Big challenge for Ryan Nelsen at Toronto FC
Ryan Nelsen is not deluding himself about what lies ahead in his first season as a professional football coach.
The All Whites great touched down in the United States yesterday (NZT) and has overseen his first training session as head coach of Major League Soccer side Toronto FC, who are in Orlando, Florida, preparing for a pre-season tournament.
Less than a week after playing his final match, a man-of-the-match display in Queens Park Rangers' 0-0 English Premier League draw with Manchester City, the defender was barking orders from the sideline.
After the hour-long session, the 35-year-old told the Toronto club's website there "was a lot of work to do" ahead of the first round of the MLS, in which Toronto will play fellow Canadian side Vancouver on March 2.
"You want to make as many mistakes as possible in games like this so when it really matters, hopefully they've learned from them," he said ahead of the tournament, which will see Toronto play four matches in about two weeks.
When quizzed about what style or brand of football he would bring to the club, Nelsen said: "We'd be here for days or weeks. It takes a whole pre-season to organise it."
He then elaborated. "We've got to defend to attack. Even when we don't have the ball, we want to try to score goals. When we do have the ball we'll be creative, using our strengths and weaknesses.
"It's about a number of things. As I said it takes a long, long time to get well-oiled."
Nelsen is the eighth manager of Toronto FC since they were introduced to the MLS in 2007, having been approached do assume the role by new Toronto general manager Kevin Payne, who was in charge of DC United during Nelsen's playing time in the MLS in the early-2000s.
Fans are long-suffering, with the team having finished no better than 11th in six campaigns, and there was widespread scepticism when Nelsen was unveiled last month, due to the New Zealander's lack of coaching qualifications and pedigree.