Soccer: Canadian media perplexed by Nelsen hiring

New Toronto FC coach Ryan Nelsen has been advised by local media to rent rather than buy when he eventually moves to the city to take up his post.

Nelsen was yesterday confirmed as the new man in charge of the Major League Soccer side, though it remains unclear when he will commence his coaching career.

The All Whites captain is under contract at English Premier League side Queens Park Rangers until the end of the season and that fact, combined with Nelsen's lack of experience, invoked the ire of the Canadian media.

An editorial for the Toronto Star wished Nelsen well at the troubled franchise but provided a warning about just how tenuous his job security may be.

"At this point, we will say to Nelsen what we say to every new coach through the perpetually spinning turnstiles at this club: All the very best of luck; and probably best to rent for a while."

Nelsen will be Toronto's eighth head coach in just seven years since their inception, while the club went 14 games without a win to finish last season with a league-worst record of five wins from 34 games.

It is a sticky situation for any coach to walk into, let alone one without prior management experience, and the Toronto Star was unequivocal in their opinion of the appointment.

"Even by Toronto FC standards, it's a jaw-dropper," wrote sports reporter Daniel Girard. "There's just a couple of catches. The New Zealand native has no formal coaches training and has never walked the touchline.

"Also, he'll continue playing for Queens Park Rangers in the English Premiership, meaning he's going to miss the draft, in which the club picks first and third, training camp and MLS games, perhaps until the season ends overseas in mid-May."

In the same paper columnist Cathal Kelly wrote that Nelsen's inexperience shouldn't count against him, considering the records of his well-travelled predecessors.

"Nelsen differs from the [prior coaches] in terms of resume - in the sense that he doesn't have one. He's never coached before at any level. That's not an issue. Toronto FC has tried all sorts of experience. At this point, innocence is worth a try."

The Globe and Mail took a similar tact to Nelsen's hiring, with Paul Attfield writing the most flawed franchise in MLS will struggle to end their six-year playoff drought with the 35-year-old at the helm.

"[Toronto] didn't replace [former coach Paul Mariner] with another head coach though; in fact, it didn't replace him with a coach of any kind."

Jason de Vos, an analyst for Canadian television station The Sports Network, was even more nonplussed about Toronto's move, labelling the decision "without a doubt, the most bizarre coaching appointment ever made in Major League Soccer".

- APNZ

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