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Carver vows to tone it down
February 3, 2009, 8:32 AM
Filed under: John Carver, MLS, Toronto FC

Freshly shorn and shaved for media day at BMO Field, Toronto FC head coach John Carver is also ready to shed the wildcard reputation he earned in year one of his tenure with the team.

“You won’t get an interesting press conference from me after the game anymore,” Carver half-joked on Monday. “If we talk about football, then sure, but you’re not going to get the meaty quote out of me about officials. I have had enough.”

It took Carver just seven matches in his first MLS season to star in a league-wide DVD documenting the conduct of coaches in the technical box. The animated TFC coach could be seen pacing the sidelines on any given Saturday, barking commands, compliments and criticisms at his players. But it was this style of active-participant coaching that took the MLS by surprise and in the end cost Carver in the pocket book.

“I will still be animated on the sidelines but I am telling you now, my cards are down, you are getting an answer of ‘No comment.'”

The non-committal retort may suit some of the media members just fine as Carver clashed with the fourth estate on a few occasions in year one. A former right-hand man to Sir Bobby Robson at Newcastle United, Carver struggled to adapt to an agenda-free press corps.

“You all are different than the media and press back in England. Back in England, as a coach, I am suspicious of every one of you,” Carver explained. “I know for a fact that you all aren’t as vindictive as I think you are, and I am being perfectly honest.”

Much of the tension between the first-year coach and the media stemmed from the constant speculation over the team’s personnel decisions. Carver was always forthcoming about potential signings and team needs in his first year, an approach that often left himself and the organization scrambling for answers when nothing materialized.

“I am giving nothing away until the player is sitting next to me and we have him signed, sealed and delivered,” Carver said, punctuating the last part of the quote with a fist to the palm. “I am not going to say, ‘We’re looking at this or that,’ because if nothing materializes it becomes a huge disappointment for the fans.”

New Carver or old, the legions of TFC supporters are happy to have the coach back at BMO Field. With a rumoured move back to Newcastle United simmering on the backburner last September the BMO faithful unfurled a vote of confidence in the form of a banner which read ‘In Carver We Trust.’ The first-year coach was moved by the act and spent the winter months preparing to back up the banner.

“I have plans in my head now of what I am going to do as the season goes along,” Carver said of his new approach. “I am going to set little targets for myself and the team. (It’s something) I have never done before.”

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