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Sporting Director Olivier Renard: Montreal Impact ‘not a satellite club’

New Impact sporting director Olivier Renard was introduced at press conference Tuesday

Olivier Renard (left) sits alongside Montreal Impact president Kevin Gilmore in a press conference at Centre Nutrilait. (Impact de Montreal)

MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact’s new sporting director, Olivier Renard, took no time to address the elephant in the room. Despite their relationship with Bologna FC, the Impact are not a feeder club.

“We are not Bologna’s satellite club,” Renard said in his first press conference in Montreal after being hired Saturday. “We need to have our own identity. The way in which we need to build this team needs to be clear.”

The 40 year-old Belgian admitted it wouldn’t be right to step off the plane from Europe and set the Impact’s identity right away. However, he set the boundaries his club will have from Bologna.

Impact president Kevin Gilmore said Renard will report to him, but will be in close communication with Montreal-Bologna technical director Walter Sabatini. The Belgian will form a trio with Sabatini and Vasili Cremanzidis, head of analysis and assistant director of player personnel.

“It’s true that we have the same father, the owner. It’s more like a step-brother,” Renard said. “We have the chance to profit from a storied league like [Serie A], to have the players, like the young guys that came in, we need to do it. If we don’t, we’re crazy.”

Ability to resell 

Gilmore said hiring a sporting director had been on his to-do list since being named president. He believes Renard fits the bill to get the Impact back to winning ways in MLS. 

“When I arrived in January, I noted fairly early on that there was a need to put in place a proper structure from a sporting standpoint,” said Gilmore. “We selected a young sporting director, a new generation of management. He’s a cornerstone of the vision we have.”

Gilmore was particularly impressed by Renard’s ability to buy players at a low cost and resell them for profit. That has been something Renard had been used to doing in Belgium for Standard Liege and KV Mechelen. 

“Historically he’s shown that he’s been able to join teams that were struggling and turn things around,” Gilmore said. “He’s shown a keen eye for young talent that fit an MLS budget, but maybe with the talent that they can go above and be important players on a global stage.”

“My role will be to find a maximum number of players with high potential of resale, bring them to the head coach and finalize within the budget,” Renard added. 

Taking his time with head coach position 

Renard stated he wanted to see out the season before taking a decision regarding the head coaching position. 

“I will take the time to know everyone and to know how they feel here, it’s important,” Renard said. “After that, we’ll get on track regarding how everyone is feeling.” 

For now, Renard said he wasn’t there to impose things on the Impact coach Wilmer Cabrera. However, the Belgian is interested in one thing only: results. 

“I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to get the best results,” Renard said “And believe me when you get results you have many friends.” 

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