TORONTO – Michael Bradley, now recovering from a successful foot surgery, took time on Friday to address Toronto FC’s 2014 season, and his message was loud and clear: Toronto FC must improve the squad ahead of 2015.
“We need more good players, to put it simply,” Bradley said. “Guys who can come in and, in a footballing sense, add something. And the other side of it is, we need more guys with personality, more leaders, more competitors, more men. And that’s not meant as any sort of disrespect to anyone who’s here. But when you have a season that went the way ours did, we’d be naive if we didn’t think all these things needed to be better, needed to improve.”
Bradley said that there isn’t a quick-fix solution when it comes to bolstering the team. In recent days, some observers have claimed that the club needs a new No. 10 playmaking midfielder. But Bradley countered that argument and, citing Atletico Madrid’s success last season in the Spanish La Liga, pointed out that many teams manage to win without a traditional No. 10, .
This season, TFC had their best statistical year in franchise history, setting club records for wins (11) and points (41). But they missed out on a playoff spot once more after a late-season swoon that saw them close out the season with four losses and a draw in their final five matches.
“The goal here is to not just scrape through a season and maybe make the playoffs and maybe not on the last day,” Bradley said. “We want to make the playoffs, but there’s much more to it. To do that, to get to where we want to be, we need more good players and we need more winners, leaders, competitors, guys who come in every day ready to spill everything they have into it.”
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But, Bradley insisted, the team isn’t in need of a complete overhaul. It only needs a few integral players to bolster the squad, and, more important, a new attitude.
“Don't misunderstand me, in no way does this team need to be blown up,” Bradley said. “Things didn't go the way any of us hoped this year. We weren't good enough but to stand the test of time every part of what we do here has to be better. That is the tone and the mentality we have every day."
Part of that mentality, to Bradley, includes making sure everyone -- coaches, staff, etc. -- are all on the same page. The topic was apropos, given the rumors swirling of Jermain Defoe's potential departure.
"With Jermain, inside the locker room, there were never any issues,” Bradley said. “For me, he needs to decide where he is in his life, in his career and what he wants. He has to figure out what he wants from his career, his life.
“As a player I hope the best possible decision for everybody can be made and that he is focused and comfortable wherever he is."