New Toronto FC coach Preki blasted the Toronto media on Wednesday for negativity towards his team heading into the season opener, and threatened to cut off contact with the press in the future if the trend continues.
Preki – who turned Chivas USA from league doormats to a perennial MLS playoff team from 2006-09 before joining TFC this season -- said that he’s felt negativity toward his team and its chances this season from the moment he took control.
Toronto opens the season Saturday on the road against the Columbus Crew.
“We do have a plan and we’re working and talking all the time,” Preki said. “We’re trying to get better, but the better thing for us would be if we can see the city of Toronto gather around the team. Because in the short time I’ve been here I haven’t seen too many positive things around the team.”
“It’s just a very negative setup around the city in terms of the press, the media and at some point I’m going to have to cut it off because my job is to defend these guys [and if it doesn’t improve] we’ll lose that relationship, all of us.”
But it’s not only the media that has been critical.
Callers into The Fan 590, Toronto’s all-sports radio station, have recently criticized TFC Director of Soccer Mo Johnston for not doing enough in the off-season to address the club’s deficiencies, particularly at the center back and striker positions.
While the club traded fan favourites Adrian Serioux and Carl Robinson and released offensive midfielders Amado Guevara and Pablo Vitti, it hasn’t replaced them with any recognizable names. That has left TFC fans wondering about the possibility of another non-playoff season and Toronto sports fans lamenting over the prospect of yet another subpar campaign from one of the cities’ sports teams.
Despite the outcry, Preki insisted the team has a plan and that the media and fans should get behind the team.
Toronto finished 10-11-9 last season and missed the postseason for the third straight year.
“I understand the results in the past, I fully understand that, but unless we get together and stick together as a city and an organization here we’re not going to go too far because that bridge has to be better and we have to see more positive things on the press side,” Preki said. “Obviously we want to see a better product and hopefully we’ll get that side a little bit better, and maybe we can get this [media] side a little better and we can get everyone more excited about the team.”