Yeah, I'm not so sure I buy it either. Photo by: - Jamie Squire
Paul Mariner and Earl Cochrane claim they didn't sign the players to start the season, that they could presumably do a better job with their contacts, yet blamed their poor record squarely on losing the players that Winter signed. This is how not to spin a story.
Today Toronto FC trotted out player after player to wrap up the season, if we can call it a season, and Dave Rowaan offers an excellent summary of the day's activities. John Molinaro offers a good one too, specific to the Managers we may be putting our trust in for the coming season.
I'm offering no such summary. I'm writing in an effort to lower my blood pressure after listening to Earl Cochrane and Paul Mariner attempt to explain the season and why they deserve to lead our team into 2013.
The theory goes that they inherited a team that wasn't theirs, and while presumably saving puppies in their spare time, managed to post a record that was respectable before injuries took their toll. Stop me if you've heard it before.
It's a nice tidy explanation, which would in theory, provide hope and optimism for even the most skeptical fan. Except of course, it doesn't make a lick of sense when you examine the facts.
Paul Mariner: "The guys that were here after those first 10 games were ultimately (Winter's) call."
Ok, interesting point.
If those guys that were here after those first 10 games were ultimately Winter's call that must include Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans? These are players Mariner/Cochrane essentially admitted that they didn't recruit.
Paul Mariner :"It's difficult to win MLS games when you basically have your reserve team playing week in and week out"
Sure it is. The players that were out week in and week out were (Manager responsible for signing them in brackets):
- Frings (Winter)
- Koevermans (Winter)
- Frei (Johnston)
- Harden (Preki)
- Cann (Preki)
- Williams (Winter)
- ... and occasionally, Hassli (Mariner).
Now its time to connect the dots.
Mariner claims that the players that were here after the first 10 games were not his, effectively trying to distance himself from the failure to start the season.
He then goes on to a 14 game winless streak to close out the season and blames it on losing the players... that were not his.... as a reason his record is not competitive?
If the implication is that Winter did a poor job on player recruitment, why were these players, the majority of whom were Winter's, so critical to your failure when they were injured?
Maybe he isn't implying Winter did a poor job on player recruitment?
Earl Cochrane: "We would make recommendations, we would present him with (possible MLS trades) or players we could acquire (from outside MLS). He would have his own sources and he would decide whether to take that information, whether to go forward with it, whether to ignore, but it was ultimately his decision.
"In MLS, he didn't have the contacts that Paul and I had, so if trades were being offered, if we had thoughts about how we could move or construct certain things, he would listen to what we have and ultimately make a decision or not make a decision or decide to go forward or not go forward..."
Ok, so one of the two IS implying Winter did a poor job on player recruitment. Or at the very least, that they could do better.
This is supposed to be confidence inspiring? That big, bad Winter... who apparently signed players that when injured were critical to the record... is no longer in charge and we now have knowledgeable leaders with a history of making great trades at the helm?
Let's explore the recommendations that we absolutely know Mariner and/or Cochrane have executed when given the chance:
- Nathan Sturgis for a 1st Round Pick
- Julian de Guzman for Andrew Weideman
- Eric Hassli for a 1st Round Pick
- Quincy Amerikwa for a 3rd round pick
- Nick Soolsma for nothing
- Joao Plata on loan (so for nothing)
- Freddy Hall and Darren O'Dea on contracts
With the exception of O'Dea, I'm not seeing the astute, confidence inspiring track record of acquiring talent. In fact, post transfer window the team went 0-9-4.
An interesting side bar stat is that Toronto was 0-5-3 in MLS games in which Hassli started. This was the player Cochrane and Mariner traded the future for in an effort to win games now. He was an absolute failure in that regard.
I'm not at all suggesting that Hassli is a horrible player. What I am suggesting that it was a colossal misjudgment of what the team truly needed at that point in time. Teams needing to rebuild often shed veterans for assets. It is an extremely high price for a player that was to be released by Vancouver for nothing in the offseason and added nothing to the team's current record.
Forgive me for being skeptical about how Mariner/Cochrane's abilities to find and acquire players is so vastly superior to anything we have ever had over 6 seasons. Forgive me too if the trade for Hassli sounds a lot like how Cochrane described the trade for Nathan Sturgis. Said Cochrane, "we are very happy to be able to bring Nathan (Sturgis) to the club. He is a player who will be able to make an immediate impact in our team next season, but is also young enough to play a role here in the long term. We studied the options that would likely be available to us with our first round pick in the MLS SuperDraft and made the decision that the addition of Nathan is of greater benefit to our squad."
TFC would have been in a position to draft Will Bruin, CJ Sapong or Michael Farfan. Clearly, a misjudgment of both talent and team needs.
With that we come to the one quote that got me to fire up the old iMac and write to anyone that is left to care. Here is a beauty.
Earl Cochrane: "We think we're going to be in a position to challenge for a playoff spot."
... for as long as possible into the regular season?
Seriously. I'm tired of the drivel. Take ownership, do something about it and stop blaming others for where you are. Other teams talk about ultimately winning a title. Maybe not in the current year but in the years ahead. I'm left with your awe-inspiring vision to be in a position to challenge for a playoff spot?
The cupboards are bare. The team is in need of depth. Hanging your hat on the health of 3 hospital patients is as ridiculous as me believing there is actually a plan. Yet, I'm to get all thrilled that you THINK you will be a in a position to challenge for a playoff spot? Based on what, Earl? Based on what?
Professional writers look for that one statement to close out a piece. A catchy, creative one liner that says all that needs to be said. While folks like Mark Twain may never have uttered these words, I'm sure there are times when he might have. I'll take the liberty of speaking for him and other creative geniuses when I say:
For F$%! sakes, I need a beer.