Former Montreal Impact captain Patrice Bernier has had the chance to watch from afar now that he’s stepped away from the game.
Announcing a second annual fundraising futsal match for Maison d’Haiti, a local Montreal organisation that helps the city’s Haitian community, Bernier shared Impact fans’ concern over the lack of player announcements. Bernier said that by seeing things as a fan now rather than a player, he understands how people can be nervous about the team’s new face, or lack there of, with weeks to go before MLS preseason.
“Yes, I’m not going to hide it, when you see a lot of people leaving and no announcements were made yet,” said Bernier. “But there are other teams that have had big changes to their staff and I know in the soccer sphere that when you change your coach, some players that were maybe coming in might not come anymore.”
Alongside him, recognizable faces such as Laurent Ciman and Hassoun Camara have left the team but Bernier believes that there will be a turnaround soon enough.
“I think a lot of people got attached to myself, Hassoun Camara and other faces that aren’t there anymore but soccer moves forward, it changes,” said Bernier. “Fans want to have player announcements but I’m sure that the staff and the club are working hard to bring the best team possible for the 2018 season.”
Another concern for Impact fans was seeing homegrown players leave. During the offseason, goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau expressed his desire to leave the team. In addition, the Ballou Tabla story is still unresolved following the events from last summer where he also asked the front office to move to Europe.
Despite this, Bernier is still confident for the Impact’s youth given Remi Garde’s track record with younger players.
“What reassures me is Remi Garde’s past,” he said. “If we look at Lyon, he played a lot of young players that are now in big league elsewhere.”
Bernier added that “every player should take the best decisions for their careers.” However, he mentioned that Garde and Impact academy director Philippe Eullaffroy have been speaking to each other regularly in regards to academy players that could potentially move up to the Impact first team immediately or during the course of the season.
In regards to the Canadian men’s national team, Bernier also admitted to have been “very surprised” by the news of head coach Octavio Zambrano’s firing. Zambrano held talks with Bernier for most of 2017 to make him rejoin the national team, which he did for Canada’s Gold Cup campaign.
“He was a coach that brought a breath of fresh air and optimism, he gave a chance to a lot of young players,” said Bernier. “We felt that for 2022 it would look good and if we got the World Cup in 2026 we would be even more optimistic.”
“I’m sorry for Octavio, I had the chance to speak to him recently because clearly I thought the ideas were in place but after that, there are things we don’t know,” he added.
Bernier acknowledged John Herdman’s pedigree, who took over Zambrano’s spot from the Canadian women’s program. Having restructured the Canadian women’s program, Bernier hopes that he can recreate it on the men’s side.
“At the same time, he has time to do that because he doesn’t have qualifying games for a few years,” said Bernier. They went with someone they know. His pedigree of women’s football [sold Canada Soccer] that he could maybe do the same thing on the men’s side.”