As the managerial merry-go-round of soccer continues to spin in Montreal East, mountroyalsoccer.com takes a look at the best and worst head coach records since the club entered the elevated ranks of MLS in 2012.
Throughout its history of coaching instability, Montreal’s football club has yet to employ a coach who has managed to stay the course for a century of MLS regular season games.
How about ninety games? No!
Actually... former player Mauro Biello has come closest, remaining in charge for 79.
But the former coach with the greatest number of regular season points per game is Marco Schallibaum with 1.44 in 2013, as the Impact just held off a late season slump to become a play-off team for the first time. The Swiss’ win percentage is also highest at 41.18%
Biello does however claim most of the other positive head coaching records; Lowest loss percentage (37.97%), highest goals scored per game (1.51), highest Conference finish (3rd) after taking over 2⁄3 way through the 2015 season from Frank Klopas. Biello’s record over the last eleven regular season games that season was an impressive 7-2-2.
He’s also the only coach to take the Impact to a Conference final (also 2015) and were it not for a disastrous last 10 games in charge of the side a couple of years later, would also have eclipsed Schallibaum’s points per game and win percentage records.
Biello’s last ten games in charge (end of 2017) resulted in only one win and nine defeats. Before that skid occurred his all-time regular season record in both categories was superior to Schallibaum’s.
The only coach to take the Impact to three finals, Frank Klopas, recorded some of the least impressive regular season stats, although it should be noted his arrival in 2014 coincided with a pre-season in which the club failed miserably to strengthen its squad.
Klopas claims three unwanted records - lowest points per game ratio (0.98), least goals per game (1.19) and lowest win percentage (24.56%).
Another cup winner, Wilmer Cabrera amazingly claims the record for lowest goals conceded per game (1.43) over his seven MLS games in charge, although his goals scored per game ratio (1.14) is also the lowest of all previous coaches.
The former Colombian World Cup player also has the highest loss percentage (57.14%), just worse than Thierry Henry (56.52%), although it must be remembered that Henry’s team played only 4 games out of 23 in Montreal and Cabrera’s only 2 from 7 away from home.
When it comes to most goals conceded per game, it’s the club’s two former French coaches who come out worst of all. Remi Garde’s team conceded 1.69 goals per regular season game, and Henry’s 1.87 (but again the number of home games for Henry’s team was greatly reduced).
In past seasons, only Biello (twice) and Schallibaum have steered the club to a top five Conference finish. The Impact’s lowest Conference finish was under Frank Klopas in 2014 when they finished 10th, rock bottom in the East.
The end for Biello came when his side finished in a lowly 9th place, a performance celebrated last season under Thierry Henry which propelled them into the play-offs.
Under Remi Garde there were 7th and 9th place finishes (in the latter campaign Wilmer Cabrera took over for the last 7 matches).
So which coach performed best?
Although Frank Klopas can claim to have taken the club furthest on the continental stage, his record in MLS was unimpressive thus I’m discounting the Greek-American from the debate.
Jesse Marsch, once his players begun to gel, had the team playing some scintillating football, at home, in its inaugural MLS season, although road form left much to be desired. There was not only a positive vibe about Marsch, he also he seemed to be on the right track.
Somehow he was allowed to leave, professional differences cited as the reason. His subsequent successes at New York Red Bulls and in making RB Salzburg a Champions’ League team over the past two seasons, will not surprise many observers of his work in Montreal.
Schallibaum’s team made a great start to the 2013 season, winning its opening four games, but ran out of steam beyond halfway and only just scraped into a play-off berth when at one time it looked highly probable. His oft seen tantrums didn’t sit positively against his prospects for earning a second year with the club and he was fired at the end of his only season.
Remi Garde’s 7th and 9th place finishes and failure to land a Canadian Championship does not amount to success and Wilmer Cabrera despite having a Canadian Championship success to his name, spent only seven MLS games in charge of the team, so neither man’s contribution could be considered positively.
Which leaves Mauro Biello and Thierry Henry...
In respect of Henry we will never know what might have been achieved in his second season. While he was in Montreal he applied himself to the job with total commitment and while desired results were not yet evident, there were encouraging signs that things were moving in the right direction. Then the roof caved in with his resignation.
Mauro Biello therefore probably has the strongest claim as the Impact’s most successful manager since entering MLS. His final ten-match slide aside, he would have held all the positive coaching records including points per game, goals per game, highest win percentage and lowest loss percentage.
Biello also steered an aging Impact team to a highest-ever Conference placing (3rd) and through to the Eastern Conference final where they lost on aggregate to Toronto FC after, at one stage, leading the first-leg by three goals.
But then again he did have Piatti and Drogba consistently producing the goods...
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