Columbus Crew GM outlines why it was 'impossible' not to hire Wilfried Nancy

Chris Smith
Nancy was the Crew's top target.
Nancy was the Crew's top target. / Doral Chenoweth/The Columbus Dispatch /

From the moment Caleb Porter cleared his office, the Columbus Crew only ever had their sights set on one man: Wilfried Nancy.

The Frenchman worked wonders as head coach of CF Montreal after taking over from Thierry Henry in March 2021, lifting the 2021 Canadian Championship and leading the club all the way up to second in the Eastern Conference last season.

Overall, Nancy enjoyed a 37-25-17 record at Saputo Stadium but with a number of key players leaving this winter, including Djordje Mihailovic, Victor Wanyama, Alistair Johnston, and Ismael Kone, it was always going to be tough convincing him to stay.

For Columbus, that gave them a straight shot at their top target.

"What Wil has done with his prior club over the last two years, it would be impossible for him not to be the guy," Columbus president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko told reporters at Nancy's unveiling.

"You start with the team that had some players that other teams had passed [on]. You saw a person take those players and, you know, use that term 'Coach them up' to really get a cohesive unit, to see them work together, really play for something bigger than themselves."

Bezbatchenko added: "The way that they played, it was attractive, it was entertaining, they were scoring goals, they had the ability to dictate the game."

Equally, Nancy finds himself in a project purely focussed on growth and building for the future.

Whereas his Montreal team was stripped for parts following a period of success, his focus in Columbus will be to build a 'legacy' for the future at their state-of-the-art Field stadium which debuted in 2022.

"When I came to the stadium [ Field] for the first time, when I stepped on the field, I got goosebumps. Simple as that," Nancy said. "I come from Europe, and this stadium is better than some stadiums in Europe. The crowd, the way the stadium is."

On the project awaiting him in Ohio, Nancy added: "We have to win games, but we need to develop people to leave ... a legacy for the future. That's why developing players is really important.

"... For me, in terms of MLS, this is one of the clubs, or maybe the club. There's everything to do something great. So that's why I came."

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