TORONTO – Perhaps it is a case of strikers sticking together, but Danny Koevermans feels Toronto FC head coach Paul Mariner is the right man to turn the Reds' fortunes around next season.
“I think he’s the good man here to try to do it next season,” said the 34-year-old Dutch striker, whose season ended on July 14 with a torn ACL.
Mariner, a former England striker, took over as head coach from Aron Winter in early June when the team was 1-9-0. The Reds started out a much-improved 4-2-4 under Mariner, but finished the season on a disappointing fourteen-game winless streak, going 0-10-4.
But Koevermans feels the team improved when Mariner took over and employed a 4-4-2 formation instead of the 4-3-3 used by Winter.
“For me personally there was progress here because we did better by the formation we had,” Koevermans said Tuesday at the club’s end-of-the season media conference. “When you look at the last  games without a win you would say 'No,' but I think when Paul came in we improved and you can say because of too many injuries we couldn’t hold onto it. So I truly believe that we were better when Paul took over.”
Mariner has identified Koevermans’ injury that required season-ending surgery as the beginning of Toronto’s skid. They won only once more in the league following the injury, a 2-1 result over Colorado on July 18. Koevermans had six goals in nine league games under Mariner and nine goals in 16 league games overall.
“I’m pretty confident [Mariner’s the right coach],” Koevermans said. “He gave me the confidence I needed. He’s just a genuine guy. I like him. He’s a good coach. What you see is what you get. With his appearance on the [side]line, how he works with us, he’s basically almost in the field and he wants to kick the ball in himself."
As far as his own situation, Koevermans would not be pinned down on a possible return date next season.
“I’m just doing what I have to do and until now I think I’m according to schedule so I can do whatever I have to do and the knee is actually looking like a knee again,” he said. “The swelling has gone out. I feel good. If I’m going to say it’s going to be April or May you’re going to hang me onto that so no dates.
“I’m just training every day – also in the offseason now, so no holiday for me. Even when I go back to Holland I will be training every single day except for the weekends to come back as soon as possible. Hopefully it can be March or April but I’m not going to give a date.”