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Gansler departure leaves void in Toronto
by Ridge Mahoney, December 10th, 2007 11:45AM

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Remember the item of a few months back referring to a "disgruntled Eastern Conference assistant coach?" He wasn't, as some suspected, working for Red Bull New York, at which confusion or miscommunication between former head coach Bruce Arena and his assistants filtered down to the players and helped trigger Arena's departure shortly after RBNY was eliminated in the playoffs.

For disgruntlement, look north of the border.

Bob Gansler has left Toronto FC after serving a season as Mo Johnston's assistant, the duties of which apparently included actually coaching the team.

According to sources, Gansler objected to serving as de facto head coach without appropriate authority and compensation. With Johnston and Gansler often at impasse, Johnston's other assistant, Mike Matkovich, ran the training sessions.

A source also said certain nuances of the modern game, like defending set plays and tactical adjustments, only occasionally were addressed by Johnston, who may have indeed envisioned himself as a "manager" delegating most of the training duties to his assistant coaches.

However, if this was to be the case, it was not declared to Gansler, who left his post as soon as the season ended. And in any case, the head coach or the manager or whatever his title decides on strategy.

During the season, TFC management announced it had exercised the option on Johnston's contract. The team's rough inaugural season (6-17-7) and impotent attack (25 goals in 30 matches) didn't dissuade fans from flocking to BMO Field, where TFC's average attendance of 20,130 ranked third in the league.

Johnston hit it off with the TFC fans. Pub crawls, fan fests, public appearances; Johnston seldom missed a chance to connect with Toronto's rabid, red-clad rowdies.

He provided the media with punchy quotes and snappy sound bites, and in perhaps the most European city in North America -- with a generous layering of Scottish supporters -- the first run of Trader Mo played well.

But as per tactical decisions, personnel choices and deployment, and general coaching savvy, Johnston, like his team, went through growing pains. Whoever follows Gansler as his running mate had best heed any employment-related issues before, not after, the fact.

A fantastic fan base in a great city deserves inspiration and dedication from top to bottom.

 



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