Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A new Era at Toronto FC

Hello all! Welcome to 2011! I hope you had a great holidays. As for TFC supporters they are about to get a welcome post Christmas gift with the official announcement of the new football management team. Tomorrow's press conference at the Air Canada Centre will confirm the news that has pretty much been known since Monday, Former Dutch international Aron Winter will be the clubs new technical director and Head Coach. Paul Mariner will join as GM or a higher management role, and Bob de Klerk will be first team assistant to Winter.

New TFC head coach Aron Winter (Middle)

Winter is a former Ajax, Lazio and Inter Milan midfielder with an extremely high pedigree. On the sidelines he has been an assistant at Ajax for the past 5 years along with Bob de Klerk. When Jugren Klinsman had his press conference in November he spoke about the club identifying a method of play, a philosophy which would define the way the club developed players. Clearly the hierarchy at TFC have chosen the Dutch style of "Total Football". I could go into what exactly total football means and how it looks tactically, but tactics are not my strong suit. Ben Rycroft executive editor of has broken down the system terrifically in his article It's The Tactics Stupid - Total Football Club (Part 1).

What Winter and de Klerk can bring is the intimate knowledge of this system that is an attractive style of play to watch. The system also calls for development of youth specifically focusing on developing on the ball skills, positional play and positional awareness. As players can play in a multitude places on the pitch in a match, those skills are extremely important for a young player to know. The two new first team coaches also bring a fresh approach to how TFC operate.

For the first 4 years of TFC 's existence the club has been run into the ground by former Director of Football Operations Mo Johnston. The club aside from a few players signed the wrong footballers on the wrong wages, it was clear there was no idea on how the club were going to play or develop its youth. It may be too early to tell if the new policy will be a success, but it's already a step further then the club has been in four years.

Paul Mariner the new GM

The other important piece of the new management team is Paul Mariner who is no stranger to the MLS. In his expected role as GM he has the experience to find and select players to fit Winter's style of play. He knows the league and its talent, Mariner is also experienced with the ultra confusing MLS salary cap and the rules around it. He also can be the link between Winter and the league. There will be many...many things Winter will have to learn about the MLS, it is very different than Europe on how the leagues work there. Mariner's excellent track record with the New England Revolution (4 MLS cup finals in a row) can act as the administrative head while Winter and de Klerk can focus on the first team.

It'll be interesting what they all will have to say tomorrow. Whatever the case may be it's an exciting time for the club ahead of the MLS Superdraft next Thursday.


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