Woke up this morning thinking about TFC and their options.
Seriously, I did. And I'm as suprised as you are. Most winter days I wake up thinking of going back to sleep until the weather warms up.
Anyway, it occurred to me that last week Mo Johnston said that between dumping Ronnie O'Brien's salary and the allocation cash San Jose sent over, TFC had cleared about $450,000 in salary cap room. New acquisition Kevin Harmse earned a little less than $41K last year, which means that if Mo's calculations are correct the team still has about $400,000 to play with. That kind of money can get you a couple of pretty good players in this league. And if my observations are correct the team still has a glaring need for a midfield playmaker, the kind of guy who, like O'Brien, elevates the play of the people around him.
Combine Mo's calculations with my observations and it's easy to conclude that with the season opener a little over three weeks away this team is ready sign someone.
Apparently Sunderland hasn't dumped Miller yet, but they've told him he's free to see other people.
We've all been there, haven't we?
Anyway, at this point the rumours connecting him to TFC are just that -- rumours. I made the perfunctory phone call to TFC, and through their media relations staff I received a perfunctory "no comment" from Johnston. I'm trying to work a couple other sources, but until they tell me otherwise this will remain the latest in a string of unsubstantiated reports about European players allegedly looking to jumpstart stagnant careers in Toronto.
There are a couple of reasons, though, why this move might make a little more sense than the other rumoured signings that never panned out.
1. Complementary Needs Theory
Toronto just lost a midfielder with impressive credentials (O'Brien was a two-time league all star before hurting his knee), and could probably use another midfielder with impressive credentials (Miller's had stints at Celtic and Man U, plus 15 caps with the Irish national team).
Miller, meanwhile, isn't getting much love at Sunderland and probably just wants to be wanted. Maybe TFC is showing him the attention he needs.
2. Miller's issues are correctable ... in theory
I don't know if you guys have noticed this, but the guys from European leagues linked to TFC in transfer rumours usually have an issue or two.
With Joao Pinto it was the calendar. At 36, he's closer in age to Maradona than to Maurice Edu. He may have been a great player once, but there ain't no cure for old.
Darren Huckerby's issue was pills -- the painkillers he was taking for his chronic hip condition. Like Pinto, his stock was headed in only one direction.
In contrast, Miller's biggest problem seems to be that he's the Ray Emery of the EPL.
Huckerby's hip will probably never get better, and Pinto won't get any younger, but Miller can certainly learn to get to practice on time.
Still doesn't mean, though, that TFC is on the verge of signing him. Seems to me that a guy who has shown he can still play on that level (Roy Keane said he had no problems with Miller's performance) can get an overseas gig that pays more than MLS money, so my approach to this one is a combination of "wait and see" and "get to the bottom of this."
Again, until I hear differently I'm treating this one as just another rumour. With Pinto and Huckerby it wasn't hard to tell they weren't coming, but my read on this one is still a little murky.
The only thing that's clear is the TFC needs to make a move.
But is this the one?
-- Morgan Campbell