Toronto FC: 8 coaches depart franchise in 8 troubled years
Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko, right, names Greg Vanney, left, as head coach of the club replacing Ryan Nelsen during a press conference in Toronto on Sunday, August 31, 2014. (The Canadian Press / Michelle Siu)
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, September 1, 2014 1:16PM EDT
When Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko fired head coach Ryan Nelsen and replaced him with Greg Vanney on Sunday, it marked the eighth coaching change in the franchise's tumultuous eight-year history.
TFC has never qualified for the playoffs, and constant management changes may be one of the reasons why. The team has had multiple presidents, directors and general managers over the last eight years. Its parent company, Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, has also changed hands and had multiple bosses.
No one has coached Toronto FC for two full calendar years, and the average tenure of the last eight TFC coaches is just 362.5 days – less than a year. The coaching position has been in a constant state of flux since the franchise was founded in 2006, and Nelsen's 601 days on the job make him the longest-serving coach in team history.
Here's a look at how Nelsen’s tenure as coach stacks up against his seven predecessors.
1. Mo Johnston – Aug. 22, 2006 to Feb. 1, 2008 (497 days)
Former MLS soccer player Mo Johnston became the first coach in Toronto FC history in 2006. He led the team to a 6-17-7 record in its inaugural 2007 season before he was promoted to a managerial position the next year.
Johnston served as Director of Soccer until September 2010, when he was fired along with the then-coach.
2. John Carver – Feb. 1, 2008 to Apr. 25, 2009 (449 days)
After Johnston was promoted to Director of Soccer, he hired former English soccer player John Carver to coach TFC.
Carver resigned in April 2009, a few days after MLS fined him $750 for criticizing a referee. He finished with an 11-15-10 record overall during his time with the team.
3. Chris Cummins (interim) – Apr. 29, 2009 to Oct. 24, 2009 (178 days)
Assistant Chris Cummins took over as interim head coach after Carver's departure, and finished the season with an 8-9-7 record before resigning for personal reasons.
He slammed some his TFC players in his exit news conference, saying the roster was plagued by "bad apples" and "poor characters."
He said he left the players with a simple message: "I just said to them there, 'Listen lads, I do wish 95 per cent of you all the very best and I hope you go on and do well, and you know who you are. The other five per cent of you, I couldn't care if I don't see you again, to be honest with you."
Cummins compiled the best winning percentage in team history.
4. Preki – Nov. 19, 2009 to Sep. 14, 2010 (329 days)
After Cummins, Mo Johnston hired former MLS coach of the year Preki -- more formally known as Predrag Radosavljevic -- to turn the team around.
But Preki's old-school approach didn't sit well with his star players, and when TFC fell into a 1-6-3 slump at the end of the 2010 season, Preki and Johnston were both fired.
On the same day the coach was fired, TFC stars Dwyane De Rosario and Julian de Guzman slammed Preki’s strict, disciplinarian style and apparent lack of strategy. Rumours also circulated that team staff had campaigned for his firing.
Preki finished with an 11-11-10 record through 32 games.
5. Nick Dasovic – Sep. 14, 2010 to Jan. 6, 2011 (114 days)
Dasovic took over from Preki and went 3-4-3 to finish the season with TFC, but he didn't stick around for the following season.
6. Aron Winter – Jan. 6, 2011 to June 7, 2012 (518 days)
Aron Winter led Toronto FC to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals in 2011, but the team still finished near the bottom of the league during the regular season. In 2012, Winter coached TFC to an MLS record for the worst start to a season: nine losses, followed by a win.
Winter was fired 10 games into the season, and finished with a 7-22-15 record. His team won only one away game during his tenure.
7. Paul Mariner – June 7, 2012 to Jan. 7, 2013 (214 days)
Director of Player Development Paul Mariner took over after Winter was fired. Mariner coached the remainder of the 2012 season and finished with a 4-12-8 regular season record. That record, combined with Winter's 1-9 start, made 2012 the worst season for TFC in franchise history.
Newly-hired TFC president and general manager Kevin Payne fired Mariner on Jan. 7, 2013.
8. Ryan Nelsen – Jan. 7, 2013 to Aug. 31, 2014 (601 days)
New TFC boss Kevin Payne hired 35-year-old Ryan Nelsen as his coach on Jan. 7, 2013. Nelsen was still playing professional soccer in the English Premier League at the time he was hired, but he left England to join TFC just in time for the February start to pre-season.
Kevin Payne was fired in September 2013 and replaced by Tim Bezbatchenko as the team's GM. Bezbatchenko and Nelsen reportedly didn't get along, and their prickly relationship came to a head last week.
Nelsen and his coaching staff were fired on Sunday after he criticized the team's GM for publicly challenging his players to win their next game.
Bezbatchenko rejected the suggestion that Nelsen's comments had anything to do with the firing. Instead, he said the coach's season record was not good enough.
Nelsen leaves with a regular season record of 15-26-17.