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Is Wilfried Nancy Edging Ever Closer?

As time moves on interim head coach’s chances of permanence increase.

SOCCER: SEP 09 MLS - Montreal Impact at NE Revolution
Will Wilfried Nancy be the first CF Montreal head coach?
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s now more than a week since the Kevin Gilmore/Olivier Renard video-conference when the latter declared he had some names in mind as Thierry Henry’s successor.

Right after the presser, he committed to start ringing around. So, either he didn’t really have a list, the candidates he had in mind weren’t interested, or he’s decided to consider the merits of Wilfried Nancy in filling the Montreal hot-seat.

But that is to over-simplify things.

I’d guess there are several strands running simultaneously, as the process to find Henry’s replacement extends into pre-season training camp.

And one of them is the possibility that Nancy will become CF Montreal’s first head-coach.

From what we know Renard is nothing if not thorough. He’s exceptionally professional at remaining tight-lipped about the files he’s working on too. So the chances of a snippet of news emerging before he decides it’s time, are paper thin.

I think Renard like many in the Montreal football community, rates Wilfried Nancy very highly. But that doesn’t mean he’s ready to hand him the job, at least not yet.

The Belgian will not be rushed into making a quick decision even with pre-season underway. He knows how important it is to get this one absolutely right. And he can exercise patience, as he has someone he trusts in charge during the interim in Wilfried Nancy.

We’ve all heard the comments by now from Sam Piette on how well Nancy is respected by the squad. Patrice Bernier just yesterday on Extratime with Andrew Wiebe appeared to talk up Nancy’s chances too.

New York City FC Vs Montreal Impact
Former Impact assistant coach and captain thinks Wilfried Nancy is a fit when it comes to filling the hot-seat at CF Montreal.
Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

“Do you want continuity, someone that’s internal who the players already know, in whom they have a trust, someone with a similar mindset in terms of philosophy to Thierry and connects to Olivier Renard?

“Olivier will have to take that decision. Maybe there’s other people he knows that are there [possibilities], but Wilfried Nancy seems to tick some of the boxes. I know him personally. I know his frame of mind. He’s been at the club for several years.

“And I go back... Jim Curtin, he was an assistant coach. Five years later he’s Coach of the Year. The team prospers. Brian Schmetzer, same thing. You can compare the clubs, they’re different, but I mean when you look at it there’s been assistants who’ve taken on the [top] job and done well.

“And the way the club is going in terms of the players they’ve brought in, Wilfried Nancy seems to fit where... OK, let’s give this guy a shot and see.”

The job may not be as attractive as it might to some prospects on Renard’s radar, for similar reasons to those which forced Henry away. Playing away from home under covid restrictions for 2-3 weeks at a time and also, with a pandemic, potential candidates may well prefer to be at home, particularly if they are on another continent, and remain close to extended family.

Not getting a full pre-season with the squad won’t help sway potential candidates either, although this is a much lower consideration than covid restrictions. Camp is now underway one week, the clock is ticking, and anyone who arrives here will need to isolate for 14 days. So even if Henry’s replacement is announced Monday, and that person arrives in Montreal by next Friday, it means missing the first four weeks of camp. There will be just over 3 weeks remaining before the season starts.

So the longer it takes for the Sporting Director to make his ultimate decision, the more the situation plays into Wilfried Nancy’s hands, particularly if he’s still in post at the beginning of the season and makes a decent start.

For the former French lower league footballer and Quebec college coach, perhaps his time is about to come...

Check out the latest The Ball Is Round Podcast (Episode 18). Recorded Wednesday evening the TBIR team discuss the general state of CF Montreal in the wake of Thierry Henry’s departure and recent Re-branding/Renaming...

Every Week - The Ball Is Round...
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