TFC goes Dutch

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:19 PM ET

Attack, attack, attack.

With those three words, Toronto FC's new head coach and technical director Aron Winter launched his era with the Major League Soccer side.

A tall order on the first day of business in 2011 for a club that has been offensively starved almost from its first day on the pitch back in 2007.

Winter, who was introduced to the media at the Air Canada Centre on Thursday along with director of player development Paul Mariner and first assistant coach Bob de Klerk, didn't much care for a history lesson of a side that has yet to host a playoff game in its four MLS seasons.

Instead he wanted to talk about the future-- one that he hopes will reward a loyal, but growing restless, band of supporters.

First on his agenda is developing a three-prong offence that will be loosely based on what the 43-year-old Winter grew up on at the Netherlands Ajax club where he cut his soccer teeth.

"Everybody knows that in Holland we are used to playing with three strikers," Winter said. "And while I want to establish our own style here with Toronto FC, that style will include three strikers."

Winter, who admitted he will rely heavily on Mariner -- a former assistant with the hugely successful New England Revolution -- to learn the ins and outs of the North American game, was adamant that TFC will be an offence-first side under his command.

"We want to dominate every game we are in," he said.

One criticism already being levelled at the new TFC coach among the ravenous Reds supporter groups is that it will be difficult for him to transfer what Ajax does on the pitch given the dearth of goal scorers presently in Toronto.

"We are talking about two different teams -- Toronto and Ajax," Winter said. "But I want to bring (Ajax style soccer) to Toronto."

He added, however, said that it will be up to him to find the right players for the job.

"But we know we cannot develop this right away. We will have to go slowly," Winter said. "Of course we have to have the players who can play that style. Right now we want to assess the positions where we have to be better.

"And we need the time to teach them to play they way I want them to play."

The way he wants TFC to play is to be in control of the ball at every opportunity.

"It is going to be attacking soccer," Winter said. "The fans will see a lot more movement than they have seen here before".

Unfortunately under the previous regime of Mo Johnston and Preki, the only real movement on TFC was the constant turnover of players that led to much frustration among the masses who packed BMO Field match after match.

Winter will also face pressure from his Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. bosses, who are anxious to appease fans, who for the first time are showing signs they can't be counted on to fill BMO Field win or loose.

On Thursday, MLSE executive vice-president and chief operating officer Tom Anselmi made it clear he wants results.

"We have been working over the past few months to build an integrated soccer system that will give us the best opportunity to succeed on the pitch," Anselmi said.

In other housekeeping business Anselmi also announced new positions for former interim general manger Earl Cochrane, former players Jim Brennan and Danny Dichio and former interim coach Nick Dasovic.

Cochrane has been named Toronto FC's Director of Team and Player Operations, while Brennan, Dasovic and Dichio will be given as yet defined roles with the club.

"We want to thank the existing team staff for their hard work and dedication to Toronto FC over the past few months." Anselmi said. "This new structure gives ongoing opportunities for them to play a big role in the future of the club."

dean.mcnulty@sunmedia.ca


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