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Toronto FC talks of the trauma of John Carver’s departure as coach – Metro US

Toronto FC talks of the trauma of John Carver’s departure as coach

TORONTO – One day after John Carver suddenly and unexpectedly stepped down as Toronto FC coach, a partial picture emerged Sunday of a man who had just had enough.

Mo Johnston, Toronto’s managing director of soccer, was circumspect in the club’s first official pronouncements on Carver’s departure since it was announced in a seven-paragraph statement Saturday morning.

But he talked of a man who was feeling the strains of running a Major League Soccer team, who had been at odds with the league and whose health was apparently suffering as a result.

Johnston said the 44-year-old Englishman, “a little bit disillusioned,” actually handed in his resignation Thursday.

“At the end of the day, when you’re the head guy there’s a lot of pressures on your head, on your shoulders,” Johnston told a news conference after Toronto’s 1-0 win over Kansas City. “You’re taking care of 28 players. You’re looking after a coaching staff of eight, medical staff of seven. It’s a lot to do. This is a massive club.

“This is a club for me that’s going places. I always want to be part of it. I don’t feel under any pressure. Did John? Maybe. Did he feel a little bit of pressure through MLS? Maybe . . . But look, you have to hold your hand up, you have to fight through things. He wanted to go home and obviously when he signed his letter of resignation, we accepted. We tried hard, we tried everything.”

Carver has said little publicly, although he told Newcastle’s Sunday Sun in England that he had no job offer and “the people at Toronto have been fantastic to me. It is the MLS with whom I have issues.”

Johnston also said there were some health issues.

“He’d certain things and I don’t want to go into that, because that’s John’s private life,” he said.

Assistant coach Chris Cummins also alluded to Carver’s health.

“John’s a big brave lad and he’s obviously got his reasons for that (resignation). And if it starts affecting your health and things like that, then it’s the best decision for him,” he said.

Johnston said things had been “brewing” for two or three weeks.

“I think you guys have seen all the certain tendencies in terms of maybe a little bit broody, maybe a little bit not his usual self. Not the bubbly character normally he was. I felt it was getting to him. Listen I feel really bad, he’s a tremendous coach. I’ve got no doubts that he will coach again but in the near future, I’m not so sure.”

Carver, who had issues with game officials and the league before, was irate at a penalty call in a loss to Dallas last weekend. His criticism of the referee drew a league fine of US$750, a sanction that prompted him – perhaps by way of protest – to watch Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Chivas USA from the stands rather than the sidelines.

According to one source, the league then contacted him to say he would be fined unless he returned to the sidelines.

The emotional Carver had had enough.

“It was a traumatic time when John was talking to our players and our staff the other morning, because when JC came in he knew it was over,” Johnston said. “The expression he showed on his face was sadness, that’s all I can say.”

Carver was well-liked by his players, who were shocked by his sudden departure.

“As players you’re not in the backroom. And we don’t go back to his house at night and understand how he feels,” said co-captain Jim Brennan, who spoke highly of Carver. “For the most part, we thought he was all right but obviously things weren’t and he’s moved on.”

Brennan said even he was a little confused by the exact reasons for Carver’s departure.

“You know what, I don’t know. If I knew the reasons I would tell you, I’d love to know. But it’s with John, with the staff upstairs, we’ll leave it like that.”

Johnston said he planned to meet with Cummins and fellow assistant Nick Dasovic on Monday and name one of them interim coach Tuesday or Wednesday.

Cummins was listed as coach Sunday and met the media after the game before Johnston discussed the Carver situation.

Johnston said Carver asked him to shoot down rumours of a bustup with his Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and the team leaving Carver to the recent $750 fine himself.

“Absolutely not true. He just sent me a text wishing the boys all the best. ‘Great win. Fantastic. Give the coaches a hug.’

“Listen, John will go back, he’ll get refreshed, he’ll probably end up doing something in England. I wish him all the best. He’s a friend and I feel sorry it’s come this way. It’s been a traumatic week, but the guys and the coaching staff have handled it magnificently.”

Sunday’s win improved Toronto’s record to 3-2-2.

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