I hate to be a party pooper, but despite winning a fourth straight Canadian title and FINALLY winning a game in the 2012 MLS season...we've still got a problem. Instead of letting these achievements be a covering for the big picture, there's one big problem we have yet to address.
I don't pretend to know the inner workings of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (nor do I want to know), but as a western observer it seems to me that they treat their teams as cash cows, gouging fans for inferior product and generally focusing on the bottom line instead of results that will make people want to pay top dollar for the product -- if it was something else, consumer beat reporters would be salivating at the idea of covering this story.
And after seeing five coaches in five years, the coming and going of arguably one of the worst managers in history and the subsequent damage that will take years for his successors to clean up, the current situation does not need yet another coaching change...no, ladies and gentlemen, I say the real first step to solving the woes that continue to plague TFC is to fire Tom Anselmi -- NOW.
From the very beginning, the hiring of Mo Johnston was a bad idea -- his record was lacklustre (at best) with the Metrostars (a.k.a. the New York Red Bulls), and to give him free reign was the first spark of this tragedy. Four years later, we're still saddled with the reputation he's left for the Reds amongst players, staff and supporters. You'd think after two (let alone three) poor seasons, that a coach or GM would be fired.
But alas, no. Anselmi and his team were fooled by Johnston's "five year plan", which by the time he was fired it was painfully obvious that it was a complete sham -- a season of Prekiball to me was the icing on that proverbial cake. However, no sooner did the dust settle after the bum rush that Johnston so rightfully deserved was delivered, the management once again showed a lack of basic knowledge of how to run a football club, nor the desire to take responsibility for such a task.
On paper, the hiring of Jurgen Klinsmann SOUNDS like a great idea...until you find that it was just to have him rebuild the organization. Instead of hiring someone on full-time to oversee the reconstruction and to see the project through, a contractor (albeit a very knowledgeable one) was sent into the fray instead, which as we've found out...has solved absolutely nothing. You'd have to wonder -- what was the motivation for hiring someone like that, on a contract?
Surely MLSE cannot cry poverty when they were able to afford the $10 million expansion fee to enter the league, and also afford to start an academy...without realizing that someone with actual experience winning as a COACH or a MANAGER works better than someone who has had success as a player (which is a whole different kettle of fish)? Was Frank Yallop, twice an MLS Cup winning coach, not available in 2007? Was he so expensive to repatriate? What about Bruce Arena or a Thomas Rongen, also MLS Cup winning coaches with D.C. United?
Even if hindsight is 20-20, it really does speak to either absolute desperation, outright ignorance, blind faith or a combination of all three, on the part of MLSE (in this case, represented by Anselmi and his crew) when it came to starting off on the right foot.
To make matters worse, Anselmi and his team has yet to take any responsibility for the actions he and his team have taken -- rather taking positive spins that would make Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf (a.k.a. the Iraqi Information Minister) sound as objective as Peter Mansbridge. It's easy to blame the coaches for the on-field product, but we must not forget that it is the executives that helped to create such a situation, and they cannot be absolved for their part of the crime.
To pick Mo Johnston, keeping him on for three years when he clearly had no plan, firing him and then asking Jurgen Klinsmann to what new hairdo makes the team look better, followed by Aron Winter and his insistence on the 4-3-3, and then never really taking all that much responsibility...and I still haven't even really looked at the impact of inane friendlies, and constant ticket price hikes, and even the ever-changing kits.
All those above have formed a toxic combo that has led us to where we are today -- and in order for us to really experience better times, Tom Anselmi must be shown the door. The house cleaning two years ago was only half done...it's time for us to demand that the other half be completed immediately. Be it tifos from the South End or letters to the editor, the message must be clear: Tom Anselmi must go. Now.