Klopas Le Humble de Nouveau

Ned Dishman

Sean Spence, editor-in-chief of Hot Time In the Old Town, writes an excellent piece and gives us his point of view on the new Montreal Impact Head Coach Frank Klopas; which I think is the best opinion to have, directly from the Windy City.

Google Analytics tells me that I've gotten lots of French-Canadian traffic in the last couple days on my two-month-old piece, "Klopas the Humble.". I wonder what that's all about?

Special from Sean Spence, editor-in-chief of Hot Time In the Old Town

He - who - what now? Fotios Klopas is going to ... wait a minute. Frank Klopas is going to speak French? This I gotta hear. In Klopas, the Impact are getting precisely, as they say in England, what it says on the tin: A hard-working, self-effacing players' manager whose teams seemed to find a way to finish just the wrong side of satisfying.

More from our team sites

More from our team sites


That's not to say it was ever easy for Frank in Chicago. In 2011, Klopas stepped down from the Technical Director role to take over coaching a team that was on the verge of flatlining under then-manager Carlos de los Cobos. This season, the Fire staggered out of the gate, clearly unfit, putting up a 2-7-2 record before turning it around. Each time, midseason additions and a palpable will to continue fighting led Chicago to the brink of the playoffs. Klopas's teams never quit.
That said, the last three seasons have not been high-water marks for the franchise.

Despite the stirring late-season rallies, the 2011 and ‘13 teams still fell short of the playoffs. The 2012 team made the playoffs, but seemed to crumble down the stretch, backing into the postseason and surrendering meekly in a home playoff game against Houston.

As a manager, Klopas is not a modern systems-and-data technophile. You have not hired a Bielsa, or a Mourinho, or even a Porter. In the column linked above, I compared Frank to Roy Hodgson, the English national-team manager, but tactically I'd compare him more to Harry Redknapp. If there's a manager more likely to tell someone to "f**king run around a bit" (as Redknapp famously did to a player while manager of Tottenham) than Klopas, I'd like to meet him.

Frank keeps the structure simple, and wants the players to understand what's expected of them in terms of positioning, cover and runs.

This approach does recommend itself, one assumes, when the locker room is full of deeply opinionated and tactically astute players, as is the Impact's. Klopas is not the kind of manager who is going to provoke a confrontation with players out of pride, or ignore good ideas to assuage his ego. He tries hard. Generally, his players seem to like him, and they generally play hard for him.

In his time with the Fire, Frank's teams have shown a tendency to play a bit deeper than is customary in modern football, especially in the central midfield, where he likes two players who can win back possession in favor of those who keep it. His wingers have tended to play very high up the pitch, and he favors a big/little pairing up top. For a striker, he's had surprising success building teams whose shape is difficult to play against.

When it goes bad with Klopas, though, it can go really bad, and bad in ways that are maddeningly frustrating. He can be painfully slow to respond to mismatches, tactical problems or the game state; offensive subs in the 85th minute when down two goals can feel worse than no subs at all. And, like your departing ‘Swiss Volcano,' if his time with the Fire is any indication, he'll play the legs right off your starters - Klopas seems to settle on a core group of 13-15 players, and doesn't generally rotate until form or injury force his hand.

This explains the unfortunate fact that Chicago has not graduated a single player from the Fire Academy to the first team; players don't get better unless they play, and our kids haven't played, so ...

Throughout Klopas' time with the Fire, there were questions as to where the actual power lay: Did Frank make personnel decisions? Was it President of Soccer Operations Javier Leon? Others in the front office? Was, perhaps, owner Andrew Hauptman pulling some of the strings? Which brings us to Klopas' final credential: He can handle the meddling - at least emotionally.

Whatever is really going on in the Joey Saputo/Nick De Santis front office in Montreal, Frank's been there, done that; he won't cry to the media or throw anyone under the bus. Which, I suspect, may have been as important as anything else I've said here.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Mount Royal Soccer

You must be a member of Mount Royal Soccer to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Mount Royal Soccer. You should read them.

Join Mount Royal Soccer

You must be a member of Mount Royal Soccer to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Mount Royal Soccer. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker