Saturday, April 25, 2009

TFC: Carver leaves unexpectedly

It turns out there was much more to Toronto FC John Carver abandoning the bench to watch Wednesday's victory over Chivas USA than I thought. Paul Attfield of The Globe and Mail suggests that part of the reason for Carver's departure may have been a lack of support from team management, particularly regarding his $750 fine after Sunday's loss. However, the club's announcement only mentioned "personal reasons" [].

Carver spent just over a year with Toronto, recording a 11-15-10 record since taking over the franchise last February. It was by far his longest run at the helm of a franchise; he spent one game as interim manager at Newcastle United and five more as interim manager at Luton Town. Most of his other experience came as a coach and assistant manager.

That's what makes this decision somewhat curious, particularly considering its timing. Carver's record with TFC was good but not great. It might be enough to get him another MLS head coaching position, a speculation reinforced by his comments to Attfield that he plans to stay in North America for the next while. However, it's not likely enough to do much of anything for his managerial prospects in Europe, as MLS isn't all that well-regarded on the other side of the pond overall and his MLS record doesn't stand out as impressive. TFC appear to be on the ascension, though; their win Wednesday over Chivas was huge, and they have more talent than at any other point in their history. If Carver had hung on until the end of the season, his resume would appear much more impressive. However, he does have a lot of experience in an assistant managerial role and has strong connections with Newcastle; Ives Galarcep thinks there may be a connection there.

Don't rule out another MLS job for Carver, though. There are plenty of clubs that may soon be looking to make a coaching change. One of the most interesting possibilities is the defending MLS Cup champion Columbus Crew, who have struggled to an 0-2-3 record so far this year and sit at the bottom of the table. Of course, head coach Sigi Schmid left Columbus for Seattle after last year and has done very well there, while new manager Robert Warzycha doesn't seem to be making much of an impact [Jason Davis, Match Fit USA]. Could Carver turn up there? It's certainly a plausible scenario.

Where does TFC go from here? Well, assistant coaches Chris Cummins and Nick Dasovic will run the team for Sunday's match against the Kansas City Wizards, and GM Mo Johnston is expected to make a decision on the head coaching position early next week. Cummins was the team's first assistant and has experience with English sides Luton Town and Watford, so there's a good chance he'll take over in at least an interim role. Johnston could also return to the touchline himself. In the long run, my bet is that they'll bring someone in from outside. This could be a very attractive club for a manager looking for work, as they have plenty of talent, consistent support and tremendous financial backing in place from MLSE. However, the expectations are high as well, which may dissaude some candidates. We'll have to wait and see how it pans out.

Reaction from around the blogosphere (will be updated throughout the day):
- Dave Clark suggests that Cummins will leave for England if he doesn't get the head job [Sounder at Heart].
- stillkicking calls this "a shock to the fans" [Mistake by the Lake].
- You know it's Toronto when the mayor weighs in on Twitter.
- Ben Van Weelden has an interesting look back at Carver's time in Toronto, plus more on the potential departure of Cummins and Paul Winsper [TFC Connected].

[Cross-posted to The 24th Minute]


  1. Mariner is at the top of the want list for the fans, I suspect. It almost certainly has to be a foreign manager, right? I'm not aware of any viable Canadian options, and I'm guessing an American is out of the question.

  2. I'd agree with that. Dasovic would be the only plausible Canadian option (Dale Mitchell would be tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail before he did anything), and I can't see him getting the full job. Cummins is a good bet for at least the interim role and possibly more, but there's a good chance Johnston tries to make a splash and go with a big name from abroad. Plenty of managers looking for work these days.