MONTREAL — Mauro Biello has the Montreal Impact in his blood and wants to inject that local pride and enthusiasm into the fading team.
The 43-year-old Montreal native, with the club since it was founded in 1993, will try to "change the mentality" of the 8-11-4 Impact heading into the final 11 games of the Major League Soccer regular season.
Biello was named interim head coach when Frank Klopas was fired early Sunday morning after a 2-1 defeat in Toronto.
"I think we're just missing that little bit to get us to the next step, but it's encouraging," Biello said Monday. "When I see teams come in here and put 11 players behind the ball, that tells me they have a ton of respect for us.
"Now my main job is to inject some confidence in the group and make them believe we're a very good team and that if we put our minds together we'll be successful."
The Impact looked to be in a solid position when they won 3-2 at New York City on August 1, but then they went 0-2-1 in three home games, including consecutive 1-0 defeats to D.C. United and Philadelphia, before losing the Voyageurs Cup final in Vancouver and falling again to rival TFC.
That prompted club management to fire second-year coach Klopas, who seemed out of ideas on how to get the attack on track.
Biello has 11 regular season games to sort it out and get them into the playoffs for only the second time in four MLS campaigns, starting Saturday at home against last-place Chicago.
It won't be an easy start with top playmaker Ignacio Piatti nursing a calf injury and Laurent Ciman, the anchor on defence, with Belgium on international duty.
But former Chelsea star Didier Drogba, who missed two games with a sore toe, may be ready to return.
Biello, the team's fourth head coach in as many MLS seasons, has stepped in before when predecessors Jesse Marsch, Marco Schallibaum and Klopas were suspended, but this will be his first real shot at being the main man.
If the team falls short, he will likely be replaced and his future in coaching will be in doubt, but if it works, he could shake off the "interim" tag for 2016.
One thing on his side is that he is unlikely to get in any wars with upper management, as he, team owner Joey Saputo and technical director Nick De Santis all go back to the beginning of the franchise.
"I know exactly what I'm getting into," said Biello. "I know what the role and the lifespan of a coach is.
"But I feel this opportunity is there for me now and I'm going to take it, and we'll see whatever happens in the future. Now, I'll focus on trying to make things work."
On the field, Biello hopes to be less predictable on attack, less married to the 4-2-3-1 formation and less reliant on goals off the counterattack.
But mostly, he wants positive thinking. He's confident the club has the talent to win, but the players need to believe in themselves and take pride in wearing the Impact colours. He said the team has the owner, the stadium, the training centre, the academy and the fan support to be a top MLS club
"I'm someone who's going to think before I react," he said. "I'll reflect and try to come up with what I think is the best solution for that moment.
"I'm someone that is very positive, that is going to push, that believes and perseveres. I was like that as a player and I'll be like that as a coach."
Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press