"We need to up our game in terms of quality, commitment and maturity"
An interview with the new National 3 coach
PHILIPPE LUCAS - Friday, July 14, 2017 - 10:50
Philippe Lucas, the newly-appointed coach of the National 3 squad, speaks to girondins.com
girondins.com: Hello Philippe, you're moving up from the U16 team to the National 3 squad, does that mean you're moving from the Academy to the post-Academy phase ?
Philippe Lucas: I also coached the U19s for 15 years, it's not much different. Half of the squad are still under 19, so they're virtually the same age. But spending time with the U16s definitely helped me to recharge and refresh a bit, especially as there's less travelling involved. When you're doing a 15-hour round trip on the bus to play in Brest, after a while it gets… So this is a change, but it's not exactly new to me.
girondins.com: You're dealing with a very young squad in a very demanding league, with many of them playing in this division for the first time. What do they need to do in order to succeed against much older players?
Philippe Lucas: They need to learn to be more mature, stronger mentally. They need to work hard and listen to what they're told, without losing track of what they already know. They also need to develop physically, and become more intelligent in the way they approach and handle one-on-ones on the pitch. They'll be up against some experienced players, lads who have been around a bit, who know how to make life hard for them. They need to learn, that's the whole point of this division: for them to measure themselves against older players. The real thing they develop in this league is maturity.
girondins.com: Is the main objective to help the young players progress and prepare them to turn professional, or to get back up into National 2 as quickly as possible, as some of the fans would like to see?
Philippe Lucas: Our number one objective is training. That means making sure the boys are as ready as they can possible be if one day the first team manager comes calling for them. Our role is to provide players for the first team when needed. At the moment, a lot of the professional players are graduates of the club's academy. Now we want to see them starting every week. That means upping our game in terms of quality, commitment and maturity. When the lads are called up to the first team they can't be afraid, or else what are they going to do with 40,000 people watching them? They need to be able to adapt very quickly to what the first team coach expects to see. There are a lot of areas to work on, and our job is to prepare the players for that challenge on a day-to-day basis, on the pitch and off.
We need to up our game in terms of quality, commitment and maturity
Then again, obviously if you have a quality squad - which we do - and you work hard, you've got a better chance of winning games. And if you win a lot of games, you've got a better chance of fighting for promotion. That's not our main objective, but if the opportunity arises we won't turn it down. National 2 is the next level, and so when players come down to us from the first team they'd be playing at a higher level. That's good for everybody.
girondins.com: Jocelyn Gourvennec keeps a close eye on the reserves. In your discussions, does he ask you to work on specific areas of the game?
Philippe Lucas: He gives his input, of course. But he trusts us to do our job. He just asks us to make sure that the players are ready if they're ever needed.
girondins.com: You have a new deputy coach in the form of Matthieu Chalmé. What does he bring to the table? Or is it more a matter of you helping him to progress as a coach?
Philippe Lucas: I'm always open to sharing my experience as a coach. In his head Matthieu is still a player, even if he's one of us now. I went through the same thing when I crossed over into coaching. He's part of the next generation, he was playing until very recently. It's good to have that combination of a recent ex-player and myself, being a little bit older. I know just what a strong figure he was in the dressing room, as a player, and I know he can bring a lot to our young players in terms of hard work and commitment. He knows the meaning of hard work, he's done plenty of it. We all know what it takes to make it to the top, and that starts with giving yourself the best chance possible.
In his head Matthieu is still a player, even if he's one of us now.
You ask the young players "who wants to be a professional?" and they all do. But ask how many of them are doing everything in their power to get there, and there's not so many. We need to give them that spirit, to help them understand what they're doing here. This isn't any old club, this is the Girondins de Bordeaux, it's an incredible opportunity. A lot of players don't realise that until they leave the club, they don't quite get it while they're here. They need to build their own momentum, and everything we do is about helping them achieve that. Our goal is for as many of these players as possible to turn professional, with all the skills they need to succeed.
Thank you Philippe, and best of luck for the new season in National 3!