Timing of Winter's dismissal catches TFC players off guard

Aron Winter

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TORONTO – The timing of Aron Winter’s departure as Toronto FC’s head coach and technical director was a surprise for some of the players because of the timing.

It came after two wins in a row – the Amway Canadian Championship final and a league game against the Philadelphia Union – on May 23 and 26, and late in the second week of the international break in the schedule.

“Yeah, we’ve played well over the past couple of weeks,” midfielder Terry Dunfield told reporters on Thursday. “It’s disappointing that we had the break and we didn’t have the games to keep the momentum going. In football, you’re judged by your results and, unfortunately for him, it’s normally the managers that take the blame.”

The results in Winter’s case were the nine league losses in a row, the worst start to a season in MLS history. He is being replaced by Paul Mariner, who was director of player development since Winter took over in January of 2011.

“Maybe it’s a little surprising that it happened right after we won the Canadian Cup and a league game and after the break,” midfielder Jeremy Hall said. “But it’s a business and you just have to move on. Maybe it could have happened earlier. We’re looking to turn this thing around. I think with the change people will feel refreshed and we can put on a run and try and get ourselves into a playoff spot.”

Added Dutch forward Nick Soolsma: “Maybe the plans were already there to change something, I can only guess. If you see the results of the whole season, then you can a little bit expect it because that’s how soccer works. He was the coach who brought me here so for me it’s a disappointment that he has to move away.”

Dunfield said he was disappointed to see Winter leave, a man he called "not only a really good manager, but he's a great person." Nonetheless, the midfielder feels the Reds have the talent do play better.

“You talk to other players and teams and they say what a talented squad that we have,” he said. “And I truly believe we have something special in the changing room and hopefully now Paul can bring it out of us.

“Paul was a fantastic player and has a history of being a good manager, so I’m sure he’ll help. It’s a little early to say but I’m sure he’ll motivate the players and he said he’ll simplify the game a little bit and if we’re the better team and we win more battles than we lose, we’ll win games.”