Dickov Is Not Coming to Toronto FC – & Thoughts On The Kids
Dickov Not Coming to Toronto FC
Well, for me at least, it was fun while it lasted. However if TFC fans were thinking that Paul Dickov was coming to Toronto they can now forget about it. English paper The Daily Mail is reporting today that the 37 year old former Leeds man will be the new manager at League 1 outfit Oldham Athletic.
After leaving Leeds United at the end of the English season Dickov stated that he was going to mull over options to either continue playing or to take on a coaching position. Obviously the opportunity to get immediately into a managerial position with a relatively large club so soon after leaving Leeds trumped any short term opportunity (which realistically is all it would have ever been at Toronto FC) to continue playing. Interestingly, some reports are stating that Dickov will assume a player/manager role with the Latics, which would of course make the transition from player to manager that much more palatable for a man that probably feels that he could still contribute at some level as a player.
I wish him well.
Now that Dickov is off the radar the speculation begins anew about what Toronto FC may or may not do when it comes to bringing in new players for the rest of this season. Cap/allocation dollars are undoubtedly tight and Mo may not have much wiggle room in order to improve the squad to any significant degree. However there are a few things possible.
- DeRo could be offered a DP Contract – The new Designated Player rules introduced by MLS earlier this season would allow TFC to both reward its Captain and top scorer with a salary increase and also free up some cap space. The oddity that is the MLS collective bargaining agreement would allow DeRo get get a salary increase that would see less of his salary count against the salary cap. This cap space could be used to bring in additional cover.
- TFC could shell out for a DP other than DeRo for the second half of the season. Let the speculation begin on that one. The TFC fan message boards are always worth a chuckle when it comes to these types of rumours. I will wait until I see the player holding up the TFC jersey on the website before I believe any of it. I don’t much care for the silly “Luis Figo was eating dinner in Yorkville last night” kind of stuff.
- Some non DP players could be signed. My preference would be for a winger and a fullback . Whether TFC can find quality bargains like an Adrian Cann or a Dan Gargan for example remains to be seen.
Thoughts On The Kids & On The Academy Model
Tonight at BMO Field there will be as many as seven teenagers from the TFC Academy playing in the final game of the Canadian Championship. No matter the outcome at the end of the game TFC will be lifting for the second straight year the Voyageurs Cup. And as the game has no meaning for either club and as there is no impact upon the outcome of the tournament then this playing of the kids is to me nothing but a good thing. Here is a link from TFC that provides some bio information on the youngsters suiting up tonight for their biggest games as of yet in their young careers.
Some may not think that this is going to be much of a game this evening to watch. If Preki does field these kids I think that this will actually improve the spectacle on offer. A bunch of hungry youngsters looking to make a name for themselves in what will undoubtedly be an early highlight of their young careers will certainly be playing harder than professionals who have nothing to gain and a lot to lose by playing hard in a meaningless game.
And the possibility of seeing so many young players this evening also got me thinking about one of the major problems MLS as a league is going to have to address over the next few years.
MLS to date, unlike most professional leagues around the world, has not spent funds on player development to any significant degree. MLS has relied primarily on the NCAA system in the USA for talent to stock its rosters. These players are on scholarships and are not compensated by the clubs until they are drafted. Club Academies have been severely restricted in how they can add prospects to the senior clubs. Some MLS sides have no academy structure at all. This has been okay up to now for MLS, but with three Canadian clubs soon to be in the mix and with the talent pool of players being steadily diluted, there simply has to be more room for clubs willing to spend the money to develop their own players. And worldwide this is done through the academy model. The current model is player development on the cheap, and it is about to start breaking down, to the detriment of the league and its fans.
Yet MLS seems to be resisting this system and to me this may very well be the issue most of all that may become the decisive point of conflict between the newer clubs and the original clubs within MLS. Garber has shown that almost above everything else he is interested in keeping the level playing field in MLS from ever changing. What he does not apparently want to consider is that the academy model can be both a profit centre for the league and of course improve the quality of the MLS product on the pitch.
The Vancouver Whitecaps have proven that a well run academy can produce talent and create a profit if players are sold overseas. As a TFC fan I hope that the TFC Academy can be as successful. I for one strongly believe that Canadian MLS clubs, as they have Canadian content restrictions on their rosters, should be allowed to sign more players to the senior rosters than American clubs can. Forcing Canadian clubs to rely upon primarily American kids coming out of US colleges to stock the ranks is not a sustainable strategy. There are not many players like Teal Bunbury out there.
MLS was created to grow the sport in the USA. It has a ways to go, but the fact that the USA is now perennially qualifying for World Cups is largely a result of the success MLS has had in developing talent. Most of the Americans in South Africa today with the national team have played or are playing in MLS at some point in their careers. Now MLS is a “North American League”. The health and development of the Canadian game needs to be an additional focus for the league as with the expansion north comes a change in mandate.
Professional academies attached to the professional clubs in Canada, which can be used to generate prospects for the senior club, or to generate revenue for the league by selling prospects abroad is definitely the way forward.
Whether MLS agrees is certainly another matter.