Former Toronto FC forward Ali Gerba didn’t mince words when facing the cameras in a Canadian interview released Monday, criticizing TFC coach Preki, blasting the team’s postseason aspirations and claiming the club treated him like he “was a rapist.”
The interview makes up a lengthy and in-depth 17-minute segment with Kristian Jack of The Footy Show on The Score in Canada. In the piece, Gerba addressed his departure from Toronto FC and his feelings about the individuals he felt responsible for his exit, most notably Preki and general manager Mo Johnston.
“I’m still waiting for the explanation myself,” Gerba told The Score. “I don’t know what happened … They told me I’m not part of the plans. And Preki put me on the next plane to go home at 5 a.m. in the morning. Until today I never got any explanation of the reason why. I don’t even think that [Preki] knows the reason why.”
Johnston told the press he sent Gerba home from TFC’s training camp in Charleston, S.C., on March 16 because the Cameroon-born Canadian international’s play was “not up to scratch.” TFC and Gerba reached an agreement to have his contract terminated on April 5.
Gerba fired back at Johnston on Monday, stating that the man in TFC’s top personnel post “doesn’t have the high standard the organization is looking for.”
“I think since he’s been here he’s been making more than bad decisions of where the club should be,” Gerba said. “Sometimes you have to look at yourself and judge yourself the same way you judge other people. It’s time to let somebody else to make the right decisions. The club didn’t make the playoffs after four years. Personally I don’t think it’s going to be close. Vancouver and Montreal have a better chance to make the playoffs than Toronto do.”
Gerba also blasted new TFC coach Preki in the interview, saying that he has “a lot of doubt that he’s the guy to bring the team.”
“Everything can work his way, but since I’ve been there, tactically I don’t think he’s brought anything for the guys yet,” Gerba said. “We did three months of preseason and the result speaks for itself.”
Gerba added that former captain Jim Brennan -- who retired on April 7 to become Johnston’s assistant -- was one of a number of players who were unhappy during preseason, and that he felt the team’s morale suffered from a lack of respect showed to the players.
As for himself, Gerba admitted he felt he had been disrespected by the club since his departure.
“The people at the office are still wondering what happened to me,” Gerba said. “They’re treating me like, I don’t know, if I was a rapist or some bad influence in the dressing room. The people who know me know that I don’t raise my voice or have a bad effect on the dressing room.”
Toronto FC did not return email or phone calls from MLSsoccer.com seeking comment on the Gerba interview on Monday.
Gerba, 27, joined the team last June after he was released by English club Milton Keynes Dons. But since his arrival in Toronto, his fitness and production were frequently called into question, and he scored just one goal in 11 games in 2009.
He was eventually supplanted in the starting lineup by rookie O’Brian White, who has started two of the team’s four games this season.
For now, Gerba said he will wait to see what playing opportunities arise. He said he would play professionally in Montreal and might even head back to Europe, or he could return to TFC upon the possible end of tenure for the men who let him go.
“I think people are smart enough that they’re going to see the fraud sooner or later,” Gerba said.