TORONTO, Cananda - Toronto FC continued its makeover Monday, announcing that technical manager Bob de Klerk has left the MLS club.
The decision was mutual, according to a three-paragraph release from the team.
"We want to thank Bob for his commitment to the club over the past two seasons," Kevin Payne, Toronto's president and general manager, said in the statement. "As we enter a new era for the club, we all agreed that this move made sense for all parties. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours."
De Klerk was part of the Aron Winter management team installed in January 2011. At the time he served as Toronto's first assistant coach and assistant technical director.
There could be more changes in the wind in Toronto, which finished with a league-worst 5-21-8 record last season. Ten players have already been released or traded away.
While Jim Brennan, Jason Bent and goalkeeping coach Stewart Kerr remain manager Paul Mariner's assistants, there has been speculation that veteran New Zealand defender Ryan Nelsen might be leaving England's Queens Park Rangers to take up a coaching job in MLS — with Toronto and D.C. United seen as possible destinations.
QPR manager Harry Redknapp has confirmed the 35-year-old Nelsen has been offered a coaching job in North America. Nelsen used to play for Payne at D.C. United.
As Winter's top assistant, De Klerk was fire to Winter's ice. He was a fervent advocate of the 4-3-3 system, relishing an attempt to demonstrate its advantages whenever a whiteboard was near.
And while he had a ready smile under his bald dome, he could also exhibit volcanic emotions. His raised voice was commonplace on the practice field.
With Toronto reeling from eight straight losses at the start of last season, the fiery Dutchman was shifted sideways in May 2012 when he was named technical manager. Brennan, TFC's first signing and captain, moved up from the academy to become first assistant coach and Mariner, then the team's director of player development, was given more leeway to help coach the team's strikers.
The shuffle was clearly an attempt to address the team's woeful start without firing Winter as manager — although Winter insisted it was just a bid to better use his resources.
Some also suspected it was also a way to distance De Klerk from the first team. The previous game had seen De Klerk having to be separated from then Montreal manager Jesse Marsch after an altercation at the end of a 2-0 Toronto win at BMO Field.
No longer on the TFC sideline, De Klerk's new responsibilities included advance and international scouting, as well as serving as the "technical conduit" between the first team and academy program.
Winter said at the time the move would allow the team "to benefit more from his technical expertise and have him play a more active role in the day-to-day operations of the club off-the-pitch."
De Klerk worked with Winter at Ajax where he was a coach in the Dutch club's youth academy.
De Klerk spent nine years at Ajax and also worked with Ajax Cape Town of the South African league. Before moving into coaching, de Klerk played for KSV Waregem in Belgium and De Graafschap in the Netherlands.