As Toronto FC transition into August, the whispers surrounding the club are all too familiar. For the second time this year rumours suggest that Greg Vanney's head is on the chopping block. While his team contrasts magic and disaster, many question whether another could achieve more of the former.
It was probably a mistake for Toronto FC to keep an inexperienced Vanney on as coach as they started this season. It would be an even bigger mistake to let him go just as Toronto reach the most crucial stage of the 2015 season.
Toronto gave themselves this exact same catch-22 last season, mismanaging a situation that saw Ryan Nelsen canned and their season follow suit. Toronto were still in a playoff position when Nelsen was fired, they are right now as the fourth place team in the Eastern Conference.
While their games in hand are rapidly running out, and they are only three points into the playoff at this time, they still have the third best points per game in the Eastern Conference. They also have 8 of their last 12 games at BMO Field, which means less travel and a home crowd.
They may be in the best shape they have ever been in at this stage in a season. On the road, where they have been historically dismal, they already have five victories, which is a club record, as well as three draws.
If this club wasn't named Toronto FC some would even suggest it is a good position to be in at this stage in the year. Unfortunately this club is still burdened by their past, and will be until a playoff spot is officially clinched.
It's a past that Greg Vanney doesn't deserve to be judged by, however, not even the end of last season where he took over a majorly down-trending side and unsurprisingly didn't have the answers to fix a broken team.
This year's team is hardly perfect, but it would take a heck of a lot to go wrong in the next month for the team to be anywhere near as shattered as they were at that time last year, when Nelsen lost his job and Vanney took over.
For one all of designated players seem to be on board, and at the very least they are all in the country.
Vanney's DPs have become part of his problem, as many look at Toronto's roster on paper and wonder aloud why the team hasn't done better. In truth that paper has very rarely reflected who is truly available for Toronto.
Captain Michael Bradley has been a great servant to his country, meaning he hasn't always been present for his club. Toronto have been without their midfield general for extended stretches this year.
The United States have also come calling for striker Jozy Altidore, who has dealt with injuries all year. For a player in a position in which repetition and consistency are important, it is unsurprising Altidore has had stretches of ineffectiveness.
The only designated player that has kept healthy and available all season is Sebastian Giovinco, the best player in the league so far this season.
Giovinco is both the best and worst thing that could happen to Vanney. For one he has almost single-handedly rescued Vanney's team on several occasions. He also single handedly makes people question why the team doesn't win more.
In truth Vanney deserves a small portion of the praise for how well Giovinco has done so far this season. The Toronto coach has done a great job of putting the Italian in a position to succeed in most matches, the same he has done with Bradley and at times Altidore.
Designated players aside, Toronto have been hit with a substantial amount of injuries and suspensions that has meant the club's roster has substantial changeover almost every week.
Toronto never was a perfect team on paper either. Its attacking lineup may one of best in the league but defensively the team was always in a difficult spot. If Ashtone Morgan wasn't as good as he has been this year Toronto would be nowhere near their current position.
Vanney can only do so much with a flawed, injured, suspended and inexperienced defensive core, and what he has been able to accomplish is probably the biggest indicator of his coaching abilities.
Tactically he has often been naïve, as many will be quick to point out. He is also, unlike many of his Toronto predecessors, not too proud to change up his system. When he gets it right, as he does just as often as he gets it wrong, he is deemed "lucky".
He may not be the best man for the Toronto job in the grand scheme of things, but at the moment he has this team well on the way to a playoff position.
The system he plays has several flaws, but is good enough to win in a still flawed league. Firing him now would mean a new system, potentially new roles and unnecessary risk for a promising season.
It would be a shocking statement of how little this club has learned since its inception should they fire Greg Vanney, and make a change when all Toronto really needs at this point is consistency.
Vanney should be judged in the offseason, just like Nelsen should have been last year. Until then, the ship is still afloat and there is no reason to change direction.