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Garde’s “Sensational” Press Conference that Finally Felt Normal ...

Thoughts on the Tuesday chat that had everyone going ...

MLS: Montreal Impact at New York Red Bulls
Remi Garde’s style seemed to fascinate and surprise all who gathered.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

I was mildly amused at the furore that surrounded Remi Garde’s press conference, Tuesday morning.

Perhaps I shouldn’t, having become accustomed to the usual low-key, uninteresting and non-controversial comment which generally emanates from Stade Saputo.

Maybe it’s an MLS thing, or a north American sports theme? What it is for sure though is, it’s much less intense than what goes on in Europe!

The thing is, I didn’t find anything all that sensational in what the Impact coach verbalised …

He wants more from his bench players. Don’t we all? He named three: Jackson-Hamel, Oduro and Edwards. So, what? It’s not like he threw them under the bus.

Of the three, perhaps most sympathy goes with Oduro, a player never likely to meet the former Lyon coach’s technical standards. Outwardly at least, the Ghanian has behaved professionally since being omitted from future plans, understandably earning respect of the fans.

MLS: Montreal Impact at Philadelphia Union
Freaky Fast - not Garde’s type.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson-Hamel, the tall, potentially powerful, striker has always performed best after emerging from the bench. When he’s started games, you wonder more about his effectiveness. His non-aggressive, laid-back, style often makes him look like a player who should throw his physique about more than he does. There seems to be a worrisome contentedness within, with what he’s achieved so far. It seems Remi has not seen signs that Jackson-Hamel is ready for more.

Raheem Edwards – everyone’s saying; “Where is he?” The coach has explained there have been non-footballing issues affecting the player which need to be overcome. And by the way, in respect of Edwards, I’d suggest the coach’s comments were nothing if not conciliatory.

MLS: Montreal Impact at New England Revolution
Raheem Edwards - players and coach looking forward to having him back fully on-board.
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Bottom-line, the coach (and he’s the guy that matters) and his staff, consider that each of these players (probably all for differing reasons) have been below-par in training. I don’t know, but if it was me missing out on first-team football, I’d be “busting a gut” at the Nutrilait Centre to catch the coach’s attention.

Bear all of this in mind and revert to Garde’s first meeting with the press upon accepting the job at the tail end of 2017, when he said,

“I believe in work. I am a coach who strongly believes in the capacity of training. Training sessions are when we can make the games we play at the weekend a little bit easier for ourselves. Training is not just there to distract the players or the coach. It is when we progress the most.”

Perhaps then, the coach is more consistent in his ideas than the players …… PERHAPS???

Another bench-revelation which emerged was that Garde tends to be more sparing than some others in respect of making substitutions. Well Hallelujah to that! In the past there were matches when I wondered if the intention was to give everyone a recreational run out, rather than to make tactical adjustment, or combat fatigue.

I’m not one for supporting change for change sake, personally. If the coach’s conviction is that things won’t improve, or change, by introducing players from the bench, he’s probably best-placed to make that call. I do though have some sympathy for those suggesting earlier introductions for Jackson-Hamel or Oduro, in one or two games may have helped the cause. Probably not much though, the way things have (or haven’t) developed.

MLS: Montreal Impact at New York Red Bulls
Anthony Jackson-Hamel - Garde and his coaching staff want to see more from the talented striker.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Remi Garde also suggested, Tuesday -

“We can’t stay rooted to the spot every time things aren’t going our way. There’s an adaptation that is necessary in regard to what we’re doing, and the players must also modify a number of things.”

Would any Impact fan say this hasn’t happened on more occasions than is healthy? C’mon, we’ve all been watching. When things go bad, they’ve tended to go completely pear-shaped. The collective out on the field, has at times looked petrified when confronted by adversity. It’s been “deer in the headlight” stuff; a concerning dearth of on-field leadership.

He’s called the team out, he’s called some players out. I’m sure he’s not said anything to the press that he hadn’t already addressed with the players concerned or the group as a whole.

I’m certain that Remi Garde stopped short of what he would really liked to have said, Tuesday morning, and maybe the most surprising of his statements was perhaps the most uplifting one of all ….

“I’m confident because there is quality in this group.”