MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact's future is now in the hands of Remi Garde.
Impact president Joey Saputo hired the 51-year-old Garde as Montreal's new head coach and director of player personnel on Wednesday. Garde, a former manager at Lyon and Aston Villa, takes over coaching duties from Mauro Biello, who was fired on Oct. 23.
"Moving forward, our objective for this club remains the same, but today we are laying a solid foundation with a different approach," Saputo said in making the announcement at the Impact's Centre Nutrilait training facility. "We believe Remi's tremendous experience, his vision and knowledge of the game, his management style, his intimate understanding of youth development will give this club a new start at every level."
A product of Lyon's academy, Garde was a defensive midfielder and center back who played the majority of his career for Olympique Lyonnais from 1987-93, helping Les Gones to a Ligue 2 title in 1988-89 and promotion to Ligue 1. After three seasons with RC Strasbourg, he played his final three seasons for Arsenal, where he won a Premier League title under Arsene Wenger in 1997-98.
As a manager, Garde's most recent experience was in 2015-16 with Aston Villa, a 20-game stint in the English Premier League that ended by mutual consent. Prior to that, he coached Lyon for three seasons, winning the Coupe de France and Trophee des Champions in his debut in 2011-12. Prior to his head coaching career, he worked variously as an assistant manager at Lyon, director of the club's training center, and as a television pundit.
"I was developed by Lyon, I played for Lyon, I trained in Lyon," Garde said. "Even though I experienced playing elsewhere, that club has its stamp on me. And in that club there is a certain playing philosophy, which is an offensive philosophy, a goalscoring philosophy, to play a possession style of game. So I would say that is my ideal approach."
After making the MLS Cup Playoffs each of the previous two seasons under Biello, Montreal was unable to return to the postseason in 2017, finishing in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with a 11-17-6 record.
"As I stated at the end of the season conference, the first criteria we had for any candidate in this position was experience in the highest level because one of our strategic objectives for the next few years is not only to stay connected to the international scene but also to field a competitive team, a team that our fans can believe in," Saputo said.
Saputo was also impressed with the quality of the candidates who were considered during the Impact's search for their fifth coach since debuting in MLS in 2012.
"During this process I've had the fortune of meeting some extraordinary experienced coaches that I would have never dreamed would be interested in our club," Saputo said. "And although the process to narrow it down to our selection wasn't easy, I believe that today's announcement reinforces the principles of the type of person we are looking for at every position, at every level."