Mariner’s anti-Heath shots show why he’s a liability for TFC

Paul Mariner

When you are at the head of an organization, and a candidate turns down the job offer, the drill is simple. You shake the person’s hand, wish him or her well and you move on to the next candidate.

That holds true if you’re hiring someone to drive a forklift, to take stock orders, to edit a magazine or work in the coaching staff of a Major League Soccer team.

But that’s not how Toronto FC head coach Paul Mariner reacted when he got news that Adrian Heath decided not to take the job as an assistant with the Reds, and extended his deal to coach with third-division side Orlando City, instead.

He decided to vent his anger, which was captured by’s Larry Millson (read the whole article HERE).

“As far as we were concerned, the deal had a handshake on Thursday,” Mariner told Millson. “A handshake as far as we’re concerned is a done deal, but obviously not as far as he is concerned.”
Usually, when it comes to goings-on outside the field of play, coaches don’t critcize each other. After all, if you attack the character of another member of the coaching fraternity, well you never know when you might be approaching that same person for a job down the road. It’s one thing to say that you were baffled by the opposing coach’s tactics, but it’s another to call his character into question.

And that’s what Mariner chose to do.

Even more dangerous is that Mariner has been accused of ignoring handshake deals since he became part of the TFC brain trust. Both Bas Ent and Eddy Sidra have claimed that they were promised contracts by TFC, only to have those, ahem, handshake deals not honoured in 2011, when Mariner and Aron Winter took over at the helm of the Reds. Yes, Mariner/Winter didn’t make those deals, they inherited them, but the message was clear — handshake agreements don’t mean much to us.

Those players have never made it back to the MLS level — Sidra is playing CIS soccer with the University of Alberta at the moment — but who knows how things might have changed for them had they got the shot to play in MLS, or at least some work with the TFC reserve squad?

In the case of Heath, the right thing for Mariner — or any head coach for that matter — to do was grin and bear it. Smile, wave and move on.

But, when the coach of an MLS team decides to get into a pissing match with the coach of a USL team… well that’s a PR battle the MLS team never wins.

Under Mariner’s reign, TFC has been short of results. And this whole Heath affair has shown the club is short of class, as well.

And, if a coach doesn’t have wins, he needs to at least have a sense of decorum.

FC Edmonton’s Sidra claims TFC reneged on contract offer (CLICK)

Bas Ent back as a trialist with Toronto FC (CLICK)


About Steven Sandor

I'm currently the colour commentator for FC Edmonton broadcasts on Sportsnet, and TEAM 1260. I've covered the Toronto FC beat for four years, worked for the Edmonton Aviators of the USL for a season, covered the Edmonton Drillers of the NPSL and started covering Canadian World Cup qualifiers in 1996. I've covered the CONCACAF Champions League and the U-20 World Cup. I'm passionate about soccer in North America.