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`Laid-back’ Cummins takes over TFC’s reins
April 30, 2009, 8:16 AM
Filed under: Chris Cummins, Toronto FC

Chris Cummins, the new interim head coach of Toronto FC, says he’s not the type of guy to get too worked up about poor officiating.

“Things like that don’t bother me if I’m honest with you,” Cummins said yesterday after being named successor to John Carver, who quit last week. “I’m quite laid back.”

That certainly wasn’t the temperament of his predecessor, who tendered his resignation a few days after being fined $750 (U.S.) for publicly criticizing the officiating in Toronto’s 3-2 loss at FC Dallas on April 19.

It was one of several run-ins the 44-year-old Englishman had with Major League Soccer referees during his 15 months on the job.

While Carver said in an interview this week the “last straw” was being ordered by MLS to return to the sidelines after spending a game coaching from a private box atop BMO Field and “out of the firing line” of on-field officials, TFC general manager Mo Johnston yesterday said it was Toronto management who made the request.

“John wanted to sit upstairs, we wanted him to sit downstairs,” Johnston said after announcing the appointment of Cummins and the elevation of Canadian Nick Dasovic to be TFC’s first assistant coach.

“John had numerous things going on that had to be taken care of,” Johnston said. “That wasn’t the breaking point.”

Johnston said Carver was “disillusioned by the whole scheme of things,” including MLS, refereeing and the stress of the situation.

Johnston insisted, as has Carver, that the two men did not have a falling out and that he tried to talk the coach into staying.

“There was no going back,” Johnston said. “He didn’t let me or anyone else down. He gave everything he had and he just couldn’t go on.”

Reached by telephone yesterday afternoon as he watched the Arsenal-Manchester United Champions League game on television, Carver agreed “there was a number of issues” that led to his resignation.

When he spoke to Johnston about sitting downstairs for last Sunday’s game, Carver said he assumed it was the league making the request.

While saying a confidentiality agreement precluded him from discussing his departure any further, he did wish Cummins all the best.

“I’m delighted for him,” Carver said of the man he brought to TFC in May of last year. “It’s a great opportunity and he’s got my blessing.”

Cummins, 37, a native of Watford, England, said he’s “really excited” and promised “a team that’s going to play attacking football.”

Cummins was the main coach on the sidelines for the past two games, both 1-0 home wins. In each, TFC employed three strikers and took the game to the visitors and should have won by a wider margin.

“Every single day we’ll be working tirelessly to bring success to this club,” he said.

TFC (3-2-2) sits first in the Eastern Conference and hosts defending champion Columbus (0-2-4) on Saturday.

Johnston said although the title is interim, “I’ve told these guys: `Don’t look over your shoulder. Just keep doing the job you’re doing and let’s get on with it.’ I’m not looking at anyone else.”

Tom Anselmi, executive vice-president and chief operating officer with TFC owner Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd., said he doesn’t share Carver’s concerns the team is getting unfair treatment from MLS or its referees.

“Referees are human beings and sometimes they make a call you like and sometimes they make a call you don’t like,” Anselmi said.

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