Friday, February 1, 2008

John Carver Named Head Coach

Toronto FC announced today that Mo Johnston has handed over coaching duties to John Carver, Carver will take over as head coach and Johnston will move upstairs where he will function as a full time general manager. This ends Mo Johnston’s short reign as head coach of Toronto FC, where he only spent a year.

Without knowing too much about Carver, it is hard to know exactly what he will bring to the table as head coach. It is also unknown how much Johnston’s role has actually changed with Toronto FC, as it was believed that Bob Gansler was in charge of a large majority of the on field tactics and strategy. However there is no doubt that Mo had his focus on both, and now with the insertion of Carver has head coach, Johnston will be able to turn his attention to building this team through transfers, youth development, and the draft. On the surface, this is nothing but good news for Toronto FC, and its fans, as both Carver and Johnston now have their set roles with the club. Johnston had hinted before that a move upstairs was in the mix, but the rumour never truly evolved until today, as there were no hints anywhere in the media that Johnston would be on the way out as coach. However Johnston has obviously been searching, and finally found his man in John Carver.

Carver comes to Toronto FC having worked overseas in England for Newcastle United, Leeds, and Luton. He started his coaching career working as an assistant manager to Sir Bobby Robson at Newcastle, where he would later take over as a caretaker manager after Robson was sacked in September 2004. Carver would guide Newcastle to a 3-0 win over Blackburn, his only game in charge of the club. After the game Carver dedicated the win to Robson, "I want to dedicate this win to Bobby Robson because it was the hard work he put in to this club that came out today". Graeme Souness would then come in and take over as manager, and Carver was sacked as Souness opted to bring in his own staff. 10 months later Carver was again back in the world of football, taking over as head coach again, this time with Leeds United following the departure of Adrian Boothroyd to Watford. As Carver took over, speculation would grow about his quick departure as job openings popped up with Scottish side Hearts, and Carlisle United. However, Carver would stay loyal to Leeds, and stay on as head coach. Leeds rewarded his decision, and promoted him to assistant manager behind Kevin Blackwell. His position as assistant manager was short lived, as Blackwell was sacked soon after Carvers promotion. He would again take over as a caretaker manager, guiding the team to a 3-2 win over Birmingham City in his first game as manager. However, Carver was again let go after a series of crushing defeats that would follow the clubs promising first win. He was then brought in as head coach with Luton Town, where Carver’s roller coaster career would just get worse. After joining the financially troubled club, Carver had no real control over the anything as trouble was on the horizon. He described his experience as “hell”, as the club faced countless charges from the FA. He and manager Kevin Blackwell would lose all control over the club, as decisions were out of their hands. Transfers were made without their control, and the club sunk to an all time low. Carver and the rest of the staff were simply puppets, and nothing more. Carver was again sacked at Luton, even though it is clear that he did nothing wrong. It is easy to simply look at the stats, and call Carver a bad coach. However, John Carver has been through more than most managers. Some people have called him one of the top up and coming coaches in England, with him being rumoured to take over as Irish national team coach and was as a candidate for a return to Newcastle before Kevin Keegan was named manager.

From what I have read, Carver is an attacking minded coach, he has been described as gung-ho, and he does not shy away from attacking formations. This is very good news for Toronto FC, who seemed to play under a sometimes cautious system under Johnston. Expect a different style of play next season under Carver. He is also a fiery man as well, who won’t take shi*t from anyone. He recently admitted to throwing punches at troubled striker Craig Bellamy, and I know you never want to see this in the world of football, but in this instance, I applaud Carver for his actions. I mean c’mon, it’s Craig Bellamy! Players who continually slack, or show no interest (you know who I’m referring to), will be dealt with.

John Carver should be a welcome addition to Toronto FC, and I don’t think anyone should be complaining about this move. It was needed, and it will benefit Toronto FC in the long run. Who knows if his style will fit Toronto FC, time will tell, but on the surface, this move gets an A+ from me. I trust Mo Johnston as a talent evaluator, as you probably know, and he will now be able to focus on one thing, building this team, and I feel 100% comfortable with him at the helm.

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