Olivier Renard will never be completely satisfied with what he sees on the pitch. He always wants more. If at mid-season he paints a generally positive portrait of the results, he knows that they could have been obtained in a sexier way.
Before answering questions on this subject, the vice-president and chief sports officer of CF Montreal made a point of specifying that he was not a big fan of mid-season balance sheets, since we are “far from the goals” and that there are “lots of games to play”. He still lent himself to the exercise late Thursday morning.
“You saw it as we did, there was bad, very bad and good. Now we are in a much more positive phase,” he said straight away. He felt that “some youngsters [had] been put in the middle of the arena a little too quickly” due to injuries and that “elders [had] needed a few weeks to regain the motivation necessary to achieve the necessary objectives. and lift young people up, not the other way around”.
“In the last 14 games, we’ve had 9 wins, so if we could have had that rhythm from the start, it would be another classification. The ranking is not catastrophic, in fact, far from it. We are in the portrait of the playoffs, which is the number one objective of the club. »
In Renard’s fourth season as head of the Impact, the club could reach the playoffs for the third time. It would be a step in the right direction in Renard’s mission to build a “stable club”.
Sportingly stable, of course. In addition, the club had to adapt to a little Argentinian touch this season. That of the third coach of the Renard regime.
Hernán Losada arrived in a particular context. The club had just experienced in 2022 the best season in its history in MLS and it had to replace a local coach who was very popular with the fans.
When Renard saw his pilot defeated in six of the first seven games, panic could have taken hold of the former Belgian goalkeeper regarding his coach, but not at all. Losada did not make a pilgrimage to Golgotha, despite “a lot of pressure”.
“We stayed calm as a club,” said Renard. We spoke more with the players than with him [Losada], because he knew that the departure was going to be complex, but perhaps not [at this point]. »
Nevertheless, the bar has been raised and the sword of Damocles is now miles away from the head of the Montreal instructor. However, do not believe Renard satisfied.
After a frantic and grueling streak of 10 games in 33 days, Olivier Renard is very satisfied with the team’s results, because “the important thing is to take the points”. However, now that the Bleu-blanc-noir is enjoying a 10-day streak without a game, it can begin to refine its tactics and game construction for the second half of the season.
“When the boat gets back to cruising speed, I hope the players will find the style of play that the club and I want to achieve. Afterwards, it’s true that the coach came up with ideas that were a little more direct and forward, but he agreed with me too. These are things we discussed before he was hired. It goes beyond winning and losing. It’s a particular style of play that we want to have,” admitted Renard.
This style focused on possession and especially ball control has sometimes been put aside to put forward long balls mainly directed towards the striker Chinonso Offor. It’s a card in Losada’s game, but the club wants to move towards more thoughtful and picturesque play.
An ambitious but achievable goal for the second half of the season. What’s more, the bulk of the duels will be played at home, where the club have posted a record of eight wins in nine outings in all competitions.
As revealed by the players’ association at the end of April, CF Montreal is the circuit club with the smallest payroll, just over 10.5 million. “I’m happy with the quality of the team. You saw a few weeks ago the salaries of the players, so compared to what we are investing, the quality of the players is there,” said Renard. He’s also happy to once again confound the “league experts who were waiting for us in the lower reaches of the standings.” However, we will have to wait until the end of the season before concluding anything on this subject.