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A Toronto FC Christmas Carol: Part 2

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Sven87 continues his holiday epic with the second part of a Toronto FC Christmas Carol. In this edition Presideezer Scrooge talks to the ghost of Toronto FC present.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

New TFC executive Presideezer Scrooge sat in the stands of BMO Field, contemplating everything that Jim Brennan’s Ghost had just shown and taught him. Just before disappearing, the ghost had added his final revelation- "My time with you is done", Pres had been told... "and you will be visited by a second spectre upon your relief." Pres struggled to understand the latter part of the ghost’s final message, but chose not to dwell on it.

After downing the final bit of his $14 large draft beer (he had only paid for it because this was the past, when his position with the club did not yet exist), Pres raced down to the washroom and waited the standard 20 minutes in line to use the facilities. As he stepped back out into the concourse, Pres immediately noticed that his surroundings had reverted back- he had now returned to the present time. Fans were walking about with current players’ names on their kits, the concession stands’ menus were more comprehensive, and delicious beer choices of BMO past had suddenly been replaced by domestic sludge.

As he was taking in all the changes, he was almost run over by a portly woman walking briskly toward him. "Watch where you’re going!" Shouted Pres. The woman stopped and turned, glaring back at him. "Don’t worry about ME! You should be worried about yourself, and TFC. Are you done in the washroom? Feeling relieved?" Pres’ face froze as he recalled the prophecy foretold by Brennan’s ghost. He also only now noticed that the woman had… almost… a translucent appearance about her. After rubbing his eyes a couple times, and squinting ever so slightly as he focused in on her facial features, Pres also started to realize that he had seen the woman before, mostly in news reports from sources both legitimate and not-so-credible.

"Aren’t you... Sandra? Jermain Defoe’s mo…" "I AM THE GHOST OF TFC PRESENT" exclaimed the woman, in response. "But yes, I am also the ghost of Jermain’s caring, ever-present (author’s note: and still living) Mum!" The Ghost continued - "Now I’m not one to beat around the bush, so I’m going to tell you how it is. My boy doesn’t want to play for a dysfunctional club. NOBODY does. Get your ducks in a row, turn off the coaching carrousel, get the team’s management set, establish your supporting squad, THEN you should find yourself a DP! THAT’S when, and how, you successfully recruit and use a designated player spot.

Let’s take a look at how all the wonderful DPs TFC has had in the past are now doing…" And with that, Sandra’s ghost tucked on Pres’ sleeve and he again found himself lost in a hazy bout of vertigo. When Pres came to, he found himself in a small rustic village in Spain. The town was quaint, with a population of less than 30,000. The Ghost of Jermain Defoe’s mother pointed to the window of an elegantly built, modest house- the house of Mista’s family. "Do you remember this man?", asked Sandra- "He used to play for Toronto FC. Scored a well-taken strike from the edge of the box against Cruz Azul in a Concacaf Champions League game."

"He also played in La Liga, and for Spain internationally…" Sandra’s ghost’s voice trailed off. "Must have been a fantastic pick-up then!" Shouted Pres. "A Spanish international, with experience in one of the top 3 leagues in the world, who can score against tough Mexican opposition??" "Not so fast!" warned the ghost. "He only played 2 games for Spain's senior team. He was 31 when Toronto FC picked him up- his career was declining, rapidly. And then he only played 9 MLS league matches, going goalless, and recording only one assist. And now here he is, a man who wishes he could have that half-year of his life back, that he could have stayed in Spain and retired close to his family. Toronto FC’s management, and their typical rush to sign what they perceived to be a big name, proven player, came back to bite both them, and Mista, right in the ass".

The Ghost grabbed Pres’ arm, and the two were again whirling through the air, travelling through their newfound dimension. Next they visited Julian De Guzman’s family in Europe, and listened to him talk to both his agent and his relatives about his frustration and inability to find a club. Pres and the Ghost then took a trip to see Danny Koevermans, and watched as he recounted to Dutch youth stories of playing for "the worst team in the world", and how amazing he could have been if TFC had signed him at an earlier age- before the injuries started piling up.

And finally, they stopped in at Torsten Frings’ office in Bremen. "But… Torsten was somewhat of a success…" started Pres. "Didn’t he captain the team for multiple seasons, providing a solid presence in both midfield and the back four while capably stepping up to take set pieces for the club?" The Ghost of Sandra Defoe responded. "Torsten was a very capable player, even though he was picked up by Toronto in the later stages of his career. However, his impact was limited- they were often forced to play him in the back four, which isn’t his natural position, because of roster mis-management. He also succumbed to injuries during his time at TFC, in part due to poor squad rotation- especially for an older player. I mean, imagine if he (and the whole team) were managed correctly- how much more of an impact he could have made? How much more of this we would have seen?"

The Ghost continued, "And Torsten ended up essentially being forced into retirement… although, even with everything he went through at Toronto, he still willingly accepted it, understanding that it would free up cap space & a DP slot and help the team in the long run. The man is truly an ambassador, and yes, he still has a good, productive relationship with the team- but that’s more a testament to the character of Torsten Frings, than any kind of competence shown by the TFC brass of yesteryear."

Pres stood silent for a moment, pondering the wisdom imparted by the ghost. Almost as if reading his mind, Sandra’s Ghost chimed in some extra advice, more pertinent to Pres’ task at hand: "Look, for what it’s worth, as much as I love Jermain and hype him up to the teams I want him to play for… talking off the record, just make sure to be absolutely certain that a player is going to be worth the hassle and money before going out to buy him. Now I know Jermain was part of the wave of players that pushed out your little bulldog Matias Laba - but maybe there’s another one of him out there?"

"Or at least there may be another young, fiery player that your scouts have noticed, with a lot of promise! Now talking on the record, I think that Jermain is of course much more valuable than ANY young South American stud… and as soon as I finalize his sale in January, you’ll be sorry!!" Pres was listening intently. He thought about how to manage the current DP situation, and what changes would have to be made in the off-season. He thought of the scouting network, and how to maximize their effectiveness in finding the next young up-and-coming star. He was finally beginning to grasp that teams need to win games to be successful- and more importantly, that a clear strategy had to be defined in order to get that winning product out onto the field…