On my way to Stade Saputo (on saturday morning), I was not sure what the announcement was about. Calling a last-minute press conference , 2 days after the official post-mortem, was obviously big news. There were 2 camps:
--- The Montreal Impact were going to announce a major D.P signing right before leaving for Italy ; a sort of pre-preemptive strike as not to get out-scooped by the media. (Dejan Stankovic rumors popping everywhere the day before)
--- The Montreal Impact were going to announce a major change in its technical staff: Jesse Marsch was going to be let go.
One thing for sure, the timing of the announcement had to be done before the post-season tourney in Italy.
It is important to clarify that this is not a dismissal or a resignation, but rather an amicable parting of ways. Although the decision was a tough one to make, it was made mutually for the benefit of the club. While we had the same long-term objectives for this team, we realized over the past few weeks that we did not share the same philosophy as how to get there. Jesse always had the club at heart and he did his very best to succeed.
Montreal Impact president and owner Joey Saputo's opening statement.
Looking at Jesse Marsch's body language throughout the press conference, there did not seem anything amicable in that separation. Nothing aggressive and I am no body language expert but the doom and gloom around the room was felt.
Even before the conference started ,a bad vibe was going around different media members especially when everyone saw not one, not two but three chairs.
After what seemed to be a positive post-mortem where everyone was safe and the whole organisation was ready to move forward with what it described to be a strong basis. The Post-Mortem basically said '' Jesse Marsch, You My Boy!!! ''
Parting Ways, Getting Fired : Mutual up to a point
Today, this is first and foremost a question of respect. Respect for this club, what it has accomplished and where it is heading in the future. I had several discussions with Joey and Nick on how we could make it work and the conclusion was that this amicable split is the best solution for the club going forward. I am extremely proud to have been part of this organization. I will always be grateful to Joey and Nick for having given me this great opportunity.
Jesse Marsch, ex-head coach of the Montreal Impact.
Outside his initial press conference when he was hired, it was probably the only time that we saw Jesse Marsch read a written script. A very intellectual and excellent speaker, the words coming out of his mouth were not a iota close to his pattern, style and intonation.
The only off-script statement was when he thanked the City of Montreal (not the Mayor ) and the fans.You could definitively hear the difference in the weight of the words and their value to the speaker (Jesse Marsch).
It was so amicable that Jesse Marsch immediately left Stade Saputo after the press conference.
What makes everything more odd ( and personally uncomfortable) was Jesse Marsch's busy week making full interviews in French. It seemed like it was part of a synchronized Montreal Impact PR move knowing that Marsch was learning french all year long and promised interviews in french after the season. Marsch made himself very likable in his public relation with the fans and the media,a card that he played very well and very naturally.
But being a nice guy, committed to the community (etc..) has no bearing if philosophical differences could not be put aside.
In the Western philosophical system, difference is traditionally viewed as being opposed to identity, following the Principles of Leibniz, ... it states that two things are identical if and only if they share the same and only the same properties. This is a principle which defines identity rather than difference, although it established the tradition in logic and analytical philosophy of conceiving of identity and difference as oppositional.
1. Were they differences in philosophies and way of doing things when Jesse Marsch was hired?
Yes. But did the Impact brain trust think it could bridge that gap and work on it throughout the season. With the rumors that stated that Martin Rennie was Montreal's #1 choice, does it make Jesse Marsch the default choice? Looking at what the rookie head coach has brought in MLS experience and input, his candidature made sense.
2. When did the club realize that the gap was too big?
If a philosophical difference was there since the beginning ( the mutual parting proves that it was present since day 1 , was Jesse Marsch a sitting duck since the beginning? Many questions pop-up when trying to figure out the core issue in the split.
The European culture embedded in the Montreal Impact was quickly an apparent barrier to any coach not with a similar culture. From the potential cultural clash with the way the Academy produces players ( vs the College system) to the way a team plays, I find it hard to believe now that Jesse Marsh was not already gone the day after he was hired.
As Joey Saputo's stated when answering a question from another journalist, making the playoffs probably would not have changed the fact the in the long term, the fit was not going to be there.