Reading The TFC Tea Leaves
Back during the Cold War many the political scientist in the world earned their keep and published many the scholarly article, or even entire books that were based on trying to decipher the power structure in the former Soviet Union based on nothing more than the order that these once powerful oligarchs stood next to one another atop Lenin’s Tomb during public events in Red Square.
Was the Agriculture Commissar now on the outs because he was four spots away from the Chairman this week versus only three last week? Was the head of the KGB plotting to take over the top job because he was seen chatting with the Defense Minister?
If you peruse some of the TFC fan message boards in the wake of this week’s announced coaching changes at the club which saw Bob De Klerk “promoted” to Technical Manager , Jim Brennan replacing BDK as Assistant Coach and Paul Mariner now entrusted to take on a more hands on coaching role with “occasional” work with the struggling strikers, the amount of “tea leaf reading” happening right now is astounding.
Trying to truly figure out what this “new” coaching and management structure truly means for both the future of the individuals involved and for the club is I think at best like trying to ascertain what the old Soviet Politburo was up to based on where they were standing. There’s not a lot to go on beyond what we are being told.
However there are a few things we can obviously see that I think are not really open to debate:
Bob De Klerk and Aron Winter are friends. That is a fact. Aron recruited BDK to come with him to Toronto. I know from a close friend that has broken bread with them on more than one occasion that they socialize together off the field and they spend a lot of time together off the pitch and away from the stadium. And Bob De Klerk was not “happy” to be promoted. You can see for yourself in the video below, courtesy of TFC TV, how he evades the question on if he is happy with the move and that the reports should ask Aron Winter why the move was made.
Whether this was Aron’s choice or the choice of MLSE brass to move him away from the first team, it is pretty evident that De Klerk is not pleased. And reports from journalists at the practice this week when it was announced plainly saw this for themselves and duly reported upon it. Maybe I am about to do a bit of “tea leaf reading” myself here when I state that I just can’t see Aron getting rid of his best friend and long time confidant off the bench next to him of his own volition to be replaced by the Under 17 team coach and a noted MLSE survivor.
Jim Brennan is that survivor of which I speak. He has outlasted five coaches as a player and a coach himself with Toronto FC and has jumped the queue ahead of Danny Dichio to now sit next to Aron Winter on the First Team bench. Without a doubt to survive the upheaval that has been the hallmark of TFC’s history off the field since 2006 speaks to Jimmy B’s ability at the very least to stay in the good graces of MLSE, and I believe that to be true because MLSE has been the only constant at the club since its inception. Jim is as much MLSE through and through as he claims to be TFC through and through. Yes he has been with Toronto since before Day One and yes he has MLS playing experience however I am unsure how much he can bring to the table from a coaching perspective that a Bob De Klerk cannot. Perhaps he is there to be a conduit for the players to improve the level of communication between them and the coaching staff. In any case I am willing to go out on a limb a bit here and state that Jimmy is there at the behest of Anselmi and co.
And that now brings us to Paul Mariner. His record in MLS before coming to Toronto is well known as is his friendship with Steve Nicol, who has been long rumoured in some circles to be the replacement for Winter if MLSE decides to clean house and start over yet again. Mariner actually has more coaching experience than Winter does if you factor in his year at Plymouth Argyle and his six plus seasons in Boston. And now he will officially/unofficially be helping out a man in Aron Winter with whom he has by certain accounts had a frosty relationship with.
Aron Winter is still in charge of this team.
Anything else you read or hear at this stage is nothing more than Politburo tea leaf reading.
Thankful at least that Dichio seems to have kept out of the first team circus for now, and can continue his great work with the senior academy team. When it all goes to shite, they can fire Winter in July, then Brennan in October.
Sometimes, ‘fresh’ faces are exactly what’s needed. Look at what happened after the mid season changeover last year. Rather than taking the gamble on another massive overhaul, they’ve opted for this route. Change is good, we can only hope it’s this simple.
Another thing I just noticed, is the fact that we hold a lot of games in hand on some teams. That can be a big difference maker. The playoffs are a long shot, however! Stranger things have happened.
In the nhl, the first 25 games are generally throw aways. Generally, teams come firing out of the gate or dull. Things settle down and you see the teams for what they really are. I think the same rule applies to all sports. In MLS, it seems to be the first 10 to sort it out, click and get going.
Looking at the history books in the last few years, Columbus or LA got off to horrible starts a few years ago and went on a tear those years right after.
I think the CCL and a change in personnel came along at exactly the right moment. If we can get and keep a full and healthy squad, I think they can really turn it around and turn some heads.