Paul Mariner is not short of confidence.

The embattled Toronto FC manager does not back down from criticism, nor does he try to project fake humility. Actually, he’s brazen. When asked at the season ending press conference why Toronto fans should trust that he can turn TFC around he glared at the asker and grunted an answer that only the most shameless could muster.

“Because I’m very good at my job,” he spat back.

Well, then.

Toronto fans can be forgiven for being skeptical. This wasn’t Jose Mourinho or Alex Ferguson talking, after all. Hell, it wasn’t even Roberto Mancini or Tony Pulis.

No, it’s a guy coming off a 14-game win-less streak who counts an unsuccessful stint at Plymouth Argyle as his only previous managerial experience. It isn’t clear that he’s earned the level of arrogance he projects.

Of course he’d probably call it confidence. MLSE should hope that it isn’t misguided because it’s unclear how much patience fans have left for Mariner or the club. In today’s hurry-up-and-wait society, clubs cannot expect fans to remain loyal for generations as they try and figure things out. That’s especially the case in a town like Toronto where entertainment options are plentiful, the baseball team that plays at the same time as TFC is grabbing headlines and most fans maintain European or South American football loyalties.

Management is lucky right now—TFC still makes a lot of people angry. That’s not good, but it’s a lot better than indifference. If Mariner’s attempts at shaping TFC’s seventh re-build go as poorly as the majority fans seem to think it will that’s exactly what MLSE will be facing at this time next year.

Should we have any confidence that he can prove the detractors wrong? Unfortunately, we can’t know for sure until he is given more time. That’s not a message his harshest critics like to hear—they want him gone yesterday—but MLS history suggests that a half a season (or even two seasons, if you are prone to believe Mariner must take responsibility for the players that played under Aron Winter) is not enough time.

There were plenty of fans screaming for the necks of Sigi Schmid in 2007, Peter Vermes in 2010 and Frank Yallop in 2011. All three men are the toast of the league now and TFC fans would be doing back flips at the news that any of them were coming to Canada to manage the Reds.

Fans, by their nature, tend to be reactionary. Toronto as a club has been reactionary throughout its history and look where it has gotten them: as the old adage goes, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.

So, Mariner won’t be fired anytime soon. Until 2013 starts fans can only lament his perceived failings in man management and tactical thinking.

With the former, Mariner has been accused of calling out his players in public, even, allegedly, during games when fans called on him to make substitutions during games.

At this week’s townhall meetings, fans have reported that he has called Reggie Lambe and Joao Plata “one in sixers”, meaning that they can only be counted on to show up in one of six games.

The fans argue that this will erode these players confidence and be counterproductive to their development. The counterpart to that argument is that Winter treated them with kid gloves and was rewarded with nine straight losses in 2012 (see above point about the folly of repeating behaviours and expecting different results).

Tactically fans have pejoratively called Mariner a “hoofball” manager, suggesting that he wants to turn TFC of 2013 into Watford of 1983 (the argument tends to ignore that Watford finished second in the First Division that year). Marnier counters by saying that he had no choice but to play a simple game in 2012 because his players weren’t good enough (which brings the argument back to how he manages players).

And the argument goes round and round as fans express their frustrating and Mariner remains steadfast in his opinion that he’s the right man to lead TFC out of its funk.

The debate will be settled on the pitch, of course. In the meantime only one thing is certain: The future relevancy of TFC is solidly in the hands of a man that few fans like and less trust.

Fans don’t have to like Mariner, but if they still care about TFC they must cheer for his success.

Comments (18)

  1. I really wonder what the source of Mariner’s arrogance is. it was truly baffling to see how he responded to questions during the town hall on Monday. wonder what he will do tonight with the camera’s rolling (though rachel has all of monday recorded….)

  2. “The debate will be settled on the pitch, of course.”

    Which debate is that exactly? The one where some idiot makes a laughably ridiculous claim that flies in the face of easily observable facts (14 game winless streak, last place league finish, loss of dressing room, waning fan interest, etc.)

    There is no debate. Mariner is incompetent and TFC suck horribly (and for the record, I used to be a logo’d-merchandise-buying fan). And there has been absolutely no changes made that give any rational person reason to believe this will change in the short to medium term.

    Confidence is good. Arrogance is unattractive. Grandiose delusion is a clinically treatable condition.

    • The debate of whether he can turn it around. You *assume* he can’t. Your assumptions are not fact, however.

      • An *assumption* is a belief that is not based on observable facts.

        Here is what I have observed:
        - the season ended in a 14 game winless streak with Mariner at the helm
        - during his tenure, the team went from last place to last place
        - according to my quick calculations, his record since taking over is: W-3, D-8, L-13. That is 17 pts from a possible 72
        - In terms of actual play, I saw nothing on the field that lead me to believe Mariner offered anything new or inspiring
        - based on some reported comments (JDG’s being the most notable) it seems like Matriner’s personnel skills are pretty shit

        To portray my comments as an unfounded assumption makes you come across as some sort of fanboy apologist.

        • Then you can’ read because the article did not apologize for anything.

          • I never said the article apologized brainiac – I said DR comes across like an apologist if he ignores Mariner’s absolute shit record and pretends that there is a big debate to settle about whether or not Mariner can ‘right the ship’. The fact is that he hasn’t done anything in his 5 months in charge to inspire confidence that next year will be anything but a continued clusterfuck.

            And for the record, I am not someone who is always posting kneejerk negative comments on here (some seem to be resisting the changes at the FB cum CA.). But I am also going to call out silly statements when I see them.

  3. “I am very good at my job”.
    Yeah, a low 20′s win % overall as a manager is just outstanding!! I am sure it was all the previous managers fault at Plymouth as well.

  4. Wow. TFC seems to attract all the loonies. I think we need to clear the deck. The only hope is for MLSE to sell to local private ownership and start from scratch. I can’t see any light at the end of this tunnel under the current conditions. Very disappointing and very sad for us fans.

    • I don’t think it could be bought. To rogers the value of the team is greater than what someone should be willing to pay for it. With their vertical integration, the cross promotion and ownership of most of the TV outlets that broadcast the games makes rogers more cash than an independent would bring to the table when they consider the future cash flows from just owning the team.

      But fuck I would like to see someone with passion and guts buy the team for sure.

  5. It is fine that you ask for patience Duane, that is your opinion. But phrases like this, ” It isn’t clear that he’s earned the level of arrogance he projects.” is what drive people crazy. It IS CLEAR that he HAS NOT earned the level of arrogance he projects. I know your are intending to be ironic in your tone but this is the reason why many with reason are calling you out as an apologist without facts. Because the fact is clear: that Mariner is being an arrogant arse incapable of clearly explaining the errors of his own account you are writing “well maybe you can see it that way”. He may in fact turn out to be a great manager as in it MAY turn out that Japan wins the next men’s world cup; Japan does have time, some decent players, but absolutely no history of doing that well and many observable problems. Japan saying it is going to win the world cup without doubt, and those that don’t agree should met them on the exit to the stadium, is not going to be taken serious by any journalist.

    Defending the argument that Mariner needs time, sure. But don’t weasel out of the most obvious facts: Mariner is acting like an arrogant buffoon – it is not false humility. We had one of these before in MoJo and we come out looking like idiots for falling for the same trick twice.

    • With all due respect, I didn’t ask for anything in the article. I simply presented the positions that were out there.

      • Duane, you write your opinion thick with intention. I do not know why after you play that opinion is not clearly marked. Is it because you think your readers are stupid (which is at least the impression your writing tone often takes, particularly in comments)?

        I should have been more careful: you are right you did not literally “ask”, you told the reader to be patient with Mariner – or they don’t care about TFC.

        • I said that if they care about the club they have to want him to succeed. I stand by that. The alternative is to cheer for the club to fail and, I’m sorry, that isn’t the definition of caring about the club under any circumstance.

          • Disagree, simplistic and sloppy line of reasoning.

            They want him to ‘fail’ given that they are of the opinion he will never be successful. So the bad house guest leaves early rather than prolongs his stay.

          • I want the club to be able to hire people qualified for the position, plain and simple. TFC offers very little to those who follow the team besides their marketing image, which is painful, despite the many attempts by others to add extra dimensions to the relationship. At the end of the day, if demanding that only qualified people work for the club is TOO MUCH then there really is not much left to relate to the club with.

            Having someone who has failed very badly as manager in the responsibilities and games he has had at TFC, with little previous success, insults players and fans, a growing account of players willing to say “this guy treated me very poorly” (how often does that happen despite many managers being less than friendly guys), and cannot account for why things are not going well nor improving is not qualified. Time MAY prove me and others wrong, yes you have that on your side, but saying that I and everyone else should accept and love the club just because of an argument for patience is telling me the last bastion of being a supporter of this club – some sense of reasonable expectations to not be insulted by staff of the club… because that is what Mariner did when he sat there and said the problems were injuries and oh by the way he rates himself as a great manager.

            Ever had someone come up to you in your line of work, who has clearly not accomplished their goals, but says “don’t worry, give me time because I’m great” but cannot explain to you what they are actually going to do or why they didn’t achieve their goals in a reasonable manner? How do you think you would react to that person? It would be a lie to say you would not at the very least respond with great hesitation and irritation I expect; maybe not…

  6. It’s a simple and obvious pattern, local footy scribes can’t see.
    Mariner could lose lose another 10 games and still shift blame. The story is that he’s good at deflecting responsibility.

  7. I just dropped 5 season seats. They have no direction even the staff selling tickets don’t know what to say. They just keep extending the deadline date week by week hoping people will renew.

    Paul Mariner is a banana. Many teams play much better with about the same group of talent available to mls clubs.

    The team will not get better, I’m not wasting my time anymore.

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