Olivier Renard alluded to the fact that “no more than five people” were seriously considered to fill the head coaching role vacated by Thierry Henry.
He wasn’t keen to name names, as some remained attached to clubs, which had to be approached by Montreal before any discussions could occur.
But although there were notable candidates from both Europe and North America, the key consideration was less about attracting a big name. Moreover, it was about finding someone with the same operating strategy and playing philosophy that begun with Thierry Henry’s appointment 15 months ago.
“You don’t always have to look very far to find quality,” said Renard.
“At the end of the day, Wil has always been at the top of the list, but I also had to look around to see what could be going on. We have great confidence in him, and we show it by giving him the head coach position.”
It is a cautious appointment, however. Nancy has been given only a one-year contract with “many options”.
And perhaps that’s fair enough. For the 43 year-old Frenchman it was probably a case of now or never, and for the football club, there’s the uncertainty that comes with appointing a head coach without any previous experience in this elevated role.
What Nancy does provide though is a thorough knowledge of the club, from the management levels – he’s got to know Olivier Renard well over the past year – right down to the youth levels he once coached.
He also possesses a penchant for coaching younger players, an attribute that certainly lends itself when you look at the relative youthfulness of the current first-team squad.
Players past and present like Patrice Bernier and Samuel Piette, have spoken highly of what he can bring to the role, how he excels in getting his message across in a clear and calm manner and his ability in addressing players individually. Sam also spoke of the respect Nancy is afforded by those in the dressing room, a key ingredient, especially in following the huge personality that was Thierry Henry.
Nancy is not completely without experience. He operated under three previous head coaches, each of whom he was close to; Mauro Biello, Remi Garde and Henry. And although he cannot point to being a #1 before, he feels well-prepared for the job.
“It’s true that this is my first experience as a head coach, but I have a lot of experience in this area as well. I was a player in France, I know how it goes.
“But it was all clear from the start. If the club had decided to go in another direction, it would be a lie to say that I would have jumped for joy, but I would have understood the decision. It wouldn’t have been my moment.”
Renard was keen to point out that “… there is absolutely no knife to his [Nancy’s] throat to get results straight away. I am aware of the arrival of a lot of new players, of the team which is young and of the reality of not being in Montreal for the next few weeks.
“There is no deadline on my side or [demand] to make the playoffs. Obviously, we want to make it, he does too, but there is no pressure from that side.”
The video-conferences conducted today and last week by Wilfried Nancy, who until now has been the quiet man at the club despite entering his sixth year with the first-team, have elevated his profile.
He’s been impressive, talking eloquently, thoughtfully and with confidence (in French and in English) and dare I say his performance in front of the media has had a reassuring effect to those observing.
Outwardly at least, he’s handled it all with apparent ease. Like a natural. If it’s not his forte to face the media or be in the glare of the camera, then you wouldn’t know it.
On targets, Nancy clearly has the play-offs in his sights, however he sees progression and development of his players just as important.
“I have ideas, I know where I want to go. Today we’re talking about this one-year contract, but what interests me is to move forward and see what I will be able to have in the future.”
Regards his coaching staff, he intends to take his time deciding if he needs a possible addition, saying, “The essential quality of an assistant is to be able to confront the coach with respect so that the latter can make the best possible decision.”
Assistant coaches Kwame Ampadu and Laurent Ciman, as well as goalkeeper coach Rémy Vercoutre and physical trainer Jules Gueguen are his staff for now.
In the fickle world of football, this appointment is as popular as it gets. Apart from a rising groundswell of comment by fans throughout social media, most containing the sentiment that Nancy deserves his chance, quite a few players and former players have advocated support for his suitability to the role.
That will be music to the new man’s ears. There’s no shortage of goodwill accompanying him as he embarks on the highest profile job of his career.
All Wilfried Nancy needs now is a good start…
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...
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