So how well is Remi’s Revolution going after half a dozen games?
Well, actually, not too bad in comparison with how Montreal Impact has traditionally embarked on previous MLS campaigns. And given the tumultuous winds of change at both management and playing levels, and that previously no Impact side has ever before, faced five road trips in its opening six fixtures, arguably this is Montreal’s 3rd best-ever start to an MLS-season.
Undoubtedly the team has looked unorganized and lacklustre at times, and played poorly, particularly in New York, Foxborough and during the first-half in Columbus, but is that so surprising given all the changes?
Changing management in any sphere needs meticulous planning, great communication and a degree of patience. You don’t get from A to B, or in the case of the Impact, 9th place to become a Play-off contender, overnight. It takes time!
A few things have happened to raise the expectancy level beyond what it probably should be. Hiring a renowned coach is one, the influx of several new signings another, and possibly more than anything, positive results against travel-weary, Toronto and depleted, Seattle.
Calmness personified, Remi Garde would probably admit his first few months in the job as being akin to walking into a whirlwind. European coaches often don’t slot into MLS smoothly. There’s a steep learning curve, it’s a league like no other, if just for the amount of travelling alone. Then there’s the different time-zones, and the widely varying styles of play from club to club.
Picking up on all of that is a challenge to any coach not so familiar with North American surroundings. Would Pep Guardiola struggle in the situation Remi Garde finds himself in? You bet your bottom dollar he would!
Same goes for Garde’s management team, then there’s all the new players needing to integrate into a new city and gel with unfamiliar teammates and coaches.
There was the centre-back crisis to deal with, a mixture of bad luck and poor planning. Following on from that, a realization that the squad wasn’t strong enough, so Silva and Camacho were added, possibly against original planning, which leant towards waiting for summer reinforcement.
Judgement at this point on the latest additions, as well as on the team and coaching set-up is pointless, not to say unfair. There’s likely to be a few more, poor performances and results, before things improve. Perhaps not though, hopefully not, but that’s what reason and history tell us about wholesale changes relative to new squad development.
Patience is the key, and coming home is bound to help the squad, even if playing at Stade Saputo for some, will be shrouded in unfamiliarity. But that’s the newness of it all. Montreal’s soccer public should embrace the transformation, one which still has every chance of success.
If there is an obvious concern for this writer, it’s the apparent lack of leaders on the field. Rod Fanni is stand-out in this regard, Saphir Taider and Samuel Piette show similar tendencies, but beyond those three it’s difficult to nominate others.
This won’t be invisible to the coach. He’s already made noises after the first couple of games on how the players need to be brave, be prepared to want the ball and to take responsibility.
He wants his team to possess the ball more than the opposition. That aspiration looks some way in the distance for now, but the new Montreal Impact needs and deserves time to develop.
The question on most fans’ lips for now is, can the side develop quickly enough to remain in contention for a play-off spot?
Well, it’s a long season, folks …… and there’ll be a few twists and turns before it’s over!
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