Tyler Toland’s father calls for FAI to investigate Vera Pauw fall out
Out of favour 19-year-old contacted Ireland manager but received no response
Tyler Toland hasn’t played for Ireland since September 2019. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
When Tyler Toland sent a text message to Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw last month, she hoped it would be the start of the healing of a rift between the pair that has resulted in the Donegal teenager not appearing in the national squad since November 2019. But if anything, after a very public ‘he said, she said’ spat between Pauw and Toland’s father the past few days, that rift will have widened.
“Hi Vera, Tyler here, I’m reaching out to you,” she wrote. “I would really like a fresh start and for us to put everything that happened behind us. I’m sorry for how everything turned out, it wasn’t good for either of us. I really want to play for both you and Ireland, I feel like I have a lot to give. I’m really working hard on my game and I am willing to do whatever it takes to play with you and get back in your team. Looking forward to hearing back from you. Thanks.”
Toland, though, received no reply.
Last Friday, during her press conference following the draw for the 2023 World Cup qualifying campaign, Pauw acknowledged that she had received the message, but that her agreement with Toland was that she would have to phone her ahead of any possible return to the squad, that a text would not suffice. “Maybe a bit of guts would help her,” she said.
It was that remark about his 19-year-old daughter that most rankled Toland’s father Maurice, even more, he insisted, than Pauw’s allegation during the press conference that he had subjected her to “harassment and intimidation” during a 50 minute phone call.
He described that charge as “ridiculous”, saying that he had only ever spoken to Pauw once, back in January of last year, and while he conceded that it was “a hard conversation”, he said it centred chiefly on the refusal to allow Tyler rejoin the Irish under-19 squad having been dropped by Pauw from the senior panel.
Matters will have escalated after his interview with journalist Chris McNulty for the RTÉ website on Tuesday when he, Maurice Toland, accused Pauw of “savaging Tyler’s character” with her remarks on Friday and alleged that the Dutch woman’s dealings with his daughter, when she featured in her first two squads, had left those around Tyler concerned about her “physical and mental wellbeing”, particularly when she lost a stone in weight in a short space of time.
Pauw’s predecessor Colin Bell had given Toland her senior debut in September 2017 when, at just 43 days after her 16th birthday, she became the youngest ever senior Irish international. Bell started her in every game for which she was available thereafter, her 13th and last cap coming under interim coach Tom O’Connor when she scored in the European Championship qualifier against Montenegro in September 2019. She hasn’t played for Ireland since.
Largely as a result of her form for Ireland, though, she was signed by Manchester City in August 2019. Later that month she joined up with the Irish squad for what was Pauw’s first game in charge. “One of the first things Vera said to Tyler [WAS]’you think that you have made it? You have a long way to go’. Tyler acknowledged that; she knew she had, and still has, a long way to go in the game,” said Maurice.
He alleged that Pauw was persistently critical of Tyler throughout those two camps, particularly of her physical condition, a criticism, he said, that puzzled her club who felt she was in peak condition.
“In Athens, Tyler asked for a meeting. Vera said ‘not tonight’ as she was going sightseeing the following day at breakfast. After that, Vera questioned Tyler: ‘Why aren’t you on my team? I was told that you were the first name on the teamsheet’. Tyler felt that she was ‘one of the sharpest’ players at training in that camp, but Vera’s response was: ‘I don’t care how sharp you are in training, you’re not paying me enough respect’.”
It was her weight loss, though, that most concerned Maurice: “It was then we realised how deep that it went. This is not about football. As far as football management goes, it’s entirely a manager’s prerogative who they select for a squad and who they pick on the team. You have to respect a manager and the manager’s decision. [BUT]what we have here is about the treatment of a young player who had just turned 18 and moved away from home for the first time.
“Vera spoke on Friday about having feelings - how does she think this leaves a 19-year-old feeling? She has said that she wants to ‘save’ Tyler’s career, but her actions suggest otherwise.”
Maurice Toland, who listed eight club and international coaches who Tyler has played for and who would “stand over her character”, called on the FAI to intervene to resolve the dispute.
When asked if Pauw wished to respond to any of Maurice Toland’s comments, the FAI simply reissued the statement they had earlier given to McNulty.
“We are aware of the discussion around Tyler Toland and her position with the Republic of Ireland senior women’s team. This remains an issue between Tyler and our senior manager Vera Pauw and Vera has our absolute confidence and support in dealing with this in an appropriate and measured manner but this will rightly remain a process that will not be in the public domain.”
It is, though, already well and truly in the public domain.