I guess that is the new limitation on coaches and building successful programs in the modern day. Like fifty is the new forty and forty is the new thirty, nine months is the new three seasons in managerial careers. In this world of instant gratification, entitlement and we have nothing to learn from the past this is soccer's version of "I want it all and I want it now."
Well good luck with that is all I can say. Maybe it's because I've coached that I have developed a soft spot for people who attempt to make a living from teaching and managing this game but to me the biggest mistakes that Toronto FC (and the Whitecaps and the Impact) has made in the past few seasons has been the propensity to change (coaches, direction, philosophy) more often than models on a Paris runway.
It's never been more a quick short cut to mediocrity at best and the bottom of the standings at worst in the vast majority of cases. Sure a late season change can just be enough sometimes to get you over the hump and into the play-offs or relegation safety but rarely does it result in any long term benefits or improvement to a club.
What you need to succeed in MLS, according to Whittall is simple, "“You need leadership, the ability to get the best out of the players you have at the right time, luck, and belief.”
True and add to those qualities solid if not spectacular goalkeeping, a decent backline, a solid creative midfielder, a striker that actually knows how to put the ball in the back of the goal and I almost guarantee you will succeed in any league at any level. Without these I don't care if you are General George Patton, Sir Alex Ferguson and Joan of Arc rolled into one your not winning many titles. As they say - "You need the horses."
By my count TFC had one of those qualities in personnel at the start of the season – now I’d say they have three of the four and the play since the end of July has reflected that. The addition of Torsten Frings and Danny Koervermans in the summer signing window along with the other roster changes have certainly seen a significant improvement on the result sides of things including a decent run in the CONCACAF Champions League. Perhaps more importantly than the results, at least for the future, is the improvement in the play of the vast majority of the other players on the roster including a number of young Canadians who are now knocking on the door of the Canadian national team program.
Have mistakes been made? Certainly as I'm sure Winter and his team would admit. Some trades have not paid off on the field but for the most part have paid off on the ledger which will be very important as Winter and his management team continue to make changes in preparation for 2012.
It is totally unrealistic to have expectations of turning around five years of “wandering in the wilderness” in nine months. That's just not enough time to make the moves you need to make, assess the long term viability of players and implement the philosophy of play you want your team to play.
If by the end of next season there have not been significant changes and forward progress then I think you could pass judgment on the group. But after 270 days? Surely anyone deserves more time than that to turn this creaky ship around.