Coach Cummins leaves sour TFC squad

Chris Cummins wants to take care of business at home instead of on the pitch.

That’s why the interim coach for Toronto FC turned down an offer to return as an assistant next season.

He wanted to return home earlier because of family difficulties in the United Kingdom, but chose to stay until the end of the year.

“I was given a contract to the end of the year and I nearly lost my wife because she kept telling me to come home,” Cummins told reporters at a press conference.

“But I’m a man of my word and when I say I’m going to do something, I honour my contract.”

Cummins, who is returning home to be with his wife and five kids, was given the interim tag at the end of April when John Carver stepped down because of issues with the MLS.

TFC went 8-9-7 with Cummins as coach.

They ended the season with a dreadful 5-0 loss against the New York Red Bulls on Oct. 24 in a game that could have given Toronto their first playoff appearance in franchise history with a win, combined with losses from other teams.

Director of soccer Mo Johnston said the team’s down fall can’t be blamed solely on Saturday’s loss.

“It wasn’t just about Saturday,” he said. “We’ve lost numerous points late in games and it probably just wasn’t good enough to be honest with you.”

Tension in the locker room followed when midfielder Dwayne De Rosario said some of his teammates lack heart, and rookie midfielder Sam Cronin criticized the team’s mentality.

Cummins, a second year member of TFC’s coaching staff, said there were some “bad apples” in the dressing room and complained of “backstabbing” behind the scenes.

“Every dressing room has poor characters,” Cummins said. “Maybe on that side of it, I’d deal with certain people a different way.

“What I didn’t like was at times people putting the knife in, people backstabbing and talking about people. We’re all in this together.”

Cummins had a message for his players, some of whom he had harsh words for.

“I just said to them there, ‘Listen lads, I do wish 95 per cent of you all the very best and I hope you go on and do well, and you know who you are.

The other five per cent of you, I couldn’t care if I don’t see you again to be honest with you,” he said.

“There’s a lot of good young players in there and they have to look at the experienced pros and learn from them. If there are certain pros in there that they think aren’t right, don’t learn from that.”

Johnston, the team’s first coach, will now search for Toronto’s fourth manager in as many seasons.

He agreed to a 2½ year contract extension in August that is still awaiting approval, but the pressure is on him to find a leader who can guide the team to the playoffs next year.

“Obviously not making the playoffs for three years, absolutely, 100 per cent it stops with me,” Johnston said.

“I guess if it happens in the fourth year, yes of course I won’t be here. It’s as simple as that. Look, I’m a big boy, I’ll take it on the chin, I know what’s expected and I’ll move on.”