The chronological summary of events that have marked the Montreal Impact are well known. The free-fall of 2013 that was never handled correctly, late recruitment , Nick De Santis given a new role and a 3rd head coach in 3 years are among the big story-lines that will mark the 2014 season, a season to forget.
One can forget but few will forgive. After 3 full seasons in MLS, the bleu-blanc-noir has not shown to have progressed as a sporting club. As a business organization, the 2015-2017 orientation announced by Joey Saputo is a decision that will help the club reach its clientèle. But how fast can the business side of the club turn things around with a product seen as stale by many stakeholders?
External vs Internal Communication
The post-mortem press conference did not yield any real answers, as expected, and generated more questions than anything else. Colleagues have criticized the head coach for not really giving a clear answer on how to turn the ship around in 2015.
Actually, we should never expect any kind of revelations whether it's Frank Klopas' evaluation process, transfer market ideas and why has the team not won one away game or scored a goal on set-pieces in 2014. Rare are sports organizations that will be that blunt and direct.
This summer's 7-game losing must have triggered the technical staff's evaluation process and Klopas already has an idea who he wants for the 2015 and beyond. Even though he answered the classic '' we will evaluate what happened this season '', the process has already started.
But there is one aspect that is troublesome as per communication and it falls under the Internal category. When Troy Perkins says the following in the post-mortem presser about his future with the club
I don't know to be honest with you. It's one of those things where one day they say yes...one day, it's like I don't know.
Perkins was kept in the dark on his playing status from the club himself, his employers, the coaching staff on whom he depends on, practice with, plays for. If there is one communication breakdown to remember, it would not be the comments (or non-comments) made by Klopas or Legendre's comments on the media coverage around the club. It would be an internal malaise that the ex-Timbers goalkeeper just pointed his finger at.
The Schallibaum Clause
With Nick de Santis out as Sporting Director, Klopas was given the carte blanche as coach-manager but didn't he already have more power than any previous Impact coach in MLS?
Jesse Marsch seemingly had his managerial duties taken away slowly and gradually as the De Santis' influence was more present with the signing of Marco Di Vaio and Alessandro Nesta. Then came Marco Schallibaum. The Swiss "Trainer" came in without any assistant with little say in managerial and player procurement tasks.
Hence the Schallibaum clause. Klopas was signed as '' Head Coach & Director of Player Personnel '' and still holds that title. It was indicative of the ex-Chicago Fire technical director & coach need to bolster his position within the club's structure and have his say on the team composed on the pitch.
Though De Santis' more international role will still have an impact on "international" signings starting with Marco Donadel's 10-day practice with the club, indicative of a future signing in MLS than just saying hello to his friend Di Vaio.
I speak of Klopas' perceived role with the club as Philippe Cantin's article on La Presse points the finger at the organization for giving him too much power as coach and manager, unearned responsibilities as per his track record with the club, as per the same journalist.
Is he really criticizing the head coach with that statement? Or didn't he just point at deeper hidden wounds within the club?
A Malaise with the Media
Richard Legendre, Executive Vice-President, Soccer Operations and Stade Saputo
Il existe trois clubs professionnels à Montréal, mais parfois nous avons l'impression que ce n'est pas le cas en regardant la couverture médiatique
There are three professional clubs in Montreal, but we sometimes have the impression that this is not the case when we look at the media coverage
His comments started a wildfire among media members that criticized the club from not being more open and willing to make coaches and players available. But in total honesty, both parties must find a middle ground towards this media coverage issue.
Yes, the Impact needs to open more during practices, coaches' availability, less closed practices as it must hinder the work of beat reporters, whether it is to write longer stories or TV/Radio media to be able to produce more content available to the fan.
But on the other hand, the '' mainstream media'' , the rights holders, must go beyond their basic (but necessary) role of broadcasting . Sports talk radio and sports shows on TV are predominantly hockey-oriented, actually Montreal Canadiens oriented. Montreal is a #Habs town and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
The soccer/football is not pleased to just have the game broadcasted and get maybe get 45 minutes of combined pre-game and post-game content (that's a generous number). The MLS/Impact futebol ''consumer'' demands more original content, less pre-formatted content, more debates, more impact content, more MLS content.
Decision makers behind Big Media don't need to invest now for the future of culture of a sport that is strong in a diverse city but invest into the MLS product and it just happens that Don Garber's league has an entity in Montreal.