Toronto FC: Enough with the #VanneyOut Tweets

ZAPOPAN, MEXICO - APRIL 25: Greg Vanney, Coach of Toronto FC gives instructions to his players during the second leg match of the final between Chivas and Toronto FC as part of CONCACAF Champions League 2018 at Akron Stadium on April 25, 2018 in Zapopan, Mexico. (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images)
ZAPOPAN, MEXICO - APRIL 25: Greg Vanney, Coach of Toronto FC gives instructions to his players during the second leg match of the final between Chivas and Toronto FC as part of CONCACAF Champions League 2018 at Akron Stadium on April 25, 2018 in Zapopan, Mexico. (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images) /

Toronto FC manager Greg Vanney has come under a ton of scrutiny just one season after claiming virtually everything the MLS has to offer.

Knee-jerk reactions happen more than people think in today’s world. A constant need for efficiency replaces something old with something new in a heartbeat, while not even taking some time to think about it, something which Toronto FC have discovered recently.

In the world of football, this is more specific to managers. Themes of loyalty and sticking to a manager are no longer valuable in the modern game. Coaches sometimes have a season or two at most to prove what they can do for a club. (Sometimes, even less.)

Toronto FC, luckily, are not in the same boat with the majority of football’s hot-seat managers. Greg Vanney has been a part of almost everything TFC-related since his arrival in 2013. As an assistant general manager at the time, Vanney, in a way, was allowed to paint his own canvas in terms of the team he would be coaching not even months later.

Ever since August of 2014, it’s been working for the Reds and Vanney himself. An MLS Cup appearance just a season after, winning everything the following year domestically, claiming the MLS Coach of the Year last season and guiding Toronto to Champions League qualification this season in a campaign that came just inches short of winning the CONCACAF.

There’s been a lot to throw on his tally sheet. Vanney has got a lot done in a short amount of time. However, recent updates with TFC would tell some the obvious; this year isn’t going so well for the club.

At the moment, the Reds occupy 10th place in the Eastern Conference table with numerous players injured for a lengthy period of time. Everything after the Champions League run has been downhill for Toronto.

This, as usual, hasn’t been sitting well for some supporters. The quick, knee-jerk reaction is to put mos/all the blame on the manager. The result has been a reoccurring hashtag on Twitter resembling what Arsenal experienced during the dying days of Arsene Wenger’s tenure.

Supporters really need to sit and think about this one before going all out on social media. First and foremost, blasting the man who has brought so much attention to Toronto over a span of a couple of seasons is simply ludicrous.

Sure, the players have a huge part in that growing attention to the club. At the same time, however, it’s all up to Vanney in terms of who to start and what formations to use; both of which he’s done a miraculous job doing.

The American-born manager has crafted the 3-5-2 standard formation into something of his own. Vanney regularly shifts players mid-game to keep pace with the flow of the fixture, while his brilliant use of full-backs and central midfielders has brought out the best with players such as Auro and Jonathan Osorio.

Vanney talked all about his passion for his winning formation with the MLS website last season:

"“One of the reasons we went to 3-5-2 is because it enabled us to get our wingbacks higher up the field faster which then would pull the fullbacks who were sitting on top of our two forwards and the center backs it would make them force them to have to respect the width of the field because our wingbacks would take higher positions,” Vanney said. “The goal of that was to bring pressure off of Seba and Jozy to get numbers off of them so that they could have a little more space to work.”"

The counter-argument to Vanney’s tactics revolve around his use of Michael Bradley at the centre-back position for over a month, combined with his planned substitutions. Both of these arguments become a bigger issue than the manager, when digging deep into the picture.

Depth is a huge problem all over the Toronto FC organization at the moment. It’s something that managers are forced to work with, when the transfers do not come in.

For example, two centre-back’s in Drew Moor and Eriq Zavaleta went down for quite some time. Vanney needed more than Nick Hagglund to stick in that position, which was very obvious after Hagglund’s very visible weariness during Toronto’s last match against NYCFC.

Taking the leap from TFC II to MLS is a big one, so Vanney elected to put trust into his skipper who plays very deep defensively anyway. Bradley has made his mistakes, but this is the hand Vanney has been forced to play. TFC elected to not sign a central defender in the past window, and no movement has been discussed in the current spending spree.

Is it fair to put all the blame on Vanney in this scenario? Even with all of these players out, including Justin Morrow and Jozy Altidore, TFC have still found ways to earn draws in fixtures that easily could have gone the other way.

The other huge danger in potentially releasing Vanney is the effect it could have on the players. A very similar case is the sacking of Claudio Ranieri from Leicester City early last year.

Ranieri helped surprise the world as the Foxes won the Premier League in 2015. Money flowed into the club while the Italian guided Leicester into the Champions League the following season. A big part of the Italian’s tenure was also winning the FIFA Coach of the Year in 2016.

All of these accolades that Ranieri collected are very similar to what Vanney has done with the Reds. The big difference was that a dip in form for Leicester was too much of a risk for the owners to potentially be sent down to the Championship, so they sacked Ranieri just one season after making football history.

The long-term implication after Ranieri’s tenure is that the Foxes would go through a Champions League quarter-final, a host of new managers and finally, a placement on the EPL table of where they should have been the whole time.

The short-term effect was the toll it took on the players in the club. Thierry Henry sums this up beautifully in probably the best analysis out there after the news about Ranieri.

It’s all settled back down with Leicester. Key players have been flirting with the idea of leaving for a long time after Ranieri left. Now, they seem to have gone back into the reality of England’s top flight. The biggest question remains; what would happen if they kept Ranieri for at least another season?

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That’s the last question the Reds and supporters alike want floating over their heads. What if’s are hard to overcome, especially in terms of a manager who has done so much for TFC while continuing to have the glowing potential to do more.

Overall, a giant step back needs to be taken. Give Vanney some space to work with. Allow some trust to flow, because Toronto FC have surely given it to the right person.

Let the season go on. Injured players should be coming back very soon and more transfers need to start pouring in. Even if the Reds miss the playoffs, supporters should know they have a manager in Vanney who knows MLS well enough to give it a go the following season.

Next: TFC allow two quick goals to continue poor month

What would you do with Vanney? Give us your thoughts on his situation as Toronto FC manager in the comments section below.