Gary Smith on Ryan Nelsen’s move to Toronto

Gary Smith. Photo: Harry Hubbard

Gary Smith. Photo: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

STEVENAGE boss Gary Smith is keeping his fingers crossed that newly appointed Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen can bring success to the Canadian Major League Soccer (MLS) side, while being disappointed his good friend Paul Mariner has been replaced there.

Ryan Nelson in action for Spurs against Boro in last season's FA Cup

Ryan Nelson in action for Spurs against Boro in last season's FA Cup - Credit: Archant

Smith knows the MLS well after a triumphant spell with Colorado Rapids, in which he guided them to MLS Cup glory in 2010, before becoming the Boro manager in January 2012.

QPR and New Zealand defender Nelsen, who also played in the Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur and Blackburn Rovers, was this week confirmed as Toronto’s new head coach replacing Mariner.

Nelsen will link up with franchise president Kevin Payne with whom he previously played for at fellow MLS team DC United.

Speaking exclusively to The Comet, Smith said: “Ryan knows the league very, very well; he had a lot of success at DC United.

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“Ryan was Kevin’s captain in their [DC United’s] most successful period, so you can understand the move for such a decorated player, he played for his country and had a fantastic Premier League career.

“I have only met Ryan once or twice, but he seems a real stand-up, honest guy.

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“From all the press I’m reading Kevin is saying he’s the best captain and strongest character he’s had around in his time in MLS.”

While he will be well supported, Nelsen’s job will not be an easy one according to Smith.

“It’ll be tough for him though, he’s not had a lot of experience if any, but what you do know is that he’ll get a tremendous amount of support from Kevin as the new president,” he said.

“Toronto have terrific resources there so they’ll be doing absolutely everything they can to make sure the season that they get involved in is a successful one.

“They have not made the play-offs in their six or seven year franchise history and I know the guys that are there will want more than anything else to be in that post season shake-up.

“Expect a number of moves, they’ll be in for a lot of players, they’ll be I’m sure throwing a lot of resources at it and I keep my fingers crossed it goes well for them.”

While being pleased for Nelsen, Smith admitted he was disappointed to see former England International Mariner depart Toronto.

“In another breath it’s sad for Paul Mariner,” he added.

“I know Paul well, I like Paul and get on really well with him, but of course when somebody comes in it means somebody has got to go and it’s a shame because Paul has done an awful lot for the game in America.”

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