But while Nicol says, “Winning is the deodorant of the game; it covers up all bad smells,” Setlur cautions while that may be true in the dressing room, it doesn’t always filter through to the marketing department.
“You can see that though the [Toronto] Raptors are a winning team, they’re not selling out the Air Canada Centre because all those years of losing have degraded the fan base somewhat,” he says of the seemingly playoff-bound NBA team, currently playing to 91.1-per-cent capacity through 33 games – a far cry from the Vince Carter years of almost blanket sellouts. “And the fact that the team doesn’t have a definitive star player, that drawing card that will get fans to the game whether the team is good or mediocre.”
Players such as Defoe, Bradley and Cesar – all three “nailed on to do well,” according to Redknapp – should ensure star power is not in short supply at BMO Field this season, and the goals won’t be either.
“You know, you can look at your team at the start of the year and you can say, ‘Yeah, Jermain Defoe, 20-odd goals,’” he says. “Other players you’ll say, he’ll get two, he’ll get one, and you won’t be far away. People who get one, two or three goals, they don’t suddenly go and get 18 goals.
“[Redknapp’s nephew Frank] Lampard gets 20 goals every year for Chelsea from midfield and that’s the way it works.”
But while goals are nice, it’s results that count, and in his quest to lead TFC into the playoffs for the first time, Nelsen is more focused on getting points on the board than balls in the net.
“Football, especially modern-day football, it’s really romantic to say that we’re going to keep the ball, create a bunch of chances and fairy dust and ponytails,” he says. “But the real truth is the majority of games won by the Man Uniteds, by the Real Madrids and Chelseas are grinds, they’re hard.
“They get up and they grind them out and good teams do that and that’s what you’ve got to do over a long, long, long season.”