Well that didn't take long did it? Less than 48 hours after Elliotte Freidman first put word out to twitter that Leiweke would be 'leaving soon', and with various denials put out there via the media and then in his own words, comes clarification. MLSE officially announcing today that Leiweke would be leaving the company as of June 30 2015 or until a successor is appointed (does that mean he might leave sooner, or that he'll stick around for longer if he has to?).
So then, exactly 2 years after he took over, a ridiculously short stint really, and an exit that leaves a bit of a sour taste as no-one can possibly say his job is done, though progress has undeniably been made in many areas. Whether it's Bell and Rogers' board room influence or Leiweke's own personality, things have definitely got a lot more ambitious during his time here.
The guessing can now begin over who might replace him and what management style he might bring (No idea really, but I'll confidently predict a little less bombastic.) but looking at it from TFC's perspective, it's likely we'll slink back into the shadows, back to little brother status after our brief period of being treated importantly. That may or may not be a bad thing, our flashy big signings are all locked in for a while so if the new guy just decides to let things be and leave Tim Bezbatchenko to get on with the business of improving things around them, that'd probably be better than having someone come in with new ideas and another change in direction. But that's all for the future. For now, let's trawl through the archives for a look back at the year and a bit we've had so far with Big Tim, the eye rolling hype and big talk, and the follow through, for better or worse.
The big hyped special announcement of the Roma friendly happened a few days before his official arrival, but it very much fits with his style, so I'll throw that in as the first sign of his style. Soon after his arrival, the big name talk started, mainly with Diego Forlan which was the big is he or isn't he story of last summer's window.
That window of course ended with Max Urruti as the big signing, which obviously didn't impress and so it was that Kevin Payne was fired after less than a year, amid much talk of bringing in 2 big players one from the EPL one from Serie A. and oh yeah, the Argos. boom. A season ticket price freeze was promised amid all the confusion and worry. and oh yeah, Urruti, that guy we chased for ages, he's gone. All very shambolic.
Tim Bezbtachenko was hired, amid talk of scouting trips to find some big Italian DP and amid talk of no spin, just action (which sounded suspiciously like spin, but oh well.) More argos talk - the pitch has to be grass, not artificial!)
Gilberto was announced, and reports from England were that Jermain Defoe had also agreed to join up in January.
He did come in January, as did Michael Bradley, bloody big deals and why can't we be great? Huh this guy can follow through on his big talk.
Sadly his big talk wasn't just about improving the team, there were marketing relationships with Tottenham (wonder what that might bring?) more argo related reports came out, as did musings on being a superclub, and touring Asia within 2 years! All neatly summed up by the Yorkies, and Barry, the Leiwekeleaks ass.
Once the season got up and running, the global superclub hype thankfully slowed, and Leiweke faded more into the background, though the Argos plan gained speed, presented to the public and to TFC season ticket holders, along with promises of coming to ask fans for a raise when TFC make the playoffs, and oh yeah, no home games until May for the next two seasons. Though the current status of that whole deal is the Argos aren't in, it's pretty much a done deal, once somebody blinks and the cash is found, they'll be here in all their hybrid grass, washable lines glory.
And now here we are, he'll be gone long before any real judgements on his time here can be made, but what can be said about his time here so far?
Well, it's certainly been entertaining, he talked about bringing the patient off life support and he certainly did his bit to jolt the club back to life, back into the concsiousness of fans and the city as a whole. On the pitch, things certainly seem better, Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe are certainly nice to have out there. Tim Bezbatchenko seems like a very wise appointment, doing a good job of the slow and unsexy work of building the squad around the big signings. Is Ryan Nelsen really the man to take the improved squad to where it should eventually be, the higher echelons of the league? That's still an unknown, though if he fails hopefully Bez, with the backing of whoever comes in to replace Leiweke will still be able to bring in the high profile name with a track record that the player expenditure deserves. Leiweke certainly gave me confidence that whether through the force of personality or a giant wheelbarrow full of MLSE money, he'd do what it takes to get someone good in, will the new guy show the same commitment?
So yes, as far as the team goes, things look a lot better since his arrival, but that does come with a lot of other stuff doesn't it? The extra hype and commercialism, the ubiquitous promotions and sponsorships, fireworks and 'I just can't get enough' on the loudspeakers after a win (we're perilously close to goal music, if Leiweke leaving lessens the possibility of that coming, it's a good thing). Most importantly the bigger stadium, and accompanying new tenants, and the promised upcoming ticket price increases. Those are definites, much more set in stone and permanent than the chances of sustained success and possible trophy winning on the pitch are. We've accepted a lot of bad things, will we get the good things in return?
It's been a mixed bag for sure, but overall Leiweke's time here has brought positive, if loud and obnoxious, change to TFC. Leaving so soon, with the job nowhere near done means we'll never really be able to know what his legacy was. A lot will depend on who comes in next, what changes he makes, whether the aggressive pushing of TFC continues, if that pushing is in the same or a different direction, or if they're just left to coast on the momentum provided and eventually fall back? Even before that, just how involved in team building decisions is Leiweke going to be in his 10 remaining lame duck months?
The overall verdict is unknown for now, possibly forever. One thing at least is for sure, it's been interesting.
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