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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Toronto FC "philosophy" needs results before romance

WANTED: a footy philosophy. Or wins. You know... whatever.

Leading up to Jürgen Klinsmann's appointment as Toronto FC's consultant, and indeed throughout his first press conference, the importance of finding a Toronto-specific football philosophy has been trumpeted. In fact, that very conference and Klinsmann's job so far has featured very little in the way of facts and has relied heavily on this romanticised view of team-building. While the idea in theory would be a wonderful luxury to have, is it really what TFC needs immediately? Or, is it a wordy way of fiddling while Rome continues to burn?
Klinsmann and (apparently) ML$E love the idea of finding a club philosophy which reflects local supporters and their footy culture. The finest clubs in the world are known for their individual styles but creating one isn’t an off-season project akin to stadium expansion or new kits. These kinds of legends usually grow organically in a club over decades, not stamped on a club with a "philosophy template". While you can push the club's play in a certain direction, long-term club personality must mature naturally. There are other obstacles to TFC's new found philosophical debate also.
Firstly, why would Jürgen Klinsmann, a man with no knowledge of Toronto and one with a very limited tenure at TFC be responsible for forging it? As admirable as his football mind is, he has no long-term vested interest in seeing through this new “local style” which would take years to mature. The sad fact is that ML$E is so barren of football knowledge in its front office, that it had to look outside its walls to find anyone with that capability. I congratulate them for not allowing Jim Brennan to handle that task but question their use of assets in Klinsmann while issues like a new GM are paramount.

If in fact this new philosophy is to be implemented, what version of Toronto is it supposed to represent? Is it the fast-paced, energetic, bombing style loved by English fans; the cultured possession and defensive soundness that Continental European fans enjoy; the flair and technical prowess known to South American fans; or even a physical and practical North American style? In this most multicultural of cities, you will never “create” a philosophy which represents all, it just has to happen.
Sadly, ML$E VP Tom Anselmi thinks he knows the style you want. In interviews leading up to Klinsmann’s arrival, Anselmi was very clear about the “Toronto philosophy” stating “What type of player and style of play is appreciated by the Canadian soccer fan and, specifically, the Toronto soccer fan? If you look at hockey, people in Canada love the overachiever, not so skilled, but hard-working, tough, edgy kind of hockey player, and I suspect there’s something similar to the type of football player they like.” If this is what Anselmi sees, then you can be sure that it’s what you will be seeing at BMO. This “hockey-style” plays right into ML$E’s hands as they can fill the roster with cheap “lunchbox” players like Dan Gargan and Martin Saric while promoting them as footy’s Wendel Clark. And ominously - who better to implement this “Torontonaccio” than the home-grown Earl Cochrane & Jim Brennan combo as GM and associate?
Only the years ahead will tell what kind of identity Toronto FC will forge but is this the best use of our high-priced consultant’s time? While Klinsmann and Co. wax poetically about the evolution of The Reds’ spirit, other MLS teams (especially Vancouver) are putting the right staff in place in front offices and on the pitch as they prepare for 2011. As much as we’d all love a club that means something on a higher plane, most TFC fans would first settle for a good GM/coach followed by some wins.


  1. it's just so depressing whenever anselmi talks about that sort of thing. one, that our top guy is still very clearly a hockey guy is terrible, and two, that he is clearly pushing the hard working guy angle also worries me.

    Queston we all have to ask though is, is he right? does he actually understand toronto sports fans more than we'd like to admit, including tfc? De Ro's by far out highest scorer, and definitely up there in the conversation of our most talented player ever, but who's the most loved, him or dichio? I'd argue gargan is more popular than guevara ever was as another example.

    anyway, i look forward to reading Jurgen's diary after he talks about this with tom.

  2. Read today that Donadoni is going to Cagliari so I guess there's another coach gone. I hate to believe this but I think you may be right. I can see Anselmi saying that Cocrane and Jimmy B will run the show and Dasovic will stay on as coach to help the new Toronto style. And after spending 3 months deciding this we will be in training camp with nothing new but draftpicks and guys on trial. Wake me up in April.

    - Frank

  3. I also believe, that as time marches on, we will see Cochrane as the GM, Jim B as Asst. GM and Dasovic as Coach. The writing on the wall appeared to me when Garber announced the youth/academy inception into team structure in MLS. Cochrane was instrumental in promoting Henry, Lindsay and will next procure Morgone. That solidifies him in Ansemi's eyes.

    Das Consultant will have to show personages of higher calibre than what we have presently. Football savvy pundits are awash with their "euro" recommendations on supporters boards but really fail to grasp the epistemology of MLSE thought.

    We are not doomed, but man, will a lot of people be disappointed.

  4. You guys are crazy - there's no way MLSE would have hired Klinsman then go and just make Brennan the GM. Trust me, before training camp we will have a first class gm and coach. MLSE got scared my the fans this year - they won't make the same mistake again.

  5. Re-entry draft is November 24. Who do you think is structuring the de-selection of players as we speak?

  6. ^ For sure Cochrane and Brennan.

    @ Anon 2:50... we will see who's crazy on opening day when this new set of management clowns doesn't have a full squad. For the 5th year in a row.

    - Stig