While John Herdman faces a steep mountain to climb when it comes to turning around Toronto FC’s fortunes, it’s important to remember that the former Canadian women’s and men’s coach has been here before.
When Herdman took over the women’s side, he inherited a team that was fresh off a last place showing at the 2011 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Morale was at an all-time low following the Carolina Morace era that featured questionable on-field tactics and even more questionable training and preparation methods. But Herdman retooled the team and ended up leading the women to back-to-back Olympic bronze medals in London and Rio.
Likewise, the men’s team was in a state of disarray when Herdman replaced Octavio Zambrano in 2018. Canada had just stumbled its way through another unsuccessful World Cup qualifying campaign and the side was directionless. Herdman raised the standards both on and off the field to the point where Canada qualified for its first World Cup in 36 years and is now legitimately considered one of the best nations in Concacaf.
So, turning around failing and underachieving programs is not something new to Herdman. The key to his restoration project at Toronto FC will be if he can earn the respect of Italian DPs Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi and get them to buy into his way of doing things. And let’s be clear: That’s a very big if.