First off a lot of TFC fans who know me know that I would like nothing more than to see the ass end of Mo Johnston as he heads to Pearson Airport and out of  Toronto. Some agree and some disagree, As a way to kick off this blog I thought I would try and place my concerns into some sort of context.

Mo does get a lot of stick, from me and others, about many things. And in fairness he probably gets more stick than he deserves for a lot of them.

Mo did not create the apparently small talent pool of Canadians out there willing to play for TFC or in MLS for that matter.

Mo did not create the arcane allocation rules in MLS.

Mo did choose to manage a club in Canada, that has different visa and tax rules than the USA does, but in fairness he can’t be blamed for that.

He has drafted well. Mo Edu for grass was a great play. Stefan Frei overseas will be a nice piece of business someday as well.

The indictments are well known:

– Apparent reliance to a great degree on Barry MacLean (debatable) for scouting and talent, who happens to be Mo’s agent (opening up potential conflict of interest issues).

– The tendency to overpay players (again somewhat debatable if you buy into the “playing in Canada premium” argument).

– “Trader Mo” wheels and deals to the point where the club has never truly been settled in four years. More player turnover than any club in the league during this time.

– Running one of, if the the thinnest roster in the league for four years.

– A reputation for doublespeak and lying (again debatable when it is one person’s word against another’s) about player moves and the like.

– Doing a piss poor job of communication to the fan base of the club what the long term plans are for the club in the way that Fellow MLSE employees Burke and Colangelo have done.

– An apparent focus on Europe for scouting overpriced triallists and new talent when a much more cost effective marketplace for players exists in Central/South America and Africa. (starting to change perhaps??)

– An unwillingness/inability (at least he has fixed this now) in the first three seasons to hire an experienced MLS coaching staff.

– Again, if you believe the rumours, having a bad reputation with some of the MLS players based on handling of player personnel moves like Serioux and Robinson, potentially making Toronto an unpopular franchise to play for with MLS players.

-There is no salary cap for the scouting department. Don Garber in his own words on Saturday said this club is profitable when he announced the new deal between MLS and its players. There is frankly no excuse for us not having the largest and best scouting staff in this league. In a cap league it is one of the few ways (along with amenities like training facilities and staff support) that you can use to get a competitive edge over the rest of your competitors.

If we had better scouting we could find players from the Americas or Africa willing to play for league minimums that would allow Mo to fill out our roster more completely and save precious cap space. Sainey Nyassi and Kenny Mansally in New England are examples of what I mean. Drafted out of Gambia by Steve Nichol, they have been starting XI players for the Revs for two years now and essentially make the league minimum. Good scouting led to a good bargain on two players that play and contribute.

Our scouting has been relatively poor in comparison to the rest of MLS and there is no excuse for it.

Pro and con all of these points can potentially be agreed with, debunked or debated. Most likely the truth is somewhere in between with some good and some bad taking place…Most of the time the real truth is somewhere in the middle I believe.

I personally think that the style of management he follows and his apparent philosophy of building a contending team for the future is deeply flawed. The most definitive criticism I would have for him is in his handling of the cap. In a league with player cash in relatively short supply there is no more important skill for a GM to have than in finding the “balance” in the cap. You need to balance the competing objectives of satisfying players with their individual pay packets with not overpaying for talent, signing smart contracts that don’t mortgage the club’s future and finding bargains at the bottom of the salary scale that can contribute on the pitch. I feel strongly that this is the “Epic Fail” for Mo Johnston and the primary reason why I would like him to leave.

A lot of Mo supporters need to remember that those of us who disagree with you often do so with reasoned arguments and do not rely on just innuendo and speculation to make them. Agree or disagree if you will but at least give some credit to the position.

For those of you who hate the guy I would say that respectfully that is not enough in of itself to call for his ouster. Much of the stick he takes is based on rumour and innuendo. If you are going to hate, hate with the facts.

I for one will stick with the quote at the bottom of my handle over on the U Sector boards:

And I quote: – “I guess if it (not making the playoffs) happens in the fourth year, yes of course I won’t be here. It’s as simple as that.” Mo Johnston – October 27th, 2009

Tim Drodge

Comments welcome


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