MONTREAL – It seems like only a matter of time now before the Montreal Impact’s head coach position is set.
Interim head coach Mauro Biello took the podium on his own, this Thursday morning, for a 65-minute long postseason press conference that he started by stating that he was still just that: the interim head coach of the first team.
But productive negotiations are ongoing, Biello assured.
“When I accepted the role as interim head coach, it was discussed that we would speak about my future after the season,” Biello said. “Just to clarify things, I’ve had good discussions with Joey Saputo. Things have gone well. I don’t want to hide anything: yes, I’d like to be back as head coach. And I feel that the club wants me to be back also. That’s where we’re at right now.”
The Montreal front office, for their part, will comment on Friday morning through president Joey Saputo and technical director Adam Braz, who will meet the media after the players do so. It will be interesting to see whether they look ahead to 2016, for Biello chose to do little of that despite several questions on the next season – roster decisions, tactics, needs, etc. and so on.
Biello insisted on how proud he was of his team, even in defeat last Sunday at Columbus in the Eastern Conference semifinals. While the Impact put their best foot forward in two victories on rivals Toronto FC to close out the regular season and start their Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs run, Sunday’s loss, in terms of attitude at least, also displayed what his group can do.
“This team has shown signs of good soccer, of growing, of an identity, of belonging, of a will to win,” Biello said. “It was important to transmit that. I wanted that, first and foremost, for this team to have that feeling that I shared and that a lot of fans shared, that it’s important to win and play in front of your fans and do well in this city. It’s the base of moving forward and developing your offensive style of play, your defensive style of how you want to be, in transition how you want to be.
“With the addition of Didier Drogba, who brought this leadership, this ability to bring a team together, it’s helped me,” Biello continued. “Once that’s in place, it’s important to start building that identity of how you want to be, defensively. We’ve shown that. It’s starting to build in terms of how we were compact on the field, how we were difficult to beat, communicating, dealing with overloads. … Those are things that need to continue to be worked on in the future to help this team to continue to improve.”
Biello’s 9-3-2 record since taking over suggests that his work is paying off for the team. It could also pay off for himself. Club president Saputo, Biello said, “ is very happy with what he has seen on the field.” Biello has felt similar support from his technical staff, who he said helped him through the tough moments.
At 43 years young, Biello concedes that he still has a lot to learn as far as managing and preparing a roster, setting up training sessions or making the right decisions is concerned. But he’s ready to take the job full-time and come under increased scrutiny.
"You’re going to be judged on your performances, but I’ve always believed that if you can work in a good way, transmit your demands to your team and communicate that through your messages and training sessions, you put yourself in a better position to be successful,” Biello said. “But even if you work in the right way and you prepare from A to Z in the best way, you’re not guaranteed to win. … But I tell myself that if you can work a certain way, engage the group and convince them of your methodology and objectives, it’s the foundation for success.”
And although Biello isn’t going public with any plans related to the next season, part of him is certainly thinking about it. When Biello was asked about the possibility that some of his players go on offseason loans, his response suggested that he wants them to be fresh when he returns to coach the team in early 2016.
“This was an extremely busy season,” Biello said. “Going off to train is one thing. You have to stay in shape, because there are about two months [off]. But going to another league and experiencing more of those strong feelings and pressures, it becomes tough on players. We know we have interesting players, and clubs may be interested. But as long as no concrete offers are on the table, players will get a rest, go on holiday and get ready for next year.”
And, most likely, so will Mauro Biello.