You’re the real MVP.
That famous line spoken by Kevin Durant, directed to his mother, as he accepted his NBA MVP award will always be remembered as one of the most heart-warming moments shared by an athlete. In Kevin’s case, and most cases, there are loved ones and others, who create a support system around an athlete which allows for them to succeed at the highest level. Many do it because they love the person. Some do it opportunistically. Others do it because it is their job.
There are many good things happening in TFC land right now. This didn’t just appear out of nowhere like found money in between the couch cushions. It has been a slow build. One which has been carefully planned and focused, unlike the previous incarnations of the franchise. Investments like pitch upgrades, stadium renovations, and The KIA Training Ground have been crucial. They have elevated the club to lofty standards. Then there is the personnel. From administrators, coaches, physicians, players, and everyone that encircles them. There is a culture that is bought into from the top down. So many people doing fantastic work. TFC is now a great place to be, instead of being the place to avoid.
Players want to play in an environment where they know they’re going to be successful. Especially good ones. They want to be surrounded by people who are as talented as themselves. But with all this talent can come ego. This is part of what makes them who they are. Managing all of this can be difficult at times.
Don’t get me wrong. If you don’t have the quality on the pitch you are going to be limited in what you can achieve. You might have success in small samples but that is it. Great players will take you to where you want to be, and as a result, will receive the accolades.
There are many MVP candidates on TFC – Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and Victor Vazquez come to mind. All of them provide MVP attributes in their own way. You could make an argument that if one of them were to be missing from the lineup, TFC wouldn’t be the same. Keeping this group in sync takes an MVP of a different kind.
Greg Vanney has done a masterful job thus far of managing his MVPs. He handles player minutes with care. Segments of TFC’s schedule have come hard and heavy and they have walked away with results almost every time. His substitutions have been bang on. He has inserted the right players at critical moments in order to change matches, and those players have rewarded him in full. Young players have been introduced into the first team and produced. Vanney has given them opportunities and they are now valuable depth pieces as The Reds battle on multiple fronts. He has also shown his flexibility within games. TFC can easily switch formations between 3-5-2 and 4-4-2 depending on the situation. Vanney has also massaged personalities to the point where nothing becomes a distraction. Potential powder kegs have been dealt with quickly, unlike regimes of the past, which would have allowed the kettle to boil over.
Vanney has become better at his job every year, and as a result, so has the team. He is a purveyor of the culture that is Toronto FC – professional, mentally strong, and results oriented. No longer are fans questioning his decisions, because his decisions, have answered questions.
Clubs around the globe now view TFC as a growing powerhouse, as opposed to the worst team in the world. These giants constantly check in on the availability of TFC’s talent – the MVPs, if you will. Soon they might be checking in on a MVP of a different kind.
By William Jamieson