Saturday, November 24, 2012

TFC Town Hall 2012 - just waiting for this ship to sail...

A handful of days have passed by and I am still wrestling with impressions from the TFC town hall meetings this week. I attended one town hall meeting on Monday evening and managed to watch the webcast of the Wednesday evening too.

I strongly appreciate the town hall format and opportunity. I can recall in the first one I attended, I wrapped all of my complaints around one phrase “What makes this a club?” I think that part of the answer would rest in the very fact that TFC has town hall meetings. We fans are not customers in a detached sense or a focus group, but members of a football club.

I think that some of my discomfort with the present state of the team is connected to my perception of the worst aspects of the Toronto sports fan. I do not have enough experience to compare to other places, but I do see Toronto fans as a fickle group. There are too many tourists and not enough fanatics. I have seen this happen over and over again, bandwagon fans that know the fashion far better than the passion. Toronto Argo fans became NFL fans and Blue Jay fans became empty seats.  I could go into the lack of passionate support in the world of basketball and hockey, but I lack the energy to go there.

I thought that Paul Beirne and Earl Cochrane did as well as could be expected considering how lousy the team was this year. I thought that Thomas Rongen of the TFC Academy was the most hopeful of the group. Really, he had better be. If the leader of your academy is saying there is no hope for the years ahead, all is lost.
The task of developing local talent does take us into the shadow cast by the horrible 8-1 loss in Guatemala for Canada recently. At both the club and country level the Canadian Men’s golden generation seems off the horizon (my sources claim they are now playing U12).
Paul Mariner is another matter. I think that he is a coach on thin ice and he does or says very little that makes you want to cheer for him to stay dry. I think he talked at the town hall much in the same manner that he coached this year, as if he had little to do with the team. When things go wrong, they are Aron Winter’s mistakes. When he looks back at the season he put the parade of losses on unfortunate injuries. After the last home game of the season I caught Nigel Reed on the radio sharing his opinion of Paul Mariner. He said that there are coaches who are best suited to be assistants and it is possible that Mariner is in that category.

The fact of the matter is that Tom Anselmi’s promotion to MLSE head honcho means that hiring a president of TFC is a priority. I think I read somewhere that the hiring could be done before the end of the year. It did feel weird at the town hall not having Anselmi there. I think the questions from the floor about the front office structure were a reflection of that absence. The underlying question was “who can fire who around here?” You never had to ponder that question when master plan Tom was on the scene.
It might be logical that a new president would understand that Mariner is the coach, for now. A weak start to 2013 and I am willing to bet the new president, assuming they hire someone worthy, will place himself in the coach role too.

If the world and TFC prospects surprise me and Mariner remains coach of TFC next year, come town hall meeting time, I promise to ask a question that opens with an apology.
In the end town hall is just a way to say welcome to the off-season. Funny, it has felt like off-season for months now.

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