AMSTERDAM – New Montreal boss Marco Schällibaum is a well-known commodity in his native Switzerland, but most likely unfamiliar to Impact and MLS fans.
As such, we checked in with a couple of leading Swiss soccer scribes to learn what to expect from Schällibaum. The Impact job is his first outside of Switzerland, where he's managed the likes of Basel, Servette and Young Boys Bern.
"He started at the top and went down a little bit through the years," Alex Dutler of top Swiss sports daily Blick told MLSsoccer.com. "His last job [at FC Lugano], he was sacked while the team was leading the second division."
Andy Huber of German-language paper 20 Minuten agreed that Schällibaum has often been given short shrift by Swiss employers. None of the coach's last six jobs lasted longer than a year.
"He does a good job, but at some clubs he has been unlucky not to have enough time," he said.
Huber also noted that Schällibaum prefers to play offensively at all times, but his press colleague says the new Impact coach will need time to install his tactical approach.
"He is good working in a long-term concept," said Dutler. “He has a big theoretical understanding of the game. In his last job, he was working in Asia for FIFA, coaching coaches."
While unsure how Schällibaum's methods will translate with North American players, Dutler figures he will be able to show a deft hand with the Impact's international players. The coach is fluent in English, French, German and Italian.
"He is going to do well with the big shots, like the old Italian faction," said Dutler, referring to veterans Matteo Ferrari, Alessandro Nesta and Marco Di Vaio.
Meanwhile, Huber believes Schällibaum should also prove popular with diehard supporters and the media due to his explosive nature on the sideline and willingness to stand behind his team in showy fashion. Though he could not recall at which post the incident occurred, Dutler said the 50-year-old coach once walked onto the field and "confiscated" the ball in protest of the officiating decisions.
"He is an impulsive guy," he stated. "He's 100 percent with his team, but can get very angry with the referee – he's like a Swiss volcano.
"[Montreal fans] will have lots of good stories. Sometimes, some people may find what he does stupid, but I think he has a good understanding of his actions."
Still, Huber acknowledged that Schällibaum was not quite the blustery character he sometimes portrays during training and matches.
"He's not an easy man," he offered. "But his heart is in the right place."
As for whether Schällibaum's entertaining act will play well in Montreal, Huber figures fans on both sides of the Atlantic will just need to wait for the show to find out.
"It's difficult to say, but I think he will do a good job," he said. "He speaks four languages and he is a very intelligent coach."