Toronto FC announced Thursday that effective immediately Aron Winter has stepped down from his role as Head Coach and Technical Director. Toronto FC’s Director of Player Development Paul Mariner will take over as the club’s Head Coach and Director of Soccer Operations.
Assistant Coaches Jason Bent and Jim Brennan, Goalkeeper Coach Stewart Kerr, Technical Manager Bob de Klerk and Academy Director Thomas Rongen will remain in their current capacities with the club.
“This was a very difficult decision for both of us, but one that I believe is necessary given our team’s regular season results,” said Tom Anselmi, executive vice-president and chief operating officer for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. “Our fans have been very patient and we gave Aron every opportunity to turn things around, but it came to a point where a change needed to be made.
“Anyone who has met or spent time with Aron during his tenure with our club will agree that he’s as classy a person as you will meet in the world of professional sports. He leaves our club having made an indelible mark. I’m confident in Paul’s abilities and skills to lead our team out of our current position and through the rest of the season. The fact that he has been part of our management team will make this transition an easy one for the club, and most importantly our players.”
Video: Mariner on taking charge of TFC.
Winter was offered a technical role with the club and the opportunity to continue his work building the team’s Academy program. After some discussion, Winter decided to pursue other opportunities.
Mariner, 59, was hired as Toronto FC’s Director of Player Development on January 6, 2011. Prior to joining Toronto, he took over the struggling Plymouth Argyle of England’s Championship Division from December 2009 to May 2010.
From 2004 to 2009, Mariner was a member of the New England Revolution coaching staff. During that period the Revs compiled a record of 74 wins, 57 losses and 53 draws. The club made three straight MLS Cup Final appearances between 2005 and 2007. The Revs also won the 2007 US Open Cup and the 2008 SuperLiga titles.
“I believe our team is better than its record shows, and that we can achieve success throughout the remainder of the season,” said Mariner. “I’m looking forward to the challenge and turning things around on the pitch as soon as possible.”
Mariner’s playing career began with Plymouth Argyle in 1973 and he went on to play more than 130 games. Sir Bobby Robson signed Mariner at Ipswich Town ahead of the 1976-1977 season and he stayed there until 1984, scoring 96 goals in 260 games. He was named Man of the Match in the 1978 FA Cup Final as Ipswich beat Arsenal 1-0. Mariner played a key role in Ipswich Town’s UEFA Cup winning squad during the 1980-1981 season. Mariner moved to Arsenal in 1984 where he spent two seasons before finishing his time in England with two years at Portsmouth. He retired as a player in 1993. Mariner was part of England’s 1980 European Championship squad and earned 35 caps for the Three Lions during his career.
Winter, 45, was hired as head coach and technical director in January 2011. In 44 Major League Soccer (MLS) matches, he compiled a record of seven wins, 22 losses and 15 draws. In non-league play he led Toronto FC to a record of 11 wins, three losses, and six draws, for an overall record of 18 wins, 25 losses and 21 draws in all competitions. He also guided Toronto FC to two Canadian Championship titles and advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals in March for the first time in club history.
Mariner’s first game as head coach will be Saturday, June 16 when Toronto travel to face Sporting KC in Kansas City. Toronto FC’s next home game is Saturday, June 23 against the New England Revolution. Kick-off is at 4:30 p.m.