Cheer on this, Preki

GARETH WHEELER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

Toronto FC hasn't even played a regular season game and he has gone there already. And if that is how Preki feels, he hasn't seen anything yet.

Excuse me? Is there something we're missing? Are we supposed to be cheerleaders?

The media is supposed to be an extension of the fan-base, asking and answering the questions the fans cannot ask. Like it or not, Preki, it's in the job description. And so is accountability from the team, and the head coach is the front man. Threatening to shun the media is essentially eliminating access to the team for the fans. And that is unacceptable, even if the motive is protecting his players.

Truly sorry, sir, if you feel overwhelmed by the negative press. It sure beats next to no press you received while at Chivas USA. An apathetic, uninterested fan base is a bigger concern. Good press, bad press, as long as people care enough to crave coverage and form opinions, it's a good thing.

Making matters worse, Preki's threat looks terrible coming from a team with a past of being inaccessible in comparison to Toronto's other teams that require less press.

Criticism of an uninspiring pre-season -- marked by players leaving or being exiled with little of significance coming back the other way, a squad with no stability in defence and even less in attack, and a side short in numbers -- is well warranted.

The actual quality of the team will become apparent in the coming weeks. Still, there is nothing wrong with the current negativity.

But, excuse me? Rally around the team? A threat of being positive or else? That kind of narrative is nonsense. And Preki should rightfully be taken to task for publicly denouncing Toronto's soccer onlookers' honest assessment of his team.

This is the one media market that treats its MLS team like a big boy. Regardless, the performance or lack of accountability, fans continue to support TFC, and good on them for it. And when the results don't show, is the media supposed to stand on the sidelines and smile because it's all a good time?

Absolutely not.

Believe it or not, the media, just like the rest of the city, desperately wants this team to win. Not because we have vested interested. Telling stories of success and triumph are much more enjoyable than talking controversy and defeat.

Repeatedly, the media and supporters have given TFC the benefit of the doubt. Call it part-ignorance and part soccer finally getting meaningful coverage in a market in which it's been underappreciated for so long. The climate has changed in this city with sports editors acknowledging it's worthwhile to cover. The way to turn back the clock is for the club to continue not making its players and/or coach accessible. The TFC conversation will become muted.

So, message to Preki: There is nothing wrong with the media calling a spade a spade. If you want half-truths or cute stories, go to the team's website or television channel.

Give Mo Johnston the credit he deserves on this end. TFC's director of soccer has taken boatloads of criticism and faced the music publicly, being more than generous with his time -- at least with this writer. He can take criticism. He can take the heat. Johnston knows how important the media is, and rest assured this message will be delivered to Preki.

So, congrats to TFC on being favourites to host the 2010 MLS Cup and on your grass. Kudos for selling out games and for being a team that makes money.

But for all the money made, the lack of accountability hurts the credibility of your product. And a head coach not talking to the media won't change that.

Instead, the media will just stop talking to you. Then the fans will stop talking about you, too.

GARETH.WHEELER@SUNTV.CANOE.CA


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