Barnes saw it coming... but coach 'disappointed' he was cut ahead of Gold Cup
Kwesi Mugisa, Staff Reporter
GIVEN the financial position of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), John Barnes had resigned himself to the fact that his contract as head coach of the Reggae Boyz would not have been extended.
What he wasn't counting on though, is the JFF severing ties ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
"I think we knew that given the financial constraints the contract would not have been renewed, especially with the team failing to make the final round of the World Cup qualifiers," Barnes said, following Jamaica's 3-2 victory over Panama in a friendly international at the National Stadium on Sunday night.
Barnes took charge of thenational programme last November, in the aftermath of the dismissal of Brazilian technical director Ren? Simoes, and initially signed up for a seven-month deal that was slated to end at the conclusion of the July 4-26 Gold Cup, which will be held in the United States.
With only a few days left until its expiration, the JFF on Sunday took the decision to terminate the contract.
"It was a bit disappointing. I was looking forward to going to the Gold Cup. I expected to, but have to respect the JFF's decision to give coach Whitmore time to prepare for what will be a long and difficult journey ahead," Barnes noted.
English League One team Tranmere Rovers, the team of Reggae Boy Ian Goodison, had already accepted the former England international. But Barnes would have continued on as head coach of the programme until the end of next month's CONCACAF Gold Cup, a showdown of the region's best teams and top coaches.
Jamaica qualified for the tournament by virtue of winning the Digicel Caribbean Championship, under the leadership of Barnes, in December.
The job of leading the national team has now fallen to assistant coach Theodore Whitmore, who has been given a one-year contract by the JFF.
The locally based Whitmore has already twice been named interim senior national football head coach, temporarily taking over the programme after the sacking of both Serbian coach Velibor 'Bora' Milutinovic, who was replaced by Simoes, and the subsequent sacking of Simoes.
Although Whitmore successfully led the team to three crucial home wins in the closing rounds of the CONCACAF Wold Cup qualifying semi-finals, which saw Jamaica narrowly miss out on progression, it appeared to have been the consensus at the time by the JFF that the former Reggae Boy did not have the necessary experience or stature to lead the national team.
Change of heart
It would appear, however, that the JFF has had a change of heart.
"We thought it necessary to give coach Whitmore enough time to prepare for the upcoming tournament," head of the JFF, captain Horace Burrell, said.
"We have been paying close attention to coach Whitmore over the last few months and have no doubts that he can successfully lead the team," he added.
Originally not expected to join Tranmere until after the Gold Cup in July, Barnes will now report to the club for preseason training.
In an unbeaten 10-match stint in charge of the national senior team, the former Liverpool great recorded a largely successful tour of duty with six victories and four draws.