MONTREAL – It’s all about accountability, Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo tells everyone at his club.
And yes, "everyone" does include club icon Nick De Santis, who was relieved of his sporting director duties on Wednesday.
For De Santis, Saputo said, “the team is his life,” which further complicated the decision. Over 20 years as an Impact player, coach and director, De Santis won a second-division league title in every role before the club joined MLS in 2012.
“However, we are in a results-driven business,” Saputo told reporters. “Unfortunately, since July 2013, our results have not been what we expect them to be. The decision not to make moves to improve this club during the offseason, albeit calculated, did not give us the competitive edge we were expecting.”
After Montreal made minimal roster moves over the winter, De Santis reminded Saputo to evaluate him based on his performance, telling him he would be accountable for it. The Impact did win a second straight Amway Canadian Championship, but sit bottom of the league (3-12-5, 14 pts).
“We tried with coaches, had three coaches in three years,” Saputo said. “We changed players. Obviously Nick took responsibilities as sporting director. He made decisions during the offseason. There’s a certain amount of accountability that you have to take, and unfortunately we’re not where we want to be, and he’s paying the price for it.”
Head coach Frank Klopas (pictured at right) will fully assume his director of player personnel duties and will have the responsibility to “tweak this team according to what he feels he needs to be more competitive in the remainder of this season, the 2014 CONCACAF Champions League and the 2015 season,” Saputo explained.
The Impact owner says he is committed to seeing out Klopas’ two-year deal with an option for one more.
“[Klopas] has been there before,” Saputo said. “He’s had some success at it before, so I see no reason as to changing Frank at this particular point in time. I want to give him the opportunity to build the club that he wants to build.”
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The Impact will not be looking for a new sporting director yet, as the club is restructuring its administrative and technical departments. De Santis will be given an administrative role unrelated to the technical team.
De Santis has actually been less involved in technical team matters for about a month, at Saputo’s request. It was thus Klopas who asked for Tuesday’s Dilly Duka-Sanna Nyassi trade to be made.
Saputo hinted at further moves, likely at defensive midfield.
“This is something that the technical team has been working on,” Saputo said. “There’s a couple of other players that we’re looking at. Again, understand that they’re not DP status. But they’re players that could strengthen the club at certain positions that, we feel, need to be strengthened.”