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End of an era as Whitmore walks away

RESIGNED: Theodore Whitmore left the Reggae Boyz after bad results (PA)

THEODORE WHITMORE'S untenable position as head coach of Jamaica ended on Wednesday with his resignation after 58 games at the helm.

Whitmore, twice the interim coach of the national side, had been in charge since 2009 but the 40-year-old was pushed into a corner by the Jamaican Football Federation (JFF) to either resign or be sacked following the third World Cup qualifying defeat over a dismal eight day spell for the Reggae Boyz.

But it was his side’s lacklustre display in their torrid 2-0 defeat at the Honduras National Stadium on Tuesday that was the final nail in the coffin.

Yet there were already calls for Whitmore to leave his J$1M (£6,400) a month role following a string of poor results that put their dreams of qualifying for next summer’s World Cup finals in severe jeopardy.

Whitmore was rushed into an emergency meeting with JFF president Captain Horace Burrell just two hours after the final whistle in Tegucigalpa, and Whitmore claimed that he was asked to resign and had every intention to do so.

Yet the ex-midfield general for the Boyz, with over a century of caps and a former recipient of the coveted Caribbean Footballer of the Year award, resigned rather than suffer the axe being wielded on his long-term association with the national team since 1993.

After the Honduras tie, their fourth World Cup qualifying defeat on the bounce, nervous Whitmore admitted in the post-match press conference: “Once you’re hired you can be fired!”

Captain Burrell explained: “A coach’s tenure depends on the results, which have not been good. I have, without any reservation, accepted coach Whitmore’s resignation.

“Coach Whitmore has gained tremendous experience and there are other areas in which that experience can be used. But as it relates to the Reggae Boyz, team coach Whitmore has resigned.”

Whitmore became the second Jamaican coach to lose his job following a World Cup reversal in Honduras, and ironically he had stepped up from assistant coach to take over the mantle of axed boss Rene Simoes in an interim role in September 2008.


BACK IN THE DAY: Whitmore when he played for the Boyz in 1999 (PA)

He continued his impressive spell with the Boyz, notching victories in the remaining three World Cup qualifying home ties, only to narrowly miss out on progressing from the group stages due to inferior goal difference to Mexico.

As a result, Whitmore was replaced by Jamaican-born English international John Barnes in late 2008 but was reinstated the following June when Barnes resigned. And he guided the Boyz to take the 2010 Caribbean Cup, which was an impressive feat having stuttered throughout 2009.

Captain Burrell remains optimism that the Boyz can still reach the 2014 World Cup finals in Rio, although finishing in fourth place to earn a two legged play-off against New Zealand is a more realistic target than an automatic qualifying berth by finishing in the top three of the six team group.

The Boyz travel to Panama on September 6, tackle Costa Rica in Kingston on September 10, visit table-topping USA on October 11 before concluding their World Cup qualifying campaign with a home tie against Honduras on October 15.

Captain Burrell said: “We’re still in the qualifying. All is not lost, there is still hope.

“We still have in place the management staff and we will not want to dismantle the aggregation there.

“Though it may be considered slim, we still have a chance and will ask the public to continue supporting the programme.”

The Boyz face an uphill struggle to sneak into fourth place, having yet to register a victory in six outings under Whitmore, sitting rock bottom of the group with two points and already four points behind fifth-placed Panama having played one match more.

The writing was on the wall for Whitmore to throw in the towel as head coach because his conservative tactics of soaking up the pressure but not aiming to score goals have left the Boyz severely off the pace in the race for Rio.

Montego Bay-born Whitmore’s legacy with the Boyz will never be forgotten, although his recent style of play and his predictable gamble of throwing three attackers on for the last 20 minutes out of sheer desperation may not be forgiven by the modern-day fans who expected entertainment, goals and positive results.

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