Toronto FC head coach Bob Bradley accuses Federico Bernardeschi of stepping ‘out of line’
Toronto FC are in dire straits on the pitch, and things aren’t too different off it.
Days after TFC’s leading star Federico Bernardeschi very publicly voiced his frustrations with the Reds’ tactics and performances after they conceded a stoppage-time goal to lose in Austin, head coach Bob Bradley has called the 29-year-old “out of line” and “wrong.”
Bernardeschi said Saturday after TFC slipped to their fifth loss in 14 regular season games that “we need to change something, we need more tactics, we need an idea of how we play.
“This is the real problem for me, it’s impossible to play like this… we don’t have any ideas of how to play…” added the Italian, who was substituted with 25 minutes of the Austin game remaining and the score at 0-0. “I think this team, this city, the fans, everybody doesn’t deserve this… I’m really proud of the team and about every player because it’s difficult to play like this… For me, we need something different.”
Though he never explicitly stated this was the case, Bernardeschi’s quotes have been interpreted by many in the last 72 hours — Waking The Red followers among them — as a call for a change in coaching at BMO Field.
Bradley is not impressed.
“Fede was wrong for speaking that way after the game,” Bradley told Neil Davidson of The Canadian Press.. “It was a tough loss, a late goal after we had defended in a really good way. So he was wrong to speak that way after the game, 100 per cent. And we’ve now discussed it inside the team. [I] made it clear that that was out of line.”
Asked about Bernardeschi’s specific criticism of his tactics, the three-time MLS coach of the year added: “In football, people have different ideas. Not everybody sees the game the same way.”
Davidson notes that when asked if the off-pitch debacle was water under the bridge, Bradley deflected somewhat. “There’s a lot of work being done. The work every day in a tough period continues. So that’s where we are,” he said, a non-answer to a direct question.
Bernardeschi’s comments have set social media and #TFCLive ablaze in recent days, sparking a wave of partisan declarations in favour of either Bradley or (more frequently) the Italian playmaker. The furore hasn’t been helped by the fact TFC removed the video of Bernardeschi’s post-game press conference from their site after the fact, something which saw the club accused by some fans on social media of quasi-censorship.
Bradley has reiterated that he understands fans’ frustrations and that TFC will find a way to work through a difficult period.
“Look, I understand the frustration that exists, with the players, with the fans,” Bradley said, per Davidson. “And, as I keep saying, in a real way, I take the responsibility every day to think through with the staff the best way to message, the best way to then put training together, the best idea on how we need to play. So when I keep saying that’s the work, that’s what’s going on every day.”
Still, the truth is that TFC are rotten on the field right now and appear to be rotting off it. Two wins in 14 games in all competitions in 2023. 404 minutes without scoring, dating back to CJ Sapong’s winner against New York City FC on April 29, 25 days ago.
The stats make for grim reading, and the ominous fog around this team is thickening by the week.
There are mitigating circumstances, of course. There are the terrible injury problems, with 10 first-team players missing in Austin. There’s the fact a raft of new players still need to gel, an opportunity they have been denied in many cases by said injury problems. The eternally injured Lorenzo Insigne and Bernardeschi, the latter of whom has been forced to carry much of the creative burden with his compatriot absent, have failed to deliver to the extent that Bradley and MLSE will have been hoping for.
Bradley, for his part, admitted that part of the work he needs to do is to work out how to get the best out of the Italian duo. Having them both on the pitch at once would be a start, you’d say.
Incidentally, he also categorically denied speculation that he and Insigne do not see eye-to-eye, or the suggestion the former Napoli man had refused to play against Austin. “That is 100 per cent false,” Bradley insisted, adding that it was a fitness problem that kept him out.
Bradley is not one to suffer fools gladly, but his hard-nosed retort to Bernardeschi’s comments likely will not go down well given that most onlookers of a TFC persuasion seem to lean in favour of the Italian rather than the American.
Football matches are won on the pitch, but much of the battle for fans’ affection is won in the court of public opinion. It’s been a bad few months, but it’s been a really bad couple of weeks. With each week that passes, the mood turns sourer.
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The only thing “wrong” and “out of line” is this fraud is still employed at tfc. 3 interesting names came up today pirlo, van nistelroy and spaletti all out (spaletti not officially yet but most likely by the weekend) all there light years better than bob. Their phones should be ringing right now and someone from tfc should be on the other side saying are u interested in coming here and how much u want. Tata available as well. If MLSE actually care about the fans (doubtful) they will make the move, if not empty seats are coming.
None of Pirlo, Van Nistlerooy, Spaletti or Martino (Tata) are coming to TFC…none.
Not for any amount of $$$.
Not because they would not do a better job, but MLS is second/third tier for them. There will be more than enough other jobs for them in Europe to ignore the MLS/TFC.
Not even for any amount of $$$. Sorry not happening.
Tata has already been in the MLS and said he would come back in a public interview.
If the MLS wanted not just good coaches but big name coaches here, they could get them asap. They’d just rather spend the money on players. Most of the coaches of every Top 5 European league make less than what a lot of the MLS’ DPs are paid.
Everyone’s talking about De Zerbi this year. He’s only making a few million at Brighton and probably made less when he was at Shakhtar. Even someone like a Xabi Alonso. He was coaching a B team before going to Leverkusen. You’re telling me the MLS couldn’t have tempted him with a nice offer to come here while he was coaching a B team? Is the MLS and fat cheque really worse than coaching a B team?
Perhaps Martino (Tata) would come back to the MLS. However, when at Atlanta, his role was Head Coach which he did very well. However, in TFC’s case, it would mean then also finding a new Sporting Director (can’t image BB keeping that part) and a new President (I imagine Manning gets let go too). So it is not just one position having to hire for it is three in TFC’s case (in all likelihood). And the order would be President who would hire the Sporting Director and then likely together they hire the Manager (Head Coach). This would all need to be planned out by Senior executives at MLSE, which will require a little more time to do but necessary.
As for top 5 Euro coaches coming to MLS/TFC, remember that this must be looked at through the lens of the Euro Coach not the lens of a North American (Canadian) hoping for a Euro Coach. Managing a ‘B’ squad in Europe is far more attractive than an MLS position no matter the $$$ available. Through the eyes of a Euro, there are so many reason to stay in Europe (even a lesser clubs), such as the culture of football, the playing calendar, the European cup competitions, the academy set-up, etc.,etc. The MLS structure, set up, rules, etc. are easier for us North Americans to understand/accept as they are a part of the culture but to any Euro top coach it is all ‘bush league’ stuff.
“Most of the coaches of every Top 5 European league make less than what a lot of the MLS’ DPs are paid.”
If that is a truth, then it is more proof than anything that yes, coaching in Europe (even B squad opportunities), is better than managing/coaching in the MLS. You don’t think that the ego-maniacs in MLS front office have not rang up top Euro managers and offered a boat load of money already?
Sorry, but anyone who has spent some meaningful time in a Euro football culture can relate to what the Euro coach would be missing in MLS reality.
They absolutely could get good coaches here if they paid them. Coaches do nothing for the notoriety & money making for the league, that’s why the MLS invests in players instead. It’s never been their model to go and get serious coaches.
No one back in 2010 would have gone to LA Galaxy games if Beckham wasn’t there but Carlo Ancelotti was and I’m not saying Ancelotti would have come, I’m just giving a high profile example.
Look at other leagues that are like the MLS and trying to build. Saudi Arabia, for example. You’re telling me the MLS couldn’t have got Nuno Espírito Santo? Guaranteed they never made an offer but they definitely tried to negotiate with Ronaldo before he went there. Why? Ronaldo gets asses in seats, Ronaldo brings eyes. Nuno doesn’t.
Even going back to Xabi Alonso example. I don’t see how coaching a mid table B team is more exciting of an option than getting paid like 7 million a year and going to coach LA Galaxy for like 3 years.
Even Xavi when he coached in Qatar. Why didn’t go back and coach the Barca B team? You would agree that coaching Barca’s youth team is better than coaching a Qatari team, yes? Well, why didn’t he then? Because of the money dude. Excluding the Pep’s & Zidane’s of the world, who can still go a manage the best of the best, if you pay these guys they’ll come.
I believe I heard the commenters in the game say that Bob Bradley has a guaranteed 4-year contract.
It does not matter how long his contract is all MLSE has to do is pay him out for the remainder of his term and release him. Hell they can even ask him to stay home cause as long as they are paying him based on his contract then they can ask him to do anything they like.
Although I do not disagree with what Bernardeschi is saying, I do disagree with his choice to publicly put it out there. I understand the emotional toll losing and poor performances have on players, but it is unacceptable to speak as such as Berne did post match. That is talk that Berne has to have directly with the manager, in private, a day or so after the game. Not in a press conference straight after a difficult loss.
Imagine if Bradley came out and publicly scrutinized a player (directly or i directly as Berne did). Imagine the frenzy around the fanbase towards Bradley of he did that. Heck, the hate toward Bradley is higher than ever and yet he has not gone and out the blame on the players in public media. Bradley might not be getting on the field right but at least he is not publicly ripping his players up.
Berne needs to do better.
Guess what TL Bob did scrutinize a player! He blamed Poz on a goal last year in a post game interview, when in fact it was his son Mike who was to blame for the goal. There were many post mentioning this on the site . Some of our candy ass journos covering this team need to ask him what the thinking was in signing Diomonde, Sapong, Akinola, VV, trading 1 million in Gam and giving MAK 750k. We will see if Mr “tough guy” Bob Bradley benches Fede on Saturday.
Bernardeschi has standards, at least we know that now. At least we know he has his head screwed on right and sees the exact same bullshit that we see.
We are one step closer to Bob and potentially others getting fired because of his interview. Big props to Federico for having some actual balls.
He basically almost did what Altidore did to Armas (called out the coach except in Altidore’s case it was not through the media).
Based on what we have seen both Armas and Bradley have simply not managed to get the players performing. I will give Bradley credit for improving our defence (but Sean Johnson is also a big part of that improvement).
However with the talent and money we have spent upfront, averaging one goal/game is abysmal!
In this situation you don’t say he was out of line. The correct move, to find a working relationship, is to say you have to work with players better to create common ground and forward progress they own.
Bob has just drawn a line in the sand saying someone else has feelings that are invalid. This isn’t 1980 and the comments by Bob show why he is disconnected from current players that are not his son. The team is losing, not scoring, failing late in games, thats Bob’s roster that he signed, trained and put on the starters sheet. If the only suggestion for Fede is to be like Mo or Carlos then Bob is out of ideas for Fede based on what he brings.
If the coach and players were working together on shared tactics their post game reflections would start with their group approach, not focussed on “other” the way Fede referred to the team playing without purpose. Everything fans have seen and commented on was reflected in what Fede said post game, are we all out of line, as ticket and merch buyers?
I can’t believe MLSE allowed that Bob outburst in team social media. If this is part of letting him hang himself then I’d appreciate if they didn’t share that with us, I’d like a bit of dialogue around how the team is working to integrate new kids, reintroduce injured vets, engage fans.
How about an analytical article about how TFC has managed 5 clean sheets this pitiful season. What has changed in players, tactics, etc.? We need to get our focus off the slow death of a coaching career that further tarnishes an iconic captains career each week.
With regard to your comment about MLSE allowing Bob to post this on team social media: when I initially read the statement my very first thought was MLSE are continuing to back Bradley. So I guess his job is safe for a while.
I personally don’t see a path to success after losing the support of his two DPs.
The thought of MLSE backing him now is something I really can’t accept intellectually. They can’t be that stupid in a market like Toronto with so many knowledgable fans and ex players.
My thoughts about why Bob has so little positive impact here, compared to some modest success earlier in his career, is that he lacks motivation to adapt and learn. But the press today ignoring the feelings of his best player makes it clear, he is an insecure egomaniac.
He is actually destroying his sons legacy at a time when people have been talking about building him a statue, Bob is so tone deaf. The part about being a fraud is no longer the main problem.
I totally agree that Bob has to go and he is killing this team. But it would be unfair for his son to have a tarnished legacy as a result of his father. Michael is a player and not the one responsible for the decisions Bob makes.
I still believe that Michael wants to win and leave on top. But his father simply isn’t helping things.
Bob Bradley is a stain on this club everyday he remains he disgraces himself even more. Benteke is going to have a field day on our defence on Saturday night and the boos for Bradley will hopefully be even louder than last week. RESIGN NOW
Our arrogant coach just doesn’t like to be called out by anyone, this imbecile actually believes he is a great coach in his little mind. Good on Berna, well said son.
He is a completely delusional old man, he has completely lost the plot and should be placed in a retirement home.
TFC’s 2023 season is already done. My family members and I attended many losing games over many seasons before Coach Greg Vanney arrived. Bob Bradley is no Greg Vanney. It is time that both Bradleys depart. I hope that it will not take another decade to right the ship again. All for one!
Someone had to say it.
And he’s the right one given his pedigree, his salary, his stature on the club as the far-and-away best player, and his overwhelmingly positive attitude thus far.
Bob straight up contradicts Bernardeschi by mentioning how they are working hard every day on their tactics. So one of them is lying/twisting the truth.
Between them I pick the star player. Coaches/GMs are a lot easier to replace. And the younger Bradley can go along with Dad.
I should add – the star player vs coach conundrum is assuming we even wanted to keep Bob. Since he has proven to be useless there’s no point in even thinking about it. Delaying his inevitable firing so he can continue his media battle with his best player is probably not in ML$E’s best interest.
This isn’t 1975. Pro sports don’t operate like the military any more. Star players have rightfully leveraged their rare skills into significant say into all aspects of professional sports, and their opinions and public statements on the state of the team must be respected.
Really tough choice here….I’m really racking my brain over this one.
On one side we have TFC’s leading goal scorer since he arrived and arguably the team’s best player. On the other side we have a coach that got knocked out of a cup competition two years in a row and who has less then a 30% win record.
I DON’T KNOW WHICH ONE TO SUPPORT, IT’S SUCH A HARD CHOICE
5 points on TFC:
1) Bob Bradley was born into a military family. His “out of line” comment on Fede’s perceived insubordination should be interpreted, in part, in light of that context.
2) Fede was not frustrated about ‘tactics’ when he was scoring goals for TFC earlier this season.
3) Insigne is not Giovinco. Seba had something to prove when he arrived at TFC; Lorenzo has little to prove, (notwithstanding his astronomical salary) – and it shows.
4) The MLSE board is far more likely to sack President Bill Manning and Manager/Sporting Director Bob Bradley simultaneously, before Manning ever sacks Bradley.
5) All MLS teams suffer injuries, at varying points in the season, but not all MLS teams lack the depth of quality in their roster to contend with said injuries.
1) he’s not in the military and as a guy who has coached in Norway should know that usa military wouldn’t fly with Canadians never mind Europeans. So that’s bad judgment on his part.
2) fede is at least partly frustrated with tactics because the moron still has 3 playing up top and had berna and insigne too far on the wing when they should be up top on a 4 4 2 so it is tactics and bob has none
3) I still think Insigne will do well with a coach who isn’t a complete moron. This is not on insigne
4) you are probably correct having said that someone has to pull the plug as this is beyond a joke now
5) I mentioned this before at least part of the reason we have so many injuries is that bob was playing 30 somethings over and over and over again game after game 90 minutes without properly subbing, anyone with common sense knew a rash of injuries will be coming, Bob’s lack of subbing is the worst I seen in world football this year. As for depth he brought in diomande whose been injured the last 3 years on multiple clubs, he thought peruzza and akinola should be on this squad he tried to play shaffleburg out of position causing to fail while he looks much better in Nashville in a more forward position, meaning he was bound to fail here (similar thing is happening with JMR) BOB did this to himself he deserves all the criticism he gets if not more.
Bottom line is this is Bob’s disaster and the people who hired him no one else.
“…a late goal after we had defended in a really good way.” Two shots in the woods in less than 20 minutes and countless missed opportunities in our goal is a really good way of defending????? It was only the good luck that ran out in extra time. The guy has stone face.
The only ‘argument’ that MLSE will listen to is to the number of empty seats at the stadium in the coming matches. Profitability is their sole modus operandi. Their interest in promoting soccer here is zilch.
The term “damage control” appears to be lost on MLSE.
As a coach, part of your job is to man-manage the squad. If you lose the room, as well as the support of your most best player both on and off the pitch, then you aren’t doing your job.
In the real world, that usually results in dismissal.
My God! No other sport organization would keep a coach who also is incharge of the roster after all the losing with no plan AND you get called out by your best player. NEVER! Oh wait TFC did.
:)) after the chain of comments at the previous article, this article seems to be bait as it is a trigger for us.
I think it was a lame attempt to gain control and impose respect. The DPs are caliber players that have seen and worked with better coaches. You would earn their respect by winning. That is not the case.
Maybe he already had the talks with BB or with upper brass at the end of last season and he was promised things will change. The new season started and nothing really changed so maybe this outburst is him calling bullshit for someone behind the scenes. When he complained about the lacks of tactics he didn’t stutter as it was due to injuries.
I see a recurring theme, the games with clean sheets. It goes well with BB’s comment about the late conceding vs. Austin where he believes that the defense was top notch – the clean sheets did not necessarily show a robust defense but a combination of defense and luck. And there is no real focus and quality D on most of the the goals conceded, where a good defense would have prevented those. Should I mention Macnaughton’s own goal against Philadelphia? That was noob precipitation under pressure.
I think we will get our conclusions on Saturday, Wednesday the latest.
I’m stunned by the number of people that think Fede made the comments out of the blue. As if he hasn’t expressed the concerns of limited/inadequate prep since last year.
We also know he is an extrovert, chatty, popular, in the centre of things, so he didn’t say the public comments without first trying to influence team training and play internally. These public comments have come up because he and Insigne tried to influence practice and game prep as Michael has been away and dialogue more free. Bob is pushing back and punishing them, playing Fede out of position, forcing him to play roles he knows will fail. Then subbing him after an hour of mocking him and saying it was because of his tummy. Bob is the issue!
The smokescreen comments about Insigne being hurt, about Fede having an upset stomach, about Bob not being replaceable because he does too many jobs; you can’t teach tactics if you have injuries, you can’t have effective tactics if players aren’t at the DP level. That is all buying into team talking points.
Bob hired these players, he spent the money in the way he did, he knew the limitations and restrictions. You can’t say he is experienced, proven or of value if his experience in the league doesn’t allow him to use the structure to win. That literally negates the experience as he uses structure to excuse failure.
Well said….people need to be weary of some of the podcasts out there ( seen a bit of one today got sick to my stomach watching it ) they are trying to imply bradley may not be completely at fault here or blaming injuries (when he should be at least partially responsible for that too with his ridiculous subbing early in season) bob is an ego maniac and this isn’t just at tfc he under achieved at lafc they won a title as soon as he left and they are also in a concacef league finals all they could never do with him. He actually under achieved with the usa national team too as that was a really good there is an article in athletic in 09 about how poor he was there too, then we got his 12 game run at Swansea where everyone in England knew he isn’t a top flight coach in any league above the Norwegian he’s a fraud and ego maniac thru and thru…there is no putting lipstick on this pig… this is why I knew this hire wouldnt work from day 1.FIRE HIM ALREADY and if his NJ buddy won’t do it fire him too enough is enough.
Love your comments Mrppv we have very similar thoughts when it comes to this team, keep it up. Yes I too find the podcasts out there to be rubbish but these guys have skin in the game, I mean how can someone who needs his TFC press pass ever make negative comments about this team, I can remember when Waking the Red did a podcast a few years back with Bill Manning as a guest , the team was spiraling down the gutter which I pointed and took a lot of shit on this site from all the pom pom cheerleaders, toughest question they asked Bill was what his favorite team kit was? I was embarrassed for the WTR crew. Speaking of Swansea I remember a Spanish player Borja Baston who played under Bradley who said “Bob Bradley drove the team mad. He made lots of changes and we didn’t know what we were trying to do” HAHA sounds like something we heard this week.
BB accuses Bernardeschi of stepping over the line? I accuse BB of being a horrendously sub par manager who is in way over his head. For a guy like Berna to even insinuate what he did, things must be very bad. We all know that Berna isn’t the problem. #FireBradley