If it's good enough for Inter Milan, it's perfectly acceptable for Toronto FC.
The standard of play might be oceans apart, but the philosophy is identical. Keep your opponent at arm's length for as long as possible, and ensure adequate cover is available when necessary.
I don't believe Jose Mourinho or Preki are "defence-minded" coaches. I absolutely do believe they are responsible coaches who know the bolt on the back door must be solidly attached. Only from that base can their respective teams move forward with pace and purpose.
It is not by chance that, after Saturday's 1-0 win over New England
, Toronto FC has now played four and a half games without conceding a single goal. It is true Preki's team rode its luck, on occasion, against Los Angeles and New England, while neither Montreal nor Vancouver showed enough quality up front to break through.
The Galaxy and the Revs have always been two of the stronger Major League Soccer franchises. They are well run, well managed organizations that expect, at a minimum, to reach the end-of-season playoffs on an annual basis. Toronto FC, still an MLS infant, is now equipped to provide competition.
Two things concerned me after meeting Preki on Saturday morning. He would not have centre-back Nana Attakora due to injury but his team would have to deal with the shocking return of Revs playmaker Shalrie Joseph. Nick Garcia's name reappeared on the team sheet.
The coach had no choice. A combination of injury, suspension and international calls left him with just 16 players. Preki couldn't even fill the bench but resolved the make the best of what he had. He gave Garcia the captain's armband and the responsibility of leadership.
Garcia did not let his coach down. The veteran defender, who has taken enormous amounts of criticism for his error-prone play, responded with his best performance of the season. This has nothing to do with individual ability and everything to do with man management.
Six weeks previously, Garcia had been one of the main culprits for the second-half meltdown in New England. Why the turnaround? Simple: Preki made him feel valuable and important. Garcia, as captain, was focused and determined and despite his size it proved to be a day on which he walked tall.
If, as the coach suggested later, it was an "ugly" win, I, as an observer, would take it every week. Each and every player now understands he must work hard for the duration to defend his individual territory. Mistakes will still happen, but there is now an appetite to right the wrongs.
Sanyang catches the eye
The decisive goal, when it finally arrived, was laced with desire. Chad Barrett, having missed easier chances in the first half, was absolutely determined to be first to Sam Cronin's corner. His pure energy got him half a step ahead of Pat Phelan from where the execution was clinical.
Amadou Sanyang, again, caught the eye with another mature outing. The 18-year-old Gambian was thrust into the midst of a battle he wasn't expecting. The return of Joseph clearly lifted the visitors, but Sanyang ensured the MLS All Star didn't dominate midfield as he does so often.
Martin Saric added to the muscle in the middle but his game is still overly physical. A fourth yellow card in nine appearances means he's on the brink of suspension. One more caution will earn a ban which is of no use to his coach or teammates.
I've still got a question mark against Raivis Hscanovics. The Latvian defender has made an uncertain start in MLS and is becoming a weak link at the back. I believe he has ability, but his decision-making leaves a lot to be desired. Is Jim Brennan still retired?
Overall, with the stars missing and a lot of games in a short space of time, this can be considered another notch on the belt. There's nothing like a win to boost confidence and worry the heck out of future visitors. The Kansas City Wizards won't fancy their chances in a fortnight.
Call it chemistry if you like. But the chemistry only works if everyone is committed to the cause on a daily basis. Preki and his staff are demanding the same effort in training as they are on match days. Little by little his team is, indeed, becoming hard to beat.
Jose Mourinho can walk into any job he chooses. He has the soccer world at his feet. Preki doesn't enjoy those privileges, but he shares one thing in common with the Special One. He commands respect from his players and when you have that, you have a chance.
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