By: Michael Newell
When it was announced that TFC executive vice president and chief operating officer Tom Anselmi had called a news conference for Tuesday afternoon people knew someone was out of a job. After the team’s worst performance of the season against DC United at BMO field in do or die game, Anselmi clearly had seen enough. On Tuesday director of soccer operations Mo Johnston and head coach Preki were fired and assistant coach and former Canadian international Nick Dasovic was installed at interim head coach.
At the press conference Anselmi stated that “At the end of the day, it’s a results-oriented business, and the results just weren’t there. “It hasn’t worked, it just hasn’t worked and so we’re moving on,”
For supporters of the club neither move was all that surprising specially considering the fading hopes of making the team playoffs. However what might have caught some people of guard was the timing, with 6 games left in the regular season many (including myself) thought that the club would make this move in the off season. Johnston had always stated that if the team failed to make the playoffs this year he was gone, but with the team still in the hunt for the 8th and final playoff spot some have seen it as a reactionary move. The very vocal south end supporters made it clear on Saturday that they were fed up with the mediocre play for the squad chanting “We not going to take it” a verse from the 80’s Twisted Sister song. It was first time that the discontent among the fans was so boisterous in the 4 years of the club’s existence, it seemed ownership shared their view. [picappgallerysingle id=”7543662″]
The rumours of Johnston and Preki’s demise first started up after the Chicago loss on Wednesday, after it had been leaked that Preki and assistant coach Dasovic had a verbal dust up over tactics a few week earlier. The other coaches were called into a meeting with the brass in which they questioned Preki’s knowledge around tactical game planning, and expressed that fact that Preki was difficult to work with. The rumour mill went into overdrive on Saturday when Dasovic was nowhere to be found, subsequently we learned that he had flown to his home in Vancouver.
Although Johnston had been with the club since inception in 2007, his record is one of disappointment and failure right from the beginning. Whether it be poor coaching decisions and roster selection in the first season to ill advised signings like Pablo Vitti, Laurent Blanc, Carlos Ruiz, Ronnie O’Brian, Raivis Hscanovics etc…. Johnston has failed to bring quality to the side while also over paying for players. The club is up against the salary cap and is very thin in terms of squad selection. It will be very difficult for his successor to shed the payroll of some of these contacts.
As for Preki, he becomes another TFC coaching causality as the carousel on head coaches continues. Dasovic becomes the 5th head coach of the club in 4 seasons.
I stated in my last TFC post that I thought Preki should remain head coach as he had improved the club defensively and brought about a better work rate, I also believed just for stability sake he would be retained. However work rate and defensive football does not equal goals. It has been the Achilles heel for this club since 2007 and they are currently on a 4 match goal less streak. There also comes the question of his attitude and at time bombastic nature around the players. Saturday is was made clear that Preki had lost the players. It has been long known that DP Julian De Guzman had questioned the lack of tactical knowledge and planning of Preki, and recently other members of the squad has begun to question their treatment by the head coach. When this happens then its clear that the manger has to go.
Make no mistake in most cases players get coaches fired, and TFC’s squad is not innocent of this. However it was also clear that Preki had little grasp on how to plan an offensive attack.
So as in my last post I pose the question, where does TFC go from here?
Tom Anslemi believes the season is not completely lost yet, “Short-term we’ve got six games left in the regular season of MLS. The players play up to their potential, we believe we can still make the playoffs.
“Longer term we came to the conclusion that we needed new leadership for this club on the pitch, so the search for a new manager begins today.”
At this point Toronto FC fans would just settle for stability and some winning soccer.