Mariner says rumors of feud with Winter "ridiculous"

TORONTO –  New Toronto FC head coach Paul Mariner shot down rumors that he had a strained relationship with outgoing coach Aron Winter on Thursday, dismissing the idea as “ridiculous.”

Mariner, who became TFC’s new man in charge after the club and Winter decided to part ways amid a dismal start to the season, said the rumors first emerged as far back as January, during the MLS Combine.

“I think it’s maybe a simplistic view by some people in the media,” Mariner said, stressing there was little to be gleaned from the news that Mariner preferred not to watch games with Winter or former assistant and current technical director Bob de Klerk.

“If I’m watching a game, I don’t really want to sit with Bob, I don’t want to sit with Aron,” Mariner said. “I don’t want to sit with anybody. I want to make my own decision. I want to make my opinion on players because it’s all about opinion, always is.”

Mariner insisted that his experience has taught him it’s better not to sit with others during a match because, “it’s not an environment to have a discussion.”

“In our game, you don’t really have to socialize outside of the office,” he said. “We have got lives to live and wives and family to get to. I'm not about having a coffee with Aron every night. Don't read too much into it."

Mariner added that, as director of player development, he offered Winter his advice, but there was never a power struggle.

“Aron was the boss,” Mariner said. “All I can do is give my advice. I’m not the type of person that holds back on an opinion. Bob and I have many, many heated discussions about systems and players and Holland and England. But that’s not to say that we don’t have a very good relationship. We have a very good relationship. What you see on the outside is not always reality.

“Aron and I have had many, many dinners and cups of coffee and discussions about direction, long-term and short term.”