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CF Montreal boss Gabriel Gervais expects more from his players

Le président et chef de la direction du CF Montréal, Gabriel Gervais, s'adresse aux médias lors d'une conférence de presse à Montréal, le 10 janvier 2023. LA PRESSE CANADIENNE/Paul Chiasson

MONTREAL — Gabriel Gervais has equipped himself with the tools to help CF Montreal climb the standings, but he believes the players must also do their part.

The club's president and chief executive said his team has experienced some bad luck as part of their 5-9-8 record this season but is putting the onus on the players to improve their consistency.

"A serious awareness, both individual and collective, is needed to find more consistency," Gervais said Wednesday during his midseason news conference at Centre Nutrilait, Montreal's training facility.

"There is currently a lot of turnover in our squad, but we are not confident that all the players will deliver the performances we expect from them."

Montreal is currently in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, one point away from a playoff spot. However, the club has the fourth-worst defence in Major League Soccer with 46 goals conceded.

Montreal has squandered a few leads this season — notably against the Chicago Fire, Inter Miami CF and the New York Red Bulls — losing several points that would have pushed the side further up the standings.

It would be easy to point fingers at first-year head coach Laurent Courtois, but according to Gervais the problem runs deeper.

“We can practice everything during training, but it comes down to the players’ determination not to concede goals," he said. "We have not had consistent performances from the players."

“I am very satisfied with Laurent’s overall work, and I have confidence in him," he added. "Now, we need a higher level of concentration to stop dropping these games. We are not that far off, but it comes down to the little details.”

Montreal hit a significant slump in May with only one victory in eight outings, including a home loss in the Canadian Championship to Forge FC of the Canadian Premier League. Numerous injuries and the departure of sporting director Olivier Renard may not have helped.

Since then, Montreal has improved its play and hasn't lost at home. It's a step in the right direction, and on Tuesday, Gervais added longtime MLS executive Corey Wray as a consultant to his technical staff to properly identify the club’s needs.

In the coming months, Wray will collaborate with Gervais and his staff as a strategic sports adviser. In his 18 seasons in MLS, Wray has won the MLS Cup three times and the Supporters’ Shield once. As general manager of Columbus Crew 2, he won the MLS Next Pro championship — with Courtois as head coach.

“The transfer window will open soon. We are looking to strengthen our squad with the right profiles that fit into the style of play Laurent wants to implement. Corey will help us target those profiles,” Gervais said. “He has a lot of experience in developing young players in MLS and has many contacts. We share the same philosophy.”

Gervais mentioned that he met with all the players and had frank conversations with them. He said the goal now will be to distinguish between those who want to be part of the project and those who want to leave.

“This is important. If a player comes here and doesn’t have the will to commit to the project, we will look to move him. Whether it’s now or at the end of the year," he said. "We have already started discussions because the transfer window is approaching very quickly. We are considering all possibilities, including loans, buyouts, or trades.

"We want to improve the team in the short term without jeopardizing or neglecting our philosophy.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2024.

Simon Servant, The Canadian Press

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