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At Toronto FC, butting in where only a coach should

Feb 1, 2013, 9:46 AM EDT

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Most of us will never for sure about the true dearth of conditioning for the Toronto FC players as they came into preseason camp.

Are we talking a few extra Christmas cookies here, just enough misdemeanor stuff to shave a few points off the fitness testing? Or was this closer to true felony flab?

But most reasonable folks among us do know this:

All kinds of question marks go flying when a team president is speaking directly to players about matters the coach should be addressing.

Toronto FC president Kevin Payne has blasted his team’s collective level of conditioning. Conditioning, of course, is an area that almost always falls under coaching purview.

Granted, this is a unique situation, where the coach was hired while he was still, well, a little busy. Ryan Nelsen is only now coming aboard, more than a week into preseason training, having finalized his playing days with Queens Park Rangers.

(MORE: Reactions to the odd situation previously around TFC)

Neither should Payne make a habit of harking back to his long days at D.C. United, as in, “This is how we did it at United …” Check the box on “very bad idea” on that one, which would quickly become tiresome to TFC fans who, you know, don’t really care about how Payne or anyone else did things at United.

Here’s what Payne had to say about several Toronto FC players:

I told them, ‘You will never, ever come back here after a break looking like this again. It just won’t happen, or you won’t be here, end of story.’ Lots of guys did a great job, came back in great shape, but there were more than one or two who were not close to being fit.”

In D.C., we didn’t accept it and there was an enormous level of peer pressure brought to bear on guys that showed up unfit, and we need to get to that point here. That’s not the case right now. I didn’t see any evidence of that within the locker room.”

  1. jolo2000 - Feb 1, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    I agree he needs to give the DC comments a rest, it sounds super tacky and a bit immature. However, I don’t see the issue with the President of the club being pissed that the squad he has inherited has come in out of shape. I think the statement is that the club has a poor structure in place, and that kind of crap is where it starts. Also, he is essentially the GM there right? So he is the guy who makes the roster moves, and can cast these guys aside. Don’t forget the obvious here too, it allows him to set Nelsen up to be the good cop, the players coach, and he will be the bad cop. Management teams often need that balance.

    • Steve Davis - Feb 1, 2013 at 12:10 PM

      Interesting theory on “good cop, bad cop.” Generally, I just believe that traditional roles serve a purpose. I always wince when I see executives commenting on tactics, game-day personnel selections, etc. Fitness may fall into some “in-between,” I suppose, but it’s still a dangerous sign in my mind.

      • wesbadia - Feb 1, 2013 at 1:49 PM

        Considering the state the entire TFC franchise is in (has been for years), I think a heavy-handed authoritarian in the spot of GM is needed for the next few months until there’s evidence that the current team can put W’s on the board. If Payne’s comments persist after that, then I think it’s good time to call him on it.

  2. charliej11 - Feb 1, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    We will see if I am wrong, but from what I see the current coach is more worried that some team in England, that will never, ever win anything, has him play for them for two more game rather than focusing on winning at Toronto, who is playing in Champions League and playing to win MLS, a very competitive league.

    Wonder why coaches from Europe get a bad wrap ? They don’t get soccer in the US……at all. It is a competition, where teams have a chance to win, but it is really hard to do so.

  3. ossingtonmentalyouth - Feb 1, 2013 at 5:36 PM

    Uh hes officially with TFC today.
    Also TFC isnt in the Champions League this year.
    Also Nelsen played in the MLS for 8 years.

  4. ossingtonmentalyouth - Feb 1, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    Steve you should look at the commenting options for this, as of right now I have to register and start my own blog in order to make comments. I definitely dont need a blog.

    • wfjackson3 - Feb 1, 2013 at 6:08 PM

      I am pretty sure you can use OpenID instead, which uses credentials from Google and other huge websites.

    • Steve Davis - Feb 1, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      I know. The commenting / blog element is cumbersome. It’s an NBC thing. Believe me, I wish there was a way around it. Hopefully there will be soon … one day … something

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