey Burke for Golden Boot honours in the RSPL, scoring 14 goals in 2019.

Beckford's most successful season before that came as a Waterhouse player when he scored 12 goals in the 2018 season.

The result extended the Reggae Boyz unbeaten run to seven matches.

Prior to last night’s game, the last the Reggae Boyz were on the losing side of a fixture was against the United States where they lost 3-1 in the Goal Cup in July.

Since then, the Reggae Boyz have beaten Antigua and Barbuda 6-0, Guyana 4-0, Aruba 2-0, Aruba 6-0, Antigua and Barbuda 2-0, and drew with Guyana 1-1.

Jamaica are now ranked 48th in the world and fourth in CONCACAF behind Mexico (11), the United States (22), and Costa Rica (46).

Three new players including 18-year-old Harbour View midfielder Jahshaun Anglin have been included in an all-local 20-man Reggae Boyz squad assembled to play in an international friendly against Bermuda at the Montego Bay Sports Complex on Wednesday.

The squad also includes players who are being afforded another shot at making Jamaica’s provisional squad for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers that begin later this year.

Renaldo Wellington a defender of former Premier League club Montego Bay United has also been called to the squad. According to team manager Roy Simpson, “The coaches have seen something in him that they feel they can build on.”

Lamar Walker has been recalled after recovering from injury and Jamaica’s U23 player Andre Fletcher, is being given an opportunity at the senior level, Simpson said.

Also included in the squad is Peter Lee Vassell, who was recently released by Los Angeles FC in the MLS.

The squad will have a single training session at the UWI/JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence on Tuesday before departing for Montego Bay.

Jamaica has a record of three wins and three draws against the Bermudans. The last of those wins came in 1997 when the Reggae Boyz emerged 3-2 winners in the Caribbean Cup.

The full squad is listed below:

 Andre Fletcher (Waterhouse FC), Ricardo Thomas (Waterhouse FC), Shawn Lawes (Waterhouse FC),  Akeem Chambers (Waterhouse FC), Colorado Murray (Waterhouse FC), Dennis Taylor (Humble Lion FC), Andre Clennon (Humble Lion FC), Ladale Richie (Mt. Pleasant FC), Kevaughn Isaacs (Mt. Pleasant FC), Kemar Beckford (Mt. Pleasant FC), Jourdaine Fletcher (Mt. Pleasant FC),  Ajeanie Talbott (Harbour View FC), Jahshaun Anglin (Harbour View FC), Fabion McCarthy (UWI FC), Javoy Belnavis (UWI FC), Renaldo Wellington (Montego Bay United), Peter Vassel (Unattached), Chevone Marsh (Cavalier SC), Kemal Malcolm (Arnett Gardens) and Lamar Walker (Portmore United FC).

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz are continuing to prepare for an upcoming friendly against Spanish team Catalonia, despite the ongoing disruptions caused by the spread of the coronavirus in Europe.

A total of 73 cases have been identified in Spain so far, as Europe struggles to get the virus under control.  In Catalonia, where the Jamaica national team are expected to face the region at the end of the month, the number of persons infected has reached to 9.

Team manager of the national team Roy Simpson has insisted that while the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) was keeping a watchful eye on the situation, the plans for the friendly so far remained in place.

“We continue to monitor the spread of the coronavirus. We are aware of the first case identified in Catalonia where we’ll be playing the game next month,” Simpson told RJR Radio in a recent interview.

“We’ve not been advised of any travel restrictions there so we continue to monitor that situation and if we get advice that it is unsafe to travel we will have to yield to that. As we speak now, all plans are still in place for travel to the UK and Spain mid next month,” he added.

The Jamaicans are expected to return to action in two week’s time when they face Bermuda in a friendly international on March 11 at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.

 

Reggae Boyz team manager, Roy Simpson, has pledged support for Darren Mattocks and said no decision would be taken regarding his position with the national team until a verdict in the case has been arrived at.

Mattocks will formally be advised of the charges against him on February 27, though reports have already circulated that he has been charged with one count of making a false, fraudulent or incomplete insurance claim, and another count of theft by deception in Carroll Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania.

“When I spoke with him, he was quite private with it. I didn’t press him about it. I just reached out to him to let him understand that the entire nation is aware of what has happened and that if he needs our support in any way, shape or form that he thinks we are capable of executing, we will assist,” Simpson explained on Jamaican radio station Hitz 92 FM during its programme, Sports Grill, earlier this week.

According to reports, the charges stem from a single-car accident on January 20 last year.

The reports, alleged to have come from the Attorney General’s office, said Mattocks and a passenger were aboard a BMW X6 from New York City to Cincinnati on State Route 70, near Monongahela, Pennsylvania, when the Reggae Boy lost control of the vehicle and crashed.

According to those same reports, the insurance on the vehicle had lapsed at the time of the accident and Mattocks is alleged to have taken out a new policy hours after the accident before making a claim.

Still, Simpson does not want to make too many waves until the case is complete.

“I wouldn’t want to pre-empt a verdict because you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you defend a situation and it goes the other way, so everybody is awaiting the outcome,” said Simpson.

The team manager also indicated that Mattocks was confident he would be vindicated when all was said and done.

“When I spoke to him he was quite confident that he would be vindicated so we await,” said Simpson.

The court case may have a very deleterious impact on Mattocks career in the MLS where he plays for FC Cincinnati.

Other reports had suggested that Mattocks, who has scored just three goals in 21 appearances for Cincinnati, was at odds with the coach and, in essence, the franchise.

“He also pointed out and we were aware that the relationship between himself and FC Cincinnati had been strained prior to this situation,” said Simpson, responding to reports that former Cincinnati coach, Ron Jans had said Mattocks was not in the team’s plans this season.

“It is a fact that he had asked to be traded and this situation has put a hurdle in his way. Hopefully, he can get through it and then start playing again,” said Simpson.

Mattocks is being represented by David J Shrager, who has pointed to Mattocks record of being a law-abiding citizen as part proof that the situation is just a misunderstanding.

Mattocks is a veteran of eight years in the MLS, playing in 207 league games and scoring 40 goals for Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers, and DC United, before his move to Cincinnati.

Mattocks has also turned out for the Reggae Boyz 45 times, scoring 15 goals along the way.

“My client respects both the laws of both his native country [Jamaica] and the United States. He has never been in any kind of criminal trouble whatsoever in his life, and this matter is merely a misunderstanding regarding insurance laws here in Pennsylvania. We look forward to clearing up this matter. We have been cooperating with the courts and continue to do so. We look forward to resolving this matter expeditiously,” read a statement from Shrager’s office.

Reggae Boyz striker Darren Mattocks is in hot water as he is facing two felony charges in Pennsylvania, according to media reports from the United States.

The Jamaica national team coach Theodore Whitmore has revealed a friendly next month against the Spanish region of Catalonia will be used to assess players who could potentially represent the Reggae Boyz.

The historic match-up against the Catalonia squad will be one of two matches scheduled for the national team next month.  The Jamaicans are expected to play a match against Bermuda on March 11, before taking on the Spanish region on March 30. 

According to the federation, while the match against Bermuda is expected to consist of mostly local players, the match in Spain will consist of overseas-based players.

“One of the things we will emphasizing is the conditioning of the players and how they can operate in various positions,” Whitmore said of the friendly.

“There isn’t a lot to it.  It’s just for them to go out and enjoy themselves.”

The Reggae Boyz are currently ranked 48th in the world.  The Catalonia national football team is not affiliated with either FIFA or UEFA and is therefore not allowed to participate in either the FIFA World Cup or the UEFA European Championship.  Since 1904, the team has played nearly 200 games against various national, regional and club teams.

 

Kemar Lawrence has always wanted to make the move from Major League Soccer (MLS) to Europe and his move to Belgian giants RSC Anderlecht, is a realisation of that dream but according to website Red Bulls News Network, the move is not solely driven by the player’s football.

According to the website, the Reggae Boy, while known as a fierce competitor on the field, providing yeoman’s service to the club since his time there, his decisions off the field have been problematic.

The website points to sources close to the organization which allege that Lawrence has had issues with the team since Jesse Marsch’s tenure as head coach.

Those sources say one of the many problems Lawrence displayed was a failure to report to the club after international duty.

“In some cases, he would remain out of contact with the team for several days, reportedly turning his phone off,” the website purported.

Red Bulls News Network cited an example last spring where the Philadelphia Union visited the New York stadium and delivered a beating on the team.

Lawrence was down to play in that game after coming off international duty but was a no-show. In contrast, Andre Blake, the Jamaican goalkeeper, who plays for the Union, started the game.

The website alleges that then coach of the Red Bulls, Chris Armas, covered for Lawrence pointing to his exertions during the international outing and being careful after a recent injury.

Hype Projects Agency, the organisation in charge of Lawrence’s career has denied the website’s claims, saying the left-back’s trade had everything to do with Anderlecht’s will to sign the player.

“Our client’s transfer was based solely on RSC Anderlecht’s desire to sign Kemar, regarded as one of, if not the best left-back in the MLS.  As our vision for Kemar’s growth we felt the timing and contract offer was in-line with where a player of his ability should be,” said Director of Soccer, Kevin Weinress.

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