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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.”

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