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Nancy Lays His Cards On The Table

Assistant keen on Head Coach role...

SOCCER: SEP 09 MLS - Montreal Impact at NE Revolution
Wilfried Nancy - he realizes it may not be this time, but he retains an ambition to be head coach of CF Montreal one day...
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

You suspect job security is not high on the list of Wilfried Nancy’s priorities... he’s interested in taking the head coach role at CF Montreal!

So he told the assembled media after yesterday’s training session concluded, declaring his readiness.

“My journey has always been gradual. I was a player and after that I graduated very early. I was able to experiment at the Academy level and did several years with the first team. Today, of course, I feel ready.”

On his current temporary role he stated: “After that, the main objective is to bring stability to the club and the players. I am very happy to take the reins on an interim basis.

“Things happen naturally. As we move forward in life, there are stages to be taken. I am very happy with this. Of course I want to be the team coach. But I know how it works. Later we shall see. I take advantage of the present moment.”

I’d never seen the interim coach face the media before, but he fielded questions comfortably and confidently. He seemed as ready as he claims he is, if this video-conference is the gauge. Everything was taken in stride.

Of course Olivier Renard must decide upon Nancy’s suitability for the role, and we strongly suspect the Belgian is considering outside candidates who are likely to be further up the Sporting Director’s list at the present time, but should the job land in his lap many will feel there are few more deserving than Wilfried Nancy.

Now in his tenth year with the club he coached at various academy levels before being elevated to first team duties under Mauro Biello in 2016.

SOCCER: SEP 09 MLS - Montreal Impact at NE Revolution
The first head coach Wilfried Nancy served as assistant under was Mauro Biello. Biello oversaw more matches for the cub in the MLS-era than any other coach. He took charge of 93. Frank Klopas comes next on 83. The last two coaches, Wilmer Cabrera and Thierry Henry took charge of only 28 games between them.
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Nancy explained he wanted his players to possess the ball. This is an ideal espoused by each of the previous two head coaches and while there were positive signs under Thierry Henry, neither he nor Remi Garde ever quite got there.

So how would Nancy go about bridging the gap?

“My job first of all is to guide the team towards what I want. So the fact that the team is younger it could be easier for them to understand the philosophy. Because when you coach older players, sometimes there are bad habits and to change that, it can be more difficult.

“But it could happen. I remember we changed some stuff with Nacho Piatti and Marco Donadel with Mauro [Biello]. But it’s easier when you have a young team to have them play how you want.

“And it’s a day to day process. It’s all about the concept of the game and trying to convince them because they have to act on the field. So for instance the purpose of the practice today was to play together with the ball and try to score, but also how we are going to be able to run together and unbalance the opposition. How we can manipulate the other team by moving the ball by running together to disrupt the line.

“It’s a day to day work and I like it because we have a vision and as a coach, yes, we have to win, we need to win, and the process is the most difficult part, because the players have to take ownership of what they want to do. It is impossible for the coach to tell them everything, but they need to understand what they have to do when we have the ball and what they have to do when we don’t have the ball.”

“There are a lot of concepts of the game which players need to understand and our job as coaches is to be clear and simple. And for the players there’s the need to take decisions [on the field] quickly and so this is about repetition, repetition, repetition. And enjoyment also, because at the end of the day they have to enjoy what they do.”

Montreal Impact v D.C. United
Thierry Henry (left) the fourth head coach Wilfried Nancy served under, brought, “... passion for the game, ideas and the ability to recount in great detail incidents from matches deep into the past, which we would then analyse.”

Having now served as assistant under four different head coaches, Nancy feels he has learned his education from each of them and realizes it may not yet be his time to take control of first team matters on a permanent basis, but his aspiration remains that one day he will become head coach.

“It maybe that my interim period comes to an end and I revert back to assistant, and that my opportunity arrives at a later point. And that will be good also for me.

“But I was able to observe a lot of coaches with different personalties and concepts on football. For me this was a gift. So today I know what I want and the kind of direction I want to give to the club.

“Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying I’m going to be the new coach soon. Maybe it could be now, maybe later, but I’m very comfortable with that. Everything is clear with the club and I am eager to be able one day to coach the team because this is normal progression for me.”

Nancy is looking forward to getting his full squad together. For the players arriving back in Montreal, many have to do the now normal 14-day quarantine period, so even though pre-season started, Monday, the coach won’t have a full squad together until next week.

But this is not a huge issue for the interim appointment.

“There’s another group arriving next week and after that we will have everyone.

“As a coach it’s a puzzle, but exciting. It’s part of the job. We will have two groups not at the same level. The goal is for the third week to have everyone on equal footing. That’s why we have seven weeks preparation this year.“




Check out the latest The Ball Is Round Podcasts. One, a Special, recorded on Thursday evening (25 Feb) on the ramifications of Thierry Henry’s departure (Ep 17) and....

... the other our regular Wednesday edition (Ep 16) recorded 24 Feb (before news of the Henry departure), in which we cover #CFMTL squad strength and depth heading into the new season and other Montreal soccer news... as well as the Canadian WNT at the She Believes Cup.

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