An off-season filled with uncertainty awaits CF Montreal, and fans — like members of the organization — will have to be patient before getting answers.
Things got off to a positive start during the team’s long end-of-season review on Tuesday at the Nutrilait Center, but the tension gradually increased. So much so that it was sometimes cut with a knife.
Six players, the head coach, Hernan Losada, as well as the vice-president and head of sports management, Olivier Renard, took turns speaking and it was clear that a good introspection was necessary. within the club, both on and off the field.
Renard made no secret of saying that he had not been satisfied with his men’s season.
“No, I’m not satisfied. Even if we could have qualified for the playoffs, I would have had the same answer,” he said.
His club was eliminated from the MLS playoffs after losing 2-1 at Columbus in the season finale and seeing the New York Red Bulls score on a penalty in second-half stoppage time of a duel presented at the same time in Nashville.
This honesty from the vice-president of the sports directorate of the Bleu-blanc-noir should in itself have caused a lot of ink to flow, but it was only incidental to what had previously been said at the microphone.
After Quebecers Mathieu Choinière and Jonathan Sirois won individual trophies, designated player Victor Wanyama ignited the situation by openly blaming Losada for his lack of communication.
Usually one of the most used players on the Montreal team, the Kenyan only played 123 minutes in the last 12 games of the season and he only got one start, on September 20, against FC Cincinnati. He gradually lost his position to young Nathan Saliba, who improved a lot from week to week.
” I waited. At first the team was winning so I respected the decision. When we experienced more difficulty, I went to Hernan for reasons and he gave me none. I was surprised,” Wanyama said.
The 32-year-old veteran is still under contract with CF Montreal and he does not wish to leave the club despite this dispute with his head coach.
One thing is certain, one of the two men – or both – will have to put water in his wine. After taking a few jabs here and there, Losada took the floor an hour later and he decided to put on his boxing gloves as well.
“I’ve heard the comments from the players and I think you can really feel who performed well and who didn’t. It’s a team sport, but you also have individual obligations in your position,” expressed the Argentinian, seeming to make a small point at Wanyama.
“When we talk about lack of communication, I want to be clear that I have had discussions with witnesses in which I have been very clear with everyone. Sometimes it’s hard to accept that a young player is better than you. I have never made a decision following a discussion. I made a difficult decision, but I truly believed that a young player from the Academy deserved it. »
The decision was a professional one according to Losada, but Wanyama’s wife had instead spoken about the head coach’s ego in a message shared on the social network X a few weeks ago.
“In football, there are critics everywhere. We also have a job to do and when we don’t do it, we are criticized. Everyone has their opinion, including my wife. She understands football. When you don’t do your job well, you get criticism,” Wanyama said.
In theory, Losada is under contract for next season, but his future with the team is far from assured.
While captain Samuel Piette questioned whether another coaching change would be the solution, Renard did not double-shut the door.
“Hernan is right to not be sure he will come back. Like me, like anyone. I know the fans and the media, you’re anxious to know if anyone’s head is cut off, but what I can tell you is that Hernan has a guaranteed contract, but that doesn’t mean he’s will be here next year. That doesn’t mean he’s going to leave either,” he said.
Throughout the year, Renard noted positive and negative things, but above all he expected Losada’s arrival to be one of continuity. CF Montreal was returning from a record season and the foundations had been laid for it to continue to progress despite the departure of several key players.
We have to admit that the Montreal team has had quite a tough time this season. She went 2-13-2 on the road, had the fourth-worst offense in MLS, and her style of play remained undefined even after a full season of adjustments. .
Piette did not mince his words after a bitter setback suffered in Atlanta a month ago: he lacked clarity and consistency in ideas on the field. The Quebecer repeated his observation in a more calm manner on Tuesday.
“I think the staff’s idea was to keep the same style of play as last year, but there were things that didn’t work as well and additions that fit less with the team we have and the players. players we have. The style we had this year was not as good. For the first year of the coach and his staff, it was getting to know the players well. It doesn’t happen quickly. There are reflections to be made to find a style of play that will please the players and which will give us success,” observed Piette.
“At the start of the season, we played a style of football that was absolutely not expected,” added Renard. Hernan had to return to continuity and at the start of the season, we did everything except that. And it’s not necessarily Hernan, but it’s the stormy context that we had. It was all a bit negative in helping Hernan accomplish what he wanted to accomplish. »