So, there it is, Aron Winter gone, fired from the first team coach position and with too much pride and dignity to hang around in some vague job upstairs, so described as 'stepped down'. Paul Mariner in as head coach. Maybe it's for the best, a lot of what was said at the press conference I agree with, and let's face it Winter really wasn't doing well at the short term results focused first team part of the job. Maybe he should have never been in that job in the first place, instead more suited to a technical director kind of position. All that's for another post and something I'll get to over the weekend, taking it out of the context of Toronto FC's previous history and trying to look objectively as to how this will change things and help the club go forward.
For now though, I need a depressed and rambly rant, that is all about that context, the fact that the revolving door has chewed up and spat out another one. That's 6 ex-coaches now in 5 seasons + 10 games, all except 1 of them (and this trend continues with Paul Mariner) with minimal experience as a head coach before taking on the job. Despite the constant change at the lower managerial level, things do remain stable at the top, and of course who was right there again at yet another bad news press conference but Teflon Tom Anselmi himself, and more than anything through the press conference, it was Anselmi who repeatedly infuriated and depressed me, exemplifying and reminding us all of just what has led us to this point, that TFC is very much an MLSE team.
As much as anything it was his body language, sitting back in his chair, alternately scowling, smirking and looking disinterested, for all the world like a man who knows he's only got a few more months of this before he can move on to bigger things and forget all about this goddamn soccer team.
There was all the usual platitudes about the great fanbase and how they deserve better, - "we've been really lucky since day 1. We've got this amazing fanbase here, but we haven't delivered the goods and you can't take that for granted..." mixed in with plenty of bits of arrogance throughout the conference.
There was condescension - "Is there a question there Nigel?", and denial of responsibility when the matter of how many times he's had to do this was brought up- "I've hired two people in this organisation" (let's see, I'd guess he means Mo Johnston and Aron Winter, but then where did Jurgen Klinsmann come from, and how about Paul Beirne eh Tom?).
There was denial of a real problem for him, and an indication of how seriously he takes all this - "Ultimately I'm held accountable to our board, but that's a whole organisation, not just a soccer club"
There was even defiant boasting in the face of critical media questions - "I talk to the league all the time, they think we're a great soccer market, a great franchise, a great organisation,. all that sort of stuff..."
There are three quotes that really sum up just how this whole grand shitshow came to be. First up there's this, from when he was asked about what his responsibility for all this is.
"Ultimately, the buck stops with me....my job is to put the right people in place, I don't coach, I don't play, I don't do any of that stuff"
No you don't Tom, and you never have, so maybe you can explain just how it is that you came to be and continue to be the President, the one making all the big decisions, would it not be best to have someone in there who knows a little bit about the game?
Or maybe at least cares enough to know the basics of club history (all 5 years of it !), this quote came when Mariner was trying to sugarcoat things, and say it wasn't all bad, there was that one year they came within a point of making the playoffs, so they've been close (I'm not even going to approach that particular point).
"back in oh seven"
Good god man, are you really that ignorant or forgetful, or just plain disdainful that you can't even remember the very basics of which year the club was formed and which year they eventually, almost, did something?
Next up, there's this one, when acknowledging supporters frustrations.
"...we had a free pass for a few years as an expansion franchise, and now it's time to step up to the plate..."
No you didn't Tom. You didn't have a free pass. Yes you had a surprisingly popular team, but that doesn't mean you can just ignore things, that supporters don't care, that you have carte blanche to half arse it while increasing prices in the stands. You should have been taking that success, and all the extra unbudgeted money it brought in and running with it, taking advantage of it to get a step up on the rest of the league. Look at Seattle, they were an expansion team when they went out and paid the price to illegally poach Sigi Schmid, then brought in Freddie Ljungberg as a designated player. Why couldn't you do that? Why did it take into the 3rd year before a DP was brought in? Why until year 4 before a coach with any experience was hired? Why did it take signs of illness in the golden goose before you did anything pro active to improve the team?
Add it all together, the lack of knowledge, the lack of caring and the idea that they were quite happy to coast on their initial lucky success, that there was no need to be really pushing towards this whole successful, respectable football club thing, as long as the supporters were still coming and spending their money. It's all very MLSE, it's all everything supporters have been complaining about for years now.
Will Anselmi be fired? Of course not, as he so brazenly pointed out, TFC is a very minor corner of the feifdom, and more likely than anything, The Teflon Tom will be moving on up to take over Richard Peddie's position. But for the love of god Tom, please prove us wrong, prove you do know something about football, prove you do care at least a little bit about TFC, prove you do see a need for meaningful change.
How do you do that? By not hiring someone like you to fill your position. Don't saddle TFC with another MLSE company man with a whole bunch of other concerns as well. Give us a president with a footballing background, an eminence grise there to advise Mariner when necessary and act as a go between with him and the board. Better yet, don't hire anyone, have Mariner or whoever else is in charge report directly to the board. However it happens, please leave TFC as soon as you can, and please don't leave us with another version of you.