CF Montreal | Olivier Renard in five paintings

If Olivier Renard’s reign at the head of CF Montreal’s sports management were indeed to come to an end, The Press offers you a look back at his journey in Montreal in five notable tables.




Renard arrives, followed by Thierry Henry

Olivier Renard was hired as sports director on September 28, 2019 by president Kevin Gilmore. His arrival was followed, on November 14, by that of Thierry Henry as head coach. A gigantic catch, which Gilmore partly attributes to Renard. The Frenchman himself, through his representatives, established contact with the Montreal club.

PHOTO ROBERT SKINNER, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Olivier Renard and Thierry Henry in 2020

“Olivier spent a lot of time with him and very quickly came to the conclusion that he was our first choice,” the former president indicated to colleague Tony Marinaro, according to comments reported on rds.ca.

At a press conference, Renard added that “as soon as (he) had (his) first contact with Thierry, (he) felt directly that what he wanted fit with what (the club) wanted”.

The Henry era was weighed down by the pandemic, and he resigned “with a heavy heart” on February 25, 2021 to reunite with his family.

The summits under Wilfried Nancy

The departure of the legendary French striker, at the dawn of the training camp for the 2021 season, forces Olivier Renard to make a decision that will mark his reign. Two weeks later, he hired Wilfried Nancy.

PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Wilfried Nancy

Nancy, with a long career within the Impact, narrowly missed the playoffs that year, but by deploying soccer with a truly offensive will. The following year, under his leadership, was one of all records, and the Bleu-blanc-noir finished in second place in the Eastern Conference.

An altercation with Joey Saputo behind the scenes at the beginning of July was one of the reasons leading to Nancy’s departure to the Columbus Crew at the end of the campaign.

“Despite the efforts made by the club for Wilfried to continue our project, we were forced to accept his decision to leave the organization,” Renard said in a press release. We want people who want to be with us and Wilfried wanted to take a different path. »

A philosophy that bears fruit

Under Olivier Renard, CF Montreal adopted a sporting direction intrinsically linked to its business model. No more big-ticket celebrity acquisitions. Hello, wise transfers of young players to develop.

In 2022, Nancy’s success has been largely linked to the performances of her aces Djordje Mihailovic, Ismaël Koné and Alistair Johnston. The first was transferred to AZ Alkmaar for a sum estimated at $7 million, touching on his dream of playing in Europe. The second, who joined CF Montreal from amateur club CS Saint-Laurent, enjoyed a stratospheric rise, was recalled by Canada, played in the World Cup in Qatar and was sold to Watford, in the second division English. The third, after a superb defensive campaign, moved to Celtic in Glasgow, Scotland, where he quickly became a fan favorite.

PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Ismaël Koné

All these transfers brought in big profits for the CFM. Others, within MLS itself, were less spectacular, but also played their part in the team’s success. Let’s think of Romell Quioto who, despite injuries, today ranks fourth in the history of the Bleu-blanc-noir in terms of goals, with 38 goals in 94 appearances.

Failures

To use baseball jargon, the sports management under Olivier Renard, on the other hand, did not have a perfect batting average.

The worst mistake was that of Bjørn Johnsen. Arriving from South Korea in 2021, the Norwegian striker was one of the only players, with Victor Wanyama, to receive a salary above 1 million, at least in his first year. How many goals has he scored? Two. In 26 matches. Troubled by injuries, he simply didn’t play in 2022 before being released.

PHOTO JEFF DEAN, ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVES

Bjorn Johnsen

Then the Matko Miljevic blunder comes to mind. The Argentine had been seen by Olivier Renard himself as Mihailovic’s successor in attacking midfield. Not only did Miljevic never manage to play the number 10 role, but he struggled in a garage league in Laval, which pushed the club to end his agreement in the fall of 2023 .

Mason Toye, Lassi Lappalainen, Robert Thorkelsson are other names that can be included in Olivier Renard’s list of failures during his four and a half years at the head of sports operations.

From Losada to Courtois

Renard’s record should be generally positive, but let’s not ignore the hiring of Hernán Losada, who was very damaging last season. The Argentine coach had promised the sports management that he would offer the style of football they wanted to see… so that ultimately, the Impact played direct soccer, very different from what had been agreed.

PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Hernán Losada and Olivier Renard

In this sense, Renard ended up saying, on balance, that even if the goal of qualifying for the playoffs had been achieved, he would not have been satisfied with the season. Players, including Samuel Piette, criticized the tactical preparation of their coach, while Wanyama complained of poor communication. His inevitable dismissal surprised no one last fall.

The sports director therefore took his time before finding his successor. Laurent Courtois, who headed the Columbus Crew reserve team, was hired at the beginning of January. For the moment, the players say they like this style and under his orders.

The latter, when asked upon his arrival what his predecessor Wilfried Nancy had told him about CF Montreal, replied: “Be yourself, buckle down, and enjoy it (be yourself, buckle up, and enjoy the ride)”.

The roller coaster has well and truly begun. It remains to be seen whether Laurent Courtois is well attached.


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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