MONTREAL – Mauro Biello’s confidence impressed Joey Saputo.
The Montreal Impact president is very familiar with Biello, who has been with the team for two decades as a player or a coach. But when Saputo offered him the interim head-coaching job in late August with the team below the red line, he understood that it wasn’t just a challenging task. It was a risky one.
Had Biello failed to right the Impact ship, he would have, as Saputo put it Friday morning, “burned” the opportunity he had patiently waited for since he joined the Impact technical staff as an assistant coach in 2009.
“But when I got the chance to talk to him, he was confident,” Saputo told reporters in the Impact’s second postseason press conference. “He was sure of himself. He knew this situation could hurt him. But he took it anyway. At that point, I hoped things would go well for him because I told myself this was the ideal person to keep leading this team.”
Biello proved Saputo right. He steered Montreal into the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs. The Impact’s run ended last Sunday, in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but there was more than mere results working in Biello’s favor: the mentality, the squad management, the flexibility.
Biello’s reward was a three-year deal, announced Friday morning.
“For me to be able to lead this team now as the head coach, it’s an incredible moment for me,” Biello said. “I’m so proud to be part of this organization. It’s been a lot of hard work, and I just want to continue.”
Biello also inherited previous head coach Frank Klopas’ director of player personnel job title. Saputo, arguing that the new coach understands “better than anyone” the Impact’s philosophy, the expectations and the market’s reality, said Biello would have “carte blanche” over player- and staff-related decisions.
Biello had already put his touch on the staff, bringing in homegrown talent Jason Di Tullio as assistant coach. Friday’s appointment was a consecration of Saputo’s idea that the club should not only develop players, but also coaches.
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“Mauro has been with us 23 years,” Saputo said. “For me, there’s no limit when it comes to his role as coach or within this organization. This is not a standard contract – two, three, four, five years, options, etc. I see Mauro as a part of this organization. He’ll have his chance. … We’ll work together to build and keep building. We’ll give him patience and time to put together what he wants to put together.”
Players were as praiseful of Biello as the front office was – and none more so than Didier Drogba.
“Mauro underestimates what he has done,” Drogba said. “He got those results, and he only owes it to himself, to his capacity to adapt to the group, to respond to the president’s and Nick [De Santis’] expectations, to unite a group where I came in thinking, ‘What is going on here?’ Credit is his, and all his. The president understood that very well and offered him this job. I’m really happy to work with him, to have that leader on my team. We, the players, serve him.”