Mo Has Left The Building
On Twitter this afternoon former TFC player Alecko Eskandarian said the following:
“…Major moves for my former club TFC today. I guess what goes around comes back around… And that’s all I will say about that.”
You know I wanted this day to come for a long time. And last Saturday sealed the deal as to the necessity of firing Mo Johnston now rather than later. I seventy plus games at BMO Field that I have witnessed live, last Saturday was the first time I never had fun. The malaise I saw on the pitch from the players, the lethargy in the stands from those that chose to come to the game, and the seething anger of many within the supporters groups was the last straw for me.Mo had to go. And from year one Mo Johnston rubbed me personally the wrong way. I felt then that he was not the man to build this club into what we as supporters always wanted it to become, namely a good solid team on the pitch that was contending and a club with a good reputation off it.
Mo came to Toronto in 2006 with considerable baggage and with a reputation of not being the classiest individual when it came to some of his professional decisions. The Celtic/Rangers fiasco, where in one week Mo stated that “…Celtic was the only team…” he would ever want to play for, then a week later signing with their arch rivals across town without the knowledge of Celtic, certainly spoke to the character of the man early in his career. Negotiating with Toronto FC to come in as Director of Soccer/Manager while still under contract with the New York/New Jersey Metrostars (nee Red Bulls) certainly spoke to it as well.
The litany of poor decisions after he came to Toronto have been I think well documented in this space and elsewhere. And through many of them Toronto FC I feel earned a reputation amongst many MLS players as a club that would not be a good one to play for. And that was one of the hardest pills for me as an ardent supporter to swallow. That is not the type of club I wanted TFC to be! With a few exceptions, I will grant MLSE as owners good marks in building this organization off the pitch. Of course without them there would be no team in the first place, a fact many of us forget a little too often for my taste, but I digress. Mo never found a way in four years to do on the pitch what people like Tom Anselmi and Paul Bierne were able to do off it. And players speaking to the flaws in the character of the man in charge only made it worse in my mind.
I have also heard from many reputable sources some very serious allegations against Mo and how he conducted his business affairs with TFC in his time here that again spoke to some potential serious lapses in his judgment, integrity and honesty. And never ever being able to get enough of those sources to go on the record to corroborate them I probably never will at this stage. The apparently chummy relationship with Mo’s very own agent Barry MacLean and the team was certainly in my eyes at the top of that list. I for one was quite uncomfortable having the majority of the players and coaching staffs on the roster at many times in these past four years being represented by the very same individual that was representing Mo himself. Even putting that rumour and conjecture stuff aside, Mo obviously did not do enough for the on the pitch product to justify keeping his job past the end of season three at the latest. Tom Ansemli in the press conference today was asked if in hindsight it would have been a better idea to have cut Mo loose after the club crashed out of the MLS playoff hunt last season in New York. He sidestepped the question. And perhaps he needs to come back to it at some point soon because it speaks to perhaps something structural about MLSE as owners (a topic for another blog) that may be a stumbling block down the road.
Mo never laid in any significant fashion a foundation for success in his time here. And the results to date speak to that. With him now gone whoever takes over next season is essentially building a new expansion team.Yes that is a sorry state of affairs, but it is what it is. With him in charge a significant proportion of Toronto FC fans, including a majority of the most ardent, were saying that change had to happen and it had to happen now. And it has happened. The past four years are what they are and the club must now try and find some sort of direction ahead while trying to leverage at least some of the parts that Mo has brought into the team to build upon.
Ben Knight on It’s Called Football last night asked Bob Lenarduzzi of the Vancouver Whitecaps if he takes anything as a lesson from TFC’s not being in the MLS Playoffs for what may now be four seasons when it comes to preparing for their entry into the league in 2011. And I think indirectly Lenarduzzi’s answer sums up most of all what the scale of Mo’s failures here were.
“…Obviously MLS is the kind of league that restricts the how and the when you can sign players. There is a salary cap. You have to get it right at the outset to give yourself a chance to have a good squad… Well Seattle are about to make the playoffs as an expansion franchise for the second year in a row. Hopefully we can emulate that model…” Bob Lenarduzzi
For the sake of Whitecaps fans I hope they do not end up emulating the Mo Johnston model.
So the Mo Johnston era is over at Toronto FC. It is time for all of us as fans to move on, and support our club. Most of us were asking for this to take place and now it has. Now let us get back to supporting the boys on the field, which is the fun part of what being a supporter is supposed to be in the first place.
I will have a video blog up later tonight with more commentary about the news of today including coach Preki also being fired by Toronto FC and where I think this leaves the club between now and the end of the season.