Patrice Bernier was at the Maison d’Haiti on Tuesday morning, holding a press conference for his second annual charity futsal event, “Patrice Bernier & Friends”, benefitting the Maison d’Haiti in Saint-Michel.
Soon as the event ended, however, he was itching to get back to training.
Bernier is hard at work “in the learning process” of being a youth coach for the Impact. The Impact announced in November that he’d be a coach for the Impact Academy’s U-13, U-15, U-17, and U-19 players. He’s certainly not dwelling on his playing days being over.
“It’s non-stop right now,” Bernier said. “I’m not getting into that depressive state of retirement, while I’m already jumping into something new that’s keeping me on my toes by challenging and motivating me.
Bernier has also recognized that the main squad is going through a number of changes and uncertainty, notably losing players like defender Laurent Ciman and Hassoun Camara. He shares fans concerns about the lack of activity from the Impact this offseason. But he also sees hope in new manager Rémi Garde’s offseason plans.
“The face of the Impact is changing, it’s getting younger,” Bernier said. “A lot of people connected with guys who aren’t there anymore like [Camara] and [Ciman]. But the game goes on, it changes. I think people like me, as fans, we want to hear news about the team but I’m sure the staff and the club is working hard to bring in the best possible elements to field the best possible club on the field for 2018.”
“I won’t hide it. You hear a lot about guys who are leaving and you haven’t heard much news [about guys coming in]. I’m looking at other teams as well who have also made big changes with players and coaches,” he continued. “I’m a fan even if I’m working with the team. I want to see a team that will be super competitive and i want to see players who we can get excited about for the 2018 season. I’m confident that we’re working on that.”
On Wilfred Nancy being retained by the IMFC coaching staff:
“Wil had a year and a half with the staff from before and he knows the league. He might have an idea of how Remi works as well. He’ll bring his expertise and will inform Remi on the adjustments he’ll have to make as rapidly as possible, as there is an adjustment period. New culture, new way of doing things. I won’t be too far, I’ll be right by his side. We’ll do everything we can to help the club so the Montreal Impact will see some success in 2018.”
On his relationship with Remi Garde, to date:
“We see each other in the hallways, I run into the rest of the staff as well. Wil is there, but the door is open for help if they need me. No matter what, I’m very confident in the staff that’s in place.”
On how he’s been handling retirement and his new coaching gig
“It’s going to take some time. But I’ve no regrets.”
“I’ve got a great challenge ahead with the Academy. I know the game but I have to analyze it from the viewpoint of development. I think that’ll help with how to structure things as a coach and visualizing what I’d like to if I ever got the opportunity to be a head coach or be a coach for the first team. I’m in the right place, with guys who can help me like Philippe Eullafroy, the director of the Academy, and the rest of the staff. It’s a lot of work but I’m in the world of soccer so it’s not bad.”
On the future of Quebec players from the Academy with Remi Garde
“What reassures me is how Remi dealt with players back at Lyon. He played a lot of young players who are now championship winning players. Clearly, has it in his pedigree that he’s given young players chances. So it’s on him to watch them in the preseason. Seeing them on video is one thing, but others haven’t played enough minutes, and with each player he’ll make the decision that’s best for their career.”
“Of course I’d like to see more players from the Academy get a chance, because playing matter. It makes in difference in seeing if a player can be a star or if they’re not at the level they should be at.”
“It’s on guys like Samuel [Piette], Louis [Beland-Goyette] and [Anthony] Jackson [Hamel] to show they’ve got a place in the starting 11 and to be the new generation of local players who become the face of the team on and off the field.”
If he knows anything about the future of Jean-Yves Ballou Tabla
“No, I haven’t spoken to him. I kind of disconnected from some of the players. I see them, I speak mostly to the coaching staff, but I do run into them from time to time.”
“I don’t know what his plans are. [I don’t know] if he still wants to leave or not. If he wants to stay here, at least he’ll have a guy like Remi Garde who has a history of playing young players who are now established players. We’ll see. It’s on him to make the decision he wants to advance himself and to have a career, because the goal is to have a long career.”
On losing Canada Soccer head coach Octavio Zambrano:
Very surprised. I had a relationship with him before and during the recent Gold Cup. He’s someone who brought a breath fresh air and optimism to the team. Gave chances to a lot of young players. We knew 2018 wasn’t possible, but maybe 2022 could be good and maybe even 2026 if Canada gets the World Cup with the United States and Mexico, we could be even more optimistic. Clearly, the Canadian Association felt they needed to make changes and that they weren’t satisfied with a few things.”
“We’ve got Herdman who’s done well with the women’s side. He’s seen success and has been able to change the organization with the women’s team and their younger players and maybe he could change things on the men’s side. He’ll have time on his side because he won’t have qualification games for the next few years. We’ll be with someone we know and his pedigree from the women’s side might suggest he might be able to do the same thing with the men.”
On Laurent Ciman:
“I spoke with him the day after he was traded. He was surprised. As a fan, and as a friend...you wish he could be here forever. But from a sports/business standpoint, I understood. It was hard in the moment, he was established here. He’ll certainly want to come back. But he’ll be in the sun and he’ll have new projects. For us, it’s as if a big piece of our team has left us. But the staff in place realizes it’s a new era and we wanted to see how we could adjust the team and what we could look like in the future, which isn’t just next but also within the next two to three years.”
On Blerim Dzemaili:
I haven’t had a chance to speak to him. I’ve only heard reports that he’d be leaving. It sucks, but I think he saw things in his personal view that changed certain things for him and, I understand, he didn’t enjoy the end of the season. We just have to cross our fingers that we’ll get some reinforcements for 2018. Pre-season starts soon and we hope to have a team that can rival and be competitive with the other MLS teams.