Winter – Dutch Coach to Toronto FC
Get used to hearing that name.
By all reports out of Toronto and Amsterdam this gentleman, currently an Assistant Coach with famous Dutch side Ajax Amsterdam, is about to be appointed Technical Director of Toronto FC. There will be a presser later this week sources tell me when he, along with Paul Mariner and Ajax youth academy coach Bob de Klerk, will be announces as the new Triumvirate in charge.
Here is how it apparently is going to be structured if sources here and in Holland are to be believed. Winter will be given two titles, Technical Director and Head Coach. He will be in charge of the on field product that is going to be TFC 2011 and the word out of Holland is that this former Dutch International will be the person that more than anyone else will be responsible for how the 2011 season and beyond will turn out.
The Arena/Nicol/Schmidt model is therefore going to be the model TFC goes with, but with one major caveat. Winter has no MLS experience. Total Football under the salary cap is going to be a significant challenge for a man not accustomed to building a team with a salary cap of $2.6 milion. There are going to be guys on the end of his bench this summer that are simply not going to be up to playing the way he probably wants them to.
That is where Paul Mariner apparently come in. With a wealth of MLS experience working on an even tighter budget than what TFC works under (with a notoriously cheap owner in New England’s Bob Kraft) Mariner knows what the lay of the land is in the North American professional game and will be hired to provide a yang to Winter’s ying, giving him a reality check letting him know what is realistic to expect from the North American game and maybe more importantly what is not.
De Klerk is going to be the person to try and take the infant TFC Academy, which has positively produced to date a couple of solid prospects that have signed with the senior team (Henry & Lindsay). I would not be surprised that the plans for a home for the Academy, unveiled last fall, are now moved ahead with some vigour and pace. I am sure that to attract a youth coach from arguably one of the best three footy academies on the planet to take over a four year old academy without a training facility in place, there must have been some assurances provided on this front.
My sources are also telling me that Earl Cochrane will be the GM (in title) and will be responsible for the administrative end of running a MLS team on the field. The minutiae of the the paperwork, allocation, contracts, salary cap and the like that Cochrane has extensive knowledge of in his time in Toronto and DC United, are going to his primary purview. There are also reports out there that current Assistant GM Jim Brennan and Interim Head Coach Nick Dasovic are going to be retained. Dasovic in particular will likely be in charge of the reserve team, which is returning in 2011. I have not found out anything about the future of Danny Dichio with TFC.
There will be a presser later this week announcing all of this and the specifics will be fleshed out. in detail. What I think this all means more than anything else is that the soccer IQ of this club is finally heading towards the direction in which it needs to be. The more people around the club I talk to the one thing I hear more than anything about how Mo Johnston did things when he was in charge was the fact that he did not delegate. Every decision, large or small, required his input and ended up more often than not being his call and his call alone. The man made mistakes and there were not enough people around him with the requisite knowledge and power base within the club to call him upon them as often as he should have been to prevent mistakes turning into blunders and blunders turning into disasters.
I must confess that I have watched from afar with some admiration how our new Canadian cousins in MLS, the Vancouver Whitecaps, have gone about hiring smart soccer minds to flesh out their front office. Soehn, Barber, Lenarduzzi and company have provided them with a group of people that not only have complimentary skill sets, but also have extensive knowledge that can go a long way to prevent some of the major blunders the autocratic Mo Johnston unfortunately made in Toronto.
This is a salary cap league. But there is no salary cap on the front office. In many ways Toronto FC has been a first class operation from day one with one glaring exception. The game day experience, the stadium, the media relations efforts, their presence in social media and their charity efforts in the community have been in many ways first class. The owners have, when asked, stepped up and spent money. At last they appear to understand the necessity of spending money in the right place, in a place where it needs to be spent to give the club the soccer intellect it has never had in its short history.
When he was announced in October as a consultant with TFC, Jürgen Klinsmann spoke about finding a culture before finding a head coach and a new front office. With an influx of Dutchmen well versed in the art of Total Football and with a focus on youth development I think it is clear what Klinsmann had in mind. it is also becoming clear what style of soccer he thinks TFC should be playing going forward.
Now it will be up to Winter, Mariner, De Klerk, Dasovic, Brennan and Cochrane to see if they can implement it in a league as uniqie as MLS apparently is.
Much more to follow I am sure.
What do you think? Your comment are always welcome and of course always appreciated.