Defoe Goes – So Does Nelsen
The first rule of successful corporate damage control is generally to get all of the bad news out into the public domain all at once. If in crisis professionals in the field almost all always say the best thing to do is usually to pull the band aid off quickly. Better to be the lead item in one news cycle than in many cycles if the bad news comes out in dribs and drabs. I think this corporate tactic is at the heart of all that has happened at Toronto FC this weekend.
You do not at the press conference announcing that TFC will now have its ninth head coach in less than eight full seasons throw in at the end word about the Bloody Big Deal himself, Jermaine Defoe, possibly heading back to London to reunite with Harry Redknapp and play at QPR if there was not a very high likelihood that this was going to take place.
Defoe if all reports out there are true wants out of Toronto. I can’t think that Toronto FC would seriously entertain any approach for Defoe if the player himself did not sanction an approach in the first place. Whether its the League, the TFC setup, the city, homesickness, take your pick… if he wants to go then it just comes down to the details (the fee, the timing of him leaving, etc.). MLSE, say what you will of them, can’t be that incompetent to see the horrible optics of selling on the single player that the team has most wrapped its Leiweke era ‘resurgence’ around unless it was absolutely necessary to do so.
Many will blame MLSE for all of this and if they did not fully make sure that they were hitching their double decker bus to a player in Defoe who was not in for long haul then blame is rightly assigned. I blame Defoe if he wants to go at this critical stage in TFC’s season and with arguably the most important two months in the history of this young club still to be played. If he leaves now its nothing short of a PR disaster. On the field the forward position is arguably the deepest part of the roster. There are five players on the senior team who can play striker (Moore, Oduro, Weideman, Gilberto & Dike in no particular order). If Defoe leaves after the season ends and not now (with a playoff game or two under his belt) then the sting will be somewhat assuaged. But after personally being in the room the day Defoe was announced and seeing that damned bus parked outside I just can’t buy into MLSE even considering this if there was not some sort of inevitability to it all mostly out of their control.
Now onto Nelsen. Bezbatchenko says Nelsen’s ouster was all about the results. And I can’t say Saturday’s result helped him any. I also get that Bezbatchenko inherited Nelsen. And I also get that the results, particularly of late have been poor. And I undoubtedly agree that the match on Saturday past was about as bad an effort I have ever seen TFC have at home. That observation is coming from a guy who has missed three competitive home games in almost eight full seasons.
Whether Nelsen was ever the coach for us long term is indeed a worthy question. My concern about Nelsen was not him leaving per se but the how and the when of his departure.
Ten games remain in what I consider to be the most important upcoming two month stretch in the history of this organization. The Leiweke ‘re-boot’ is all on the line here if the Reds do not make the playoffs and get at least one home playoff game this fall. Getting rid of Nelsen (and essentially all of his coaching staff) at this late date and replacing him with Academy Director Greg Vanney is a massive gamble with not just the short term but long term future of this club.
More on Vanney over the coming days but to me all of this activity today smacks of desperation. If Defoe was not leaving, Saturday shocker of a result notwithstanding, does Nelsen still have a job today? If this was not all knee jerk would there perhaps be a more experienced MLS coach signing on? Would not Greg Vanney have a group of assistants ready to go? Bob Bradley still needs a job right???
Bezbatchenko to me wanted ALL of the bad news out there now. Sunday saw him pull off the proverbial band aid with one sharp tug. Now we wait for the window to slam shut and see if our fingers are not collectively caught in the window jamb.
No pressure TFC. Only the future of your entire club at stake.