Carolina Morace (3rd from left) was hired as coach of the Canadian women's team in 2009. (Getty Images)
Rarely is there smoke without fire. The rumours had been doing the rounds for months. Despite on field success, disharmony was festering away from the pitch. Patience, on both sides, had worn paper thin until, finally, it was torn apart.
Carolina Morace is renowned for her coaching ability. Her knowledge of the game, her connections, and her international reputation is impeccable. To her players she is simply an inspiration. Morace doesn't hope for the best - she demands success.
She is not known for diplomacy. Morace pushes her employers as hard as she pushes her players. She is a driven, passionate Italian who has spent most of her life fighting for true acceptance and a credible voice in a male dominated sport.
It is that motivation which brought her here in the first place. Frustrated and dissatisfied with indifference towards women's soccer in her home country, Morace recognised a potential to elevate the game's profile in Canada.
Early in 2009, in broken English, Morace set out her stall. She expected her players to work hard and play beautiful football. Her vision was laudable but many doubted she could transform a dump and chase team into an efficient pass and move unit.
Team reborn under Morace
Her English has improved in the last two years, just like her team. It didn't happen immediately - it was never going to. It was a learning process for coach and players alike but, little by little, Morace's methods began to bear fruit.
Crucially the players embraced the new style and the benefits it brought. Many were products of the rigid Evan Pellerud regime but were prepared to go back to basics to improve their skills and thereby their understanding of the game.
Kara Lang told me recently how they literally went back to square one. As in how to pass a ball. Morace had first to assess the talent at her disposal. The Italian had to find out what the players were capable of before moving forward and remodelling the style.
Lang was forced to retire recently having featured in only a handful of games for Morace. At the ridiculously tender age of 24, Lang is an ex-player. She insists there are no regrets - except she was denied the chance to play more for Morace's Canada.
Her admiration is mirrored by Lang's former teammates. Christine Sinclair is one of the best female players on the planet and has been for years. She has nothing to prove in women's soccer, yet the Canadian captain admits Morace has elevated even her game.
Diana Matheson's face lights up when asked about Morace's influence. It is no coincidence the dynamic midfielder more than doubled her international goal tally in 2010 alone. Matheson's role has become pivotal in transforming defence into, and supporting, attack.
Morace is loved by her players, so why the messy divorce? And why now, with her methods allowing not only the players but Canadian fans to believe success is possible at the Women's World Cup this summer? Which was the straw that broke the camel's back?
Morace has a job to do
Funding and control are almost certainly to blame. Morace is not the first, and won't be the last coach to demand more of both only to run into a roadblock of bureaucracy. From her viewpoint she has a job to do and needs the tools to do it.
She doesn't have time to wait for committees to evaluate her requests. She's fighting for her program, her staff and her players. Morace knows she is bargaining from a position of strength and is impatient for progress and reward.
Soccer coaches, or managers, are headstrong characters. They have to be to survive in an ultra competitive environment where one bad result can cost them their job. Taking tough decisions is an occupational hazard and the buck always stops at their door.
Brian Clough was idolized by players and fans. He was despised by those who ran the game. There was a time when he was an obvious candidate to become England manager. The Football Association didn't want a rebel running the team or, worse, telling them how to administer the sport. The FA ran screaming into the more moderate arms of Ron Greenwood and later Bobby Robson.
Jose Mourinho is a modern day Clough. Tactically astute, wildly outspoken, with a disdain for authority, but with a bulging trophy cabinet to accompany his colossal ego. Like Clough, he is merely an employee, but everyone knows who's really in charge.
I sense the timing of Morace's announcement was no accident. She was well aware of the CSA's reform vote and believed she could force the hand of members by calling their bluff. If they really wanted her to stay, perhaps enough would vote for change sooner rather than later.
When the dust had settled, we discovered the turkeys had, indeed, voted for Christmas. But a few more Yuletides must pass before their total extinction. Ms. Morace isn't prepared to wait. The CSA isn't prepared to be bullied. Let's enjoy the ride while we still can.
Follow Nigel Reed on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/Nigel_Reed
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