The frustration of Neymar, Messi and Mbappe with the draw that Paris Saint-Germain suffered against Reims in the match valid for the French Championship, last Sunday, contrasts with the excitement of the opposing coach. Will Still, at 30 and the youngest coach in Europe’s major leagues, was absolutely delighted with Balogun’s goal and celebrated the result away from home in another important chapter in his short but intriguing career on the sidelines.
Born in Belgium after his parents left the UK, he remained a player until the age of 17, but switched from football to school to become a coach. The decision took into account the passion for Football Manager, a popular game for many years in which the user manages a football team and makes strategic decisions both on and off the field. He moved to England to study at Myerscove College, Preston, and there began an apprenticeship coaching the Preston North End under-14 team.
“I was obsessed with this game. Her brother and I played it relentlessly – we weren’t allowed to use a PlayStation, so we played Football Manager on the family computer,” he told Coaches’ Voice. “I never thought a football manager would affect my career in real life, but now that I think about it, it definitely has.”
Years later, in 2014, he returned to Belgium looking for a job in the region, but received many negative responses. Finally, the opportunity came to be a video analyst at little Sint-Truiden. It was coach Yannick Ferreira who gave him his first chance and then took advantage of it when he was hired by Standard Liège, one of the most traditional teams in the country.
In 2017, he was an assistant coach at Lersee, in the second division, and had his first experience as a coach, when he held the position temporarily and won 20 out of a possible 27 points.
He gathered more experiences as an assistant to some teams before going to French football. At the beginning of the season, he was already an assistant at Reims. In October last year, he became interim coach after the resignation of Oscar García, and the following month, he was finally confirmed assuming the position. To date, there are 12 invincibles. The team climbed the French championship table and today occupies the eleventh place.
“I want the team to create problems for the opposition, for us to win the ball back in attack to make life difficult for them. It requires an almost superhuman effort and I’m aware of that, but it’s a risk we’re willing to take. Because we want to play ‘positive’ football and get away from our goal.” As much as possible “.
The problem is that he does not have the necessary credentials (Uefa Pro License) to train in the French Championship. Therefore, the club must pay a fine of 25,000 euros (about R$ 140,000) for each match in which he is on the edge of the field. “Well, the good thing was, in a way, the negotiation. The club said: ‘We are ready to invest in your career, as long as you keep winning,’” he told daily Mail.
Will, who has brothers Edward and Nico as coach and assistant in Eupen in the Belgian League, explained his strategy to stop Paris Saint-Germain, who has international stars and leads the French League with 22 points more than Reims. “He was closing the midfield and forcing them to come back and play goalkeeper Donnarumma, which put them in as much discomfort as possible,” he said. “Reims have shown that they want to play, press and have fun. We are on a good path.”
Regarding his influences, Will said Alex Ferguson is his biggest reference. “I try to get the best out of many coaches: Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho, Eddie Howe… On the tactical side, there’s Sir Alex Ferguson, my real role model,” L’Equipe.
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