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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

We need to talk about Seven

Mariner (left) and Cochrane address the media

Today marked the annual day where the majority of MLS clubs prepare for the post-season while Toronto FC talks about the off-season. In front of the gathered local press, some TFC players (but not the team captain) and staff faced the media’s "sort-of-firing-line" to provide any insight possible into the failings of 2012 and the preparation for Season Seven in 2013.
Very little aside from the usual platitudes are expected from these events. The usual "works starts yesterdays"; "gotta be betters next years" and "I believes in this teams" are practically on a loop so it's the between-the-lines stuff that is usually more interesting. You can watch the highlights of the two-and-a-half hour extravaganzo on Toronto FC TV later if you like but if deciphering body language textually is your bag, here goes nearly literally nothing...
The only thing missing from this band of sad-eyed orphaned puppies was a Sarah McLachlan soundtrack. It was interesting to watch the split in support for the manager between those who got playing time and those that didn't but that's hardly shocking. Here's a little bit of what we saw...
WHAT HE SAID: "Overall it's been a disappointing season"; "Aron Winter's brand wasn't working"; "100% belief in Mariner"
BODY LANGUAGE: "Pleeeeease stop asking me about fan protests"
WHAT HE SAID: "It's been a complicated year"
BODY LANGUAGE: "Where is the fine line between diplomacy and unemployment?"
WHAT HE SAID: "(Management) has their jobs cut out for them"; "I'm not sure..." (On whether Mariner is right for the job)
BODY LANGUAGE: "My body is here - my head is in Jamaica. Smell ya' later T.O."
WHAT HE SAID: "We have to be smarter in attacking and defence"; "I don't care who my coach is..."; "Believe in yourself or don't play football"
BODY LANGUAGE: "I want to punch Paul Mariner in the shorts"
WHAT HE SAID: "We panic in the last ten minutes... it's mind boggling"
BODY LANGUAGE: "That's right Milos - talk your way out of town."
WHAT HE SAID: "To answer your question, I don't know how to answer your question"
BODY LANGUAGE: "Where's the line to punch Mariner's shorts?"
WHAT HE SAID: "I'm sorry..." (On not being able to play more)
BODY LANGUAGE: I may look like a murderer but I am simply a misunderstood Frenchman who loves his family, the art of Monet, a fresh pain au chocolat in the morning light and Paul Mariner"
WHAT HE SAID: "Next year is very, very vital for this franchise"; "... fitness is an issue..."
BODY LANGUAGE: "Seriously guys, I used to be on loan at Bury. Even with 5 wins this place is heavenly"
WHAT HE SAID: "TFC is kind of Bermuda's outlet"
BODY LANGUAGE: "I sound nothing like my Twitter account"
WHAT THEY SAID: Random mumblings about being a rookie.
BODY LANGUAGE: "I just want to go home to my mom."
WHAT HE SAID: "We're only a few pieces away from being competitive"
BODY LANGUAGE: "Check out my hip toque Brostein"
WHAT HE SAID: "... getting close to 100% (health)"; "Every year or half year it's a new start"
BODY LANGUAGE: "I'm kind of a big deal here"
WHAT HE SAID: " time line" (On his recovery); "You can't complain when you play for Toronto"; "I will train every day - except on weekends"
BODY LANGUAGE: "Football. Pancakes. Settlers of Cataaaaaaaaan. (Drool)"

After the players were finished looking like they survived root canals it was time for GM (we guess) Earl Cochrane and Manager Paul Mariner to hold court. A few truths and surprises were sprinkled among the expected blatherings and your opinion going forward probably depends whether you believe Mariner & Co. really haven't had time to shape this club after Aron Winter's departure – or - if you believe their fingers are equally deep in this mess pie.
To set the scene:
EARL’S BODY LANGUAGE: The good cop in this "Good Cop/Crazy Cop" scene
PAUL’S BODY LANGUAGE: Something akin to "Begbie" in Trainspotting (see pic above)
"... (we need) three or four pieces to step in (to the starting line-up) and depth guys"
"... (there is) a lot of flexibility in the salary cap"
"... (Overall # 1 Draft Pick) is a great asset..."
"Don't expect pre-season to get you fit..."
"... (we) hope Frings will be 100% fit for pre-season"
"... (2013 will be) a lot different pre-season from last"
"I expect to be in charge of the team (in 2013)."
"I'm very good at what I do."
"Frings absolutely wants to be back next year."
"...don't have an answer to that yet." (On whether 3 DP's return)
"Seven." (On how many bona fide MLS starters currently on team)
"We've known for a while what we need... and where we're going to get them."
"Everything is on the table."

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