TFC hiring ushers in new era of the unknown

JUSTIN CONNOLLY, Sports Network

, Last Updated: 3:05 PM ET

TORONTO -- The hiring of Aron Winter, Bob de Klerk and Paul Mariner is both the final chapter of the Maurice Johnston era and the beginning of Orange-flavored football in Hogtown.

Despite the smiles at last week's press conference in Toronto, the question remains if 2011 will consist of selling hope and the delivering of failure - something that has become a trademark of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment - or if it will be a departure from the disappointment which has infected all of MLSE's sporting properties?

Toronto FC's 2010 campaign was bookended by a slow start to the season and a massive failure in the latter half. Moreover, there is the handling of captain Dwayne De Rosario's visit to Celtic, which is likely a product of his ongoing contract dispute with the club.

For a team that missed the playoffs by one point in 2009, 2010 was an abject failure. One constant between the former and current management is that each pontificated a possession-oriented playing style.

Unfortunately, Johnston's penchant for 1-2 passing-oriented football never came to fruition and the team finished no better than 11th. It remains to be seen if Winter's declaration of it being a possession-orientated attacking club will translate into winning football.

When the most ardent supporter or even the casual fan looks at the situation, emotions removed, there has to be questions asked and reservations about the future. When new management talks about time and patience, one can look at how the New York Red Bulls turned around a dreadful season into a solid campaign the next year or how the expansion Seattle Sounders were able to make a very solid run in their first season. The great constant in MLS is its parity, yet Toronto FC has never capitalized.

During the season the cream of the crop rises to the top but the playoffs offer another opportunity to determine which team is the best.

Quite often the winner of the league and the playoffs do not align.

Moreover, the past few seasons saw teams that barely crept into the playoffs make the finals, with Real Salt Lake in 2009 stealing the final spot from the grasp of Toronto FC and winning in the end.

Why after being asked for patience for four years should the followers of the Reds be patient? With ample evidence of a club able to quickly build and turn it around how many more seasons does Toronto FC need to get it right? Also, why did it take four months to put the new team in place when the season begins in March?

Whether Winter is able to bring Dutch style and possession football in the end is not the point. What is important is if Winter is able to bring in winning football. Winning makes any game of soccer beautiful and in the end that's what fans want.


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