The standard for how to convert the tagline "bloody big deal" to suit recent events has yet to emerge: although "bloody big disappointment" might be the leading candidate. Either way, it's telling of a marketing campaign that was horribly out of sync with what ended up developing on the field, and therefore one that was a leader in the overhype that made everything worse.
The 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution that represented the last game of the season is the kind of result it will be remembered for: uninspiring, lacklustre and downright painful to watch. In the stretch that eliminated them from playoff contention, Toronto lost all synchronization and are now in shambles as result.
The match with New England was probably the least inspiring of all. For most it, Toronto seemed more interested in the injustice dealt to them by the referee instead of the actual match that was being played. The team played straight into the hands of the narrative coming in: that this game was meaningless.
People who are wiser than I when it comes to the subject of whether or not it was the right call that led to Lee Nguyen's standing seem to be leaning towards yes, so Toronto don't even have that leg to stand on. It seemed like a terrible call, but Toronto have used such things as excuses all year that have shielded from their real underlying issues.
In this regard Greg Vanney was far superior to Ryan Nelsen in the sense that he rarely made such excuses. But the further the team got from the playoffs the more even he, mr.logical, seemed to also lose the plot.
His tenure at this club should, and almost certainly will be, over. Lasting the duration between two horrid matches against New England. The cards were never in his favour, but he didn't seem to have many cards of his own either, hardly his fault at this stage in his coaching career. He had different faults from Nelsen, probably less in the grand scheme of things, but the results speak for themselves: 9-9-6 under Nelsen and 2-6-2 under Vanney.
Nelsen might not have made the playoffs, but it's hard to argue that things could have gone any worse as the team spent the last part of the year throwing itself off the cliff instead of trying to cling on. Because if anything says cliff jumping, it's starting Kyle Bekker. Midfield composition in general always tended to go wrong for Vanney.
Toronto FC have historically never had a good midfield, likely the biggest of their many on field faults. For most of this year it seemed like that would be different. From the first match of the year onwards there were games where Toronto's midfield was every bit as solid as the sum of its pieces should have been.
Collen Warner, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio, Jackson and others all showed that they are excellent midfielders. They just don't fit together and make a nice puzzle. They were also dreadfully misused by both managers. Osorio and Bradley were the only two midfielders who could play well together, but rarely got the chance.
Every facet of TFC's on field game have had instances that contributed to their demise. But it was the midfield that truly broke during the final stand. The offense was dreadful as well, but the lack of service was what it has always been with this club. The defending wasn't great, but improved when the team was at full strength.
All of this added up to a TFC side that gave off a sense of deja-vu. Something that is never, ever, a good sign. Not only were they losing, they were giving off little hope or excitement in the process. This was a team completely out of ideas when the public was constantly clamoring for more.
There is an argument to be made that considering injuries this was actually a decent year for Toronto. It is telling that Jermain Defoe, Bloody Big Deal's namesake, was not on the field for the final match of the season. He, and most other important players, were injured consistently throughout the year.
But with the way the way management marketed the team the only option for decency was a playoff berth. According to billboards and public comments that was the bare minimum. They oversold and club that always under delivers, and didn't seem to take into consideration how wrong this all could go.
Usually Toronto FC's season ends with some sort of positive. There is always some sort of distorted hope for the future that keeps everyone around. But after this season it is incredibly hard to have anything to look forward to, which is troubling.