During one of my many online jaunts reading the news of both the EPL and MLS, I came across a story about the appointment of former Ajax winger Aron Winter as head coach of Toronto FC.
The photograph accompanying the story denoted a further two men, one of whom Paul Mariner I recognized from his recent stint as Plymouth Argyle manager. I admit to knowing little of the third member of the trio Bob De Klerk other than a brief mention of coaching Ajax’s youngsters. To many modern football fans the implementation of a tiered management structure is a good thing. This is because it breaks up the many roles of a manager and delegates them to specific members of staff selected for their knowledge on that subject.
The problem often encountered with this setup is the difference of opinion between staff. The most recent public example of this came at Newcastle United. Dennis Wise was employed as director of football and it later came out that he had signed players over the head of then manager Kevin Keegan.
Now I’m not saying the same situation will occur at TFC, partly because Mariner is in a completely different role to that of which Dennis Wise found himself in. As ‘Head of Player Development’ it would appear his inclusion on the staff is because of his coaching experience throughout the US from College level to MLS as well as a brief stint in English football.
We mustn’t forget this is Aron Winter’s first job in club management, having come from a similar background to his assistant with Jong, Ajax. To the optimistic TFC fan, Mariner will guide Winter along the right path as he forges the early years of his career in management. To the pessimist the question remains, will Paul Mariner be able to take instruction from a man who is vastly inexperienced at this level?
After all should the experiment fail, Mariner will most likely find himself out of a job. Will he be able to sit back if he feels the decision’s his head coach is making are wrong? Ultimately these questions will be answered over the course of the next few seasons.
One of the first decisions the pair will have to make is whether the club will retain all time leading goal scorer Dwayne De Rosario. The player himself seems confident of a deal but was still able to fire a subtle dig at the new coaching staff claiming if the deal was a priority to Winter and Mariner: “It would have gotten done a long time ago.”
Not quite the words of a happy player, and despite being 32 years old, Rosario is still a vital cog of the Toronto machine. His experience much like Mariner’s will be vital to a young Toronto side if they want to reach the playoffs after last season’s disappointing finish. When you also consider 26 of the club’s 70 goals have come from the Canadian international he’s useful both on and off the field.
In truth, I see Toronto struggling this year. It’s something I know that will not go down well with the fantastic fans that regularly fill the BMO Field stadium. Systems like the one they are attempting often take time to become established and bear success, whether those in charge at Toronto will afford them that time is another question all together.