Circling back on Ryan Nelsen and TFC … and what the hire means to Canadian soccer development

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A few days ago, the highly unusual situation regarding Ryan Nelsen and Toronto FC’s top coaching spot had MLS followers abuzz.

Snark level was turned up to 11, and rightly so, because this one was shot right out of the cannon of the bizarre. We have all pretty much covered the raging instability of hiring Nelsen, who remains under contract at Queens Park Rangers. As a player!

When will Nelsen start? Good question.

Why put a man with zero coaching experience in the far less favorable position of starting from behind? Good question.

Why announce the choice now with all these questions unresolved? Why not put together a handshake agreement and then make it all official later? Great questions.

(MORE: Ripple effect of Jonas Olsson, Ryan Nelsen and Toronto FC)

But past the front line of all these fine questions, others are awaiting their turn in the answer cue.

For instance, Jason DeVos of TSN in Canada wonders about the lack of Canadian coaches for Major League Soccer’s three Canadian clubs.

In addition to the ongoing blow to Canadian soccer development, DeVos, speaking on MLS Extra Time, wonders if the message is being sent that coaching hires in his country are all down to the “who you know” rather than the more substantive “what you know:”

“Yes, they are Major League Soccer franchises, but they are not based in the United States. The landscape is a lot different up in this country. None of these clubs is being guided by Canadian head coaches, not being guided by Canadian technical people, apart from the Montreal Impact, who have Nick De Santis as sporting director. …

“For me, as a Canadian, I think it’s a big problem that Canadian MSL teams don’t want to hire Canadian coaches. And I think the hiring of Ryan Nelson as head coach also sends a poor message, to everyone in Canada who is trying to become a coach, that you don’t need qualifications to become a head coach. Don’t bother getting your education as a head coach, because you don’t need it.

“As long as you know someone who happens to be a in a powerful position at a club, then you can get a job as a head coach. And I think that’s a dangerous message to send out.”

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.