• Take this under advisement, Tom

      If you haven’t yet read John Molinaro’s excellent critique of the current state of Toronto pro soccer under the bland and heavy thumb of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, please take a moment to do so. Then come right back. We have some matters to discuss.


      The bit I want to zoom in on is Sportsnet analyst and former Canadian national team goaltender Craig Forrest bluntly telling MLSE castle king Tom Anselmi that TFC’s management structure needs to be fixed, and Anselmi responding “We’ll take that under advisement.”

      Please allow me to amplify, just in case anyone in the MLSE candy shoppe is nibbling a tasty bit of Canadian Soccer News along with their morning fudge.

      Tom Anselmi and MLSE are at their most dangerous when they are deciding who should be in charge of TFC’s football operations.

      The three most shattering blows ever struck against this fragile franchise were Mo Johnston 2006, Mo Johnson 2009 and Aron Winter/Paul Mariner 2011. It is this blog’s belief that the apparently imminent default decision of Paul Mariner 2013 will prove to be hammer blow number four.

      Folks, there’s a very limited number of times anybody can hit anything that hard, and expect there to be anything useful left standing.

      Not everyone agrees with me about Mariner. My friend and CSN colleague Duane Rollins did his best to take me to Mariner school on a westbound King 504 streetcar on the bright, chilly morning of the D.C. United game.

      Duane’s contacts are screaming at him that, should TFC fire yet one more head coach, no self-respecting pro within hailing distance of sanity and self-respect would ever want to come and take this job.

      Of course, I’d have felt better if Duane hadn’t started quoting the Big Soccer message boards. I haven’t given a sideways damn what that poison-dripping bog swamp thinks about anything since the infected aftermath of the Columbus road trip disaster of 2009.

      When any collection of characters is that wrong about something I know back to front to sideways, I’m not about to take their word for anything else.

      Plus, there is a simple, one-word answer as to why, in fact, there will always be interest in the TFC management job:


      And Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has lots and lots of money.

      The issue right now would be: Tom Anselmi himself.

      Right now, after all we’ve seen and endured and been through and are dreading having to go through again, there isn’t any sane reason left why anyone – except maybe Mo Johnston? – should ever consent to take soccer direction – in any way at all – from Tom Anselmi.

      MLSE needs to hire a real president for this club – a savvy soccer guy who takes zip-zero crap from the suits – and hermetically seal him off every other aspect of their operation (except for their buoyant, chubby bank accounts).

      That manager must then hire an inspired coach. And that coach must not be Paul Mariner.

      Duane says – and blessings upon him for the undying passion with which he believes this – that Toronto FC needs to settle for Mariner, because yet another total overhaul would again be far too disruptive.

      But Mariner is a product of the same blind, chronic incompetence that produced Johnston, Johnston again, and Winter. Oh, and Mariner. Keeping Mariner now would not stabilize anything that’s actually worth saving.

      It would be more like another tragic case of the abused returning to the abuser.

      Near as I can tell, it took Paul Mariner fewer than ten games to lose the room. Even in TFC hell-land, that’s some kind of a record.

      No one with professional pride in their work wants to be yelled at – constantly – on every little detail of their job. If CSN founder and scribe boss Ben Rycroft badgered me the way Mariner bully-rags Our Reds, I would silently slip out the back door, and he would never see or hear from me again. And Rycroft is a real talent.

      Mariner – like four of the six TFC bench bosses before him – came to the job with exactly zero previous games of division-one coaching experience. The only two who had any were Johnston and Preki, and neither has been hired by anyone to do the same job since.

      Scorched earth, people. And I don’t want Paul Mariner scattering any more ashes on it.

      I have no doubt at all that Tom Anselmi himself feels awful about all this. You can see a pinched kind of silent agony in his face. He doesn’t announce his post-game presence, and disappears silently out a lot of side doors.

      Nor do I seriously doubt the man’s good intentions. Make no mistake, folks: without MLSE, TFC would never have come here in the first place.

      But the businessman within the man needs to understand that the man is bad for business.

      Not money business. Soccer business.

      MLSE seems a happy enough place. All the execs have dream jobs in the candy shoppe, where they get to do admirable and profitable work. But they have no idea how to win at sports, and soccer baffles them far more than their other athletic endeavours.

      Sure, there’s a place in the world for guys who can run TV empires, build condos towers on rail yards, and get minor-league hockey teams into the Calder Cup final. But there’s no longer any place for any of those guys to have anything to say about the operations of Toronto FC.

      Paul Mariner 2012 is a naďve, over-matched blowhard. Yes, his work in New England earned him a shot, but so far he’s only managed to shoot his team, and himself.

      The abuse can’t continue. The old decision makers cannot continue to call the shots. Within the MLSE operation, I very much like both Earl Cochrane and Paul Beirne personally. But it’s six years down a disastrous road, and no one who’s ever had a hand on the TFC steering wheel should ever be allowed to drive or navigate this bus again.

      Put another way, under no circumstances would I ever allow a doctor who amputated my left leg to have a go at my right.

      Away with abuse! Away with Big Soccer! Away with Tom Anselmi as president of TFC!

      Let Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment continue to do what it does magnificently, and leave all future Toronto FC soccer decisions to trained, inspired, motivated, reliable, proven, accountable soccer professionals.

      Let us all take that under advisement, eh?


      (Oh, and my Canada-Honduras aftermath story is still coming – likely Tuesday.)
      Comments 36 Comments
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Well said! I totally agree with it all. Lets hope Tom Anselmi takes it all under advisement and puts it into action immediately. Or this club is doomed.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Great for Jason De Vos and Craig Forrest to ask good, direct, necessary questions. Also liked John Molinaro's article, thanks to him we know that these questions were asked. Keep up your great work Ben.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -

        Not news. No news here, just opinions.
      1. Ben Knight's Avatar
        Ben Knight -
        Well, as long as I'm throwing bombs:

        What does that even mean? You can get your news anywhere -- and there's plenty of it on this site, and in this piece. Good opinions are worth a ton, and if you don't think these are those, by all means go find them somewhere else.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        Plus, there is a simple, one-word answer as to why, in fact, there will always be interest in the TFC management job:


        And Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has lots and lots of money.
        And with that, lure Domenic Kinnear away from Houston with a big money incentive. He has proven to have the ability to mould a good squad even after losing good young talent (Holden and Cameron the latest to move onto greener pastures abroad and yet the team rebuilt and is playoff bound...again), he's tactically pragmatic (his team is currently using the formation du jour 4-3-3), and the challenge of bringing this mess to the promised land of playoffdom would only enhance future career aspirations, like USNT coach after Klinny.

        And if it doesn't work out for him? He has a helluva lot more cachet than MLSE so the suits up top will be the fall guys. And he would have no problem getting another MLS gig stateside.
      1. Poor Service's Avatar
        Poor Service -
        Keep fighting the good fight Ben!

        Need you here writing articles like this to counter balance Rollins
      1. Ben Knight's Avatar
        Ben Knight -
        I'm proud of Duane, and to be Duane's colleague.
      1. peter3's Avatar
        peter3 -
        What makes you think that MLSE cares about the quality of product they put on the pitch? Is there anything about any of the teams they field that would support such an assumption?

        These are people for whom sports franchises are all about the financial bottom line. They are the true heirs of Harold Ballard, who held fans and players in open contempt. The tickets still got purchased and Hal laughed all the way to the bank. What conceivable justification is there for thinking that MLSE is any different?

        One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. You seem to think that the people at MLSE are nuts. I don't think their plan has ever included a commitment to winning. I think they're perfecty fine with crappy soccer as long as the marks buy tickets and tune in to the broadcast.

        The only motivation they have to change is the possibility that fans will stop caring and stop watching. The evidence from hockey, basketball and baseball is that sports fans in Toronto aren't made that way. The bean counters at MLSE know that. They cut ticket prices because they believe that soccer is still a fragile commodity in Toronto and the newest part of the fan base may fall away if they continue gouging for an inferior product. They sell the move as caring about the fans and the game but, as the saying goes, the most important thing in business is sincerity and if you can fake that you've got it made. MLSE are masters of the art.
      1. Friend of Canuckistan's Avatar
        Friend of Canuckistan -
        I'm glad to see someone challenging Duane's incorrect assessment of keeping Mariner. The game vs. Montreal...Mariner was in a suit and looked very uncomfortable. Plus he was useless again. He takes off Hassli and Montreal should have scored 4 times late. Like every other game where he takes the best player off late and the other team steps on the gas peddle. They just couldn't hit the net, but should have won the game easily.

        Lowering ticket prices will not bring me or my 4 seats back in 122. Because the field product will not change as it stands. The management will not change before my lifetime. The philosphy of MLSE will never change period. Until I am proven wrong, I have decided to leave. I love Toronto a lot, but not for their teams. It's time to go until we are shown this will finally since 1967 change for the better.

        The management does not make this team, the coach does not make this team, the front office and Anselmi does NOT make this team. Only the fans make this team and this community. Once you have lost all of them, the team is nothing. FANS...only you can make the changes. It is time to step up when you get the call from your ticket rep. They will koolaid you with the lower ticket price, but the product will be the worst ever in MLS and professional soccer worldwide if the current coach and team remains. No lowered price, not even free is worth going to this until proper changes are done!
      1. Alonso's Avatar
        Alonso -
        Thanks Ben for a poignant look at what needs to change at TFC for future success and my two ticket renewals.

        This needs to be done ASAP, not two months from now where MLSE will handicap the new President/GM by leaving the appointment to far into the off season.

        Not renewing my tickets until this happens.
      1. Toronto Hope's Avatar
        Toronto Hope -
        Remember Koevermans said this was the worst team in the world. THE WORST! We really should be listening to this. This is the last comment you ever want any player, especially a DP saying about our team, but it is unfortunately true.

        The management is the ultimate worst. It is clear with the evidence of MLSE that playoff and product success is not a requirement (and for the asshole that wants to talk about that one playoff appearance for the raptors - fuck you). They don't want to win - bottom line. The fans in this city want winners. MLSE can not manage, they admitted it....but nothing changes....it's time for the fans of Toronto everything to rise up because they are the wardens beating down the inmates....we can overthrow the warden...you just have to want to...
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post

        Not news. No news here, just opinions.
        news is a commodity - can get it anywhere. analysis, insight & viewpoints especially about cdn footy are rare
      1. TFCfan4life's Avatar
        TFCfan4life -
        Love the article Ben. Keep up the good work. Call the BS for what it is. And good for John Molinaro for writing that article. Good for Jason and Craig for asking the tough questions. The media and fan base needs to keep this kind of pressure on the team to place football people with proven success (not just experience) at the helm of this team.
      1. Tuffyrocks's Avatar
        Tuffyrocks -
        There is pretty much only two voices here on CSN that constantly put out articles about TFC. Yours in the only one that makes sense when it comes to soccer in Toronto.
      1. DCorr's Avatar
        DCorr -

        Fantastic article. Really well reasoned opinion piece based on solid reasoning. I think your analogy of spousal abuse is a good one to point out that sticking with Mariner is a foolish strategy. I tend to agree with your reasoning vs. Duane's on this matter.

        I think you're right on that Anselmi is not a good soccer person (may be a good business man), but this raises another problem (perhaps its a good follow-on article). If Anselmi isn't a good 'soccer man', then how can he trust his own judgement to make decisions? Who does he turn to? In fact, he tried to get help two years ago when he hired Klinsman who came up with the strategy and then found Winter. I'm not saying we need a consult to have a new strategy - hiring a consultant to tell you your strategy is a bad move anyway, because things change once the consultant is gone, and who will monitor and adjust? What are your thoughts on how Anselmi can go about making a reasonable choice for a president?
      1. Monte's Avatar
        Monte -
        For me, it's still hard to make a decision on Mariner. I don't think there's a man alive that could have been thrown the #*&@ show Mariner was served and have been successful. I'm not saying that Paul Mariner is the solution don't get me wrong, what I AM saying is that there is no fair chance for him in the lead reign slot as head coach.

        However, as manager, he had influence on many of the decisions leading up to his taking over. I like Mariner's personality and style on the pitch, but some of his personality and style off the pitch and in the lockerroom have been questionable.

        But as Ben says, Mariner aside, there's accountability above that, and always has been throughout the history of TFC. You can't pass that accountability along forever.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        "We will continue the beatings until morale improves"
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Mariner undermined Winter and guaranteed his failure....this has been documented numerous times. This plus everything else this clown has done is not was Toronto fans need or require. He must be shown the door...preferably public humiliation style...
      1. TheatreRed's Avatar
        TheatreRed -
        Of course, I’d have felt better if Duane hadn’t started quoting the Big Soccer message boards. I haven’t given a sideways damn what that poison-dripping bog swamp thinks about anything since the infected aftermath of the Columbus road trip disaster of 2009.
        HOLY SHIT, this times a million. Duane, I enjoy your writing and even agree with you most of the time, but for the love of God, stop referencing, caring or paying any attention to that utterly worthless site.

        Fantastic article Ben, and I agree completely.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by TheatreRed View Post
        HOLY SHIT, this times a million. Duane, I enjoy your writing and even agree with you most of the time, but for the love of God, stop referencing, caring or paying any attention to that utterly worthless site.
        I don't find it any different from here, Vees forum, RPB or Usector. There is plenty of stupidity on these sites as well.
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