Preki promises major change

GARETH WHEELER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

A no-nonsense message was sent loud and clear by Predrag (Preki) Radosavlijevic as he was introduced as Toronto FC's new head coach yesterday.

"Things will be different," he proclaimed, and you actually believe him.

Preki was handed a three-year contract by the club. And it's easy to see why TFC has such faith in the man. The 46-year-old oozes with confidence and professionalism, displaying the kind of charisma and passion needed to change the culture at TFC.

The former MLS coach of the year found the challenges at his former club, Chivas USA, unworkable, saying his decision to leave came months ago, after "exhausting all resources."

With TFC, ample resources are at his disposal to build something special.

Positive change will come through Preki at field level, where it's clear amateur hour is over. Accountability and professionalism will be preached. His players will have the choice whether to buy into his system or not.

"There will be two groups of players: The group that wants to go on the ship and the group that doesn't," Preki said. "It's up to them; are you in or are you out?"

TFC director of soccer Mo Johnston sang the same tune, pulling no punches -- that the previous coaching regime was incapable of overseeing the collection of players he assembled.

"I want to sit upstairs and know the locker room is run properly - end of story," Johnston said.

This will not be the case under Preki.

Issues with the problematic roster will be resolved long before Preki even holds a training session. The roster makeover starts next week, with Wednesday's expansion draft, filling the roster of the Philadelphia Union.

All protected rosters must be submitted to the league by 3 p.m. on Monday.

One player likely to be left unprotected by TFC is midfielder Amado Guevara. The Honduran playmaker had a falling out with Preki while at Chivas, leading him to be traded to TFC.

Making the club a perennial championship contender is a process he understands.

"I can't promise you we're going to win tomorrow, but we'll win soon because we're going to have a committed group on the field," he said.

GARETH.WHEELER@SUNTV.CANOE.CA


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