December 31, 2020
Bob Ratcliffe: "Our objectives haven't changed"
In an interview with Nice-Matin published this Thursday, Bob Ratcliffe, CEO of INEOS Football spoke at length about the INEOS project, the first part of the Gym's season and the news from the rouge et noir club, all the while looking ahead to the future.
"We have learned from our experience at Lausanne. Patience, in sport in general and in football in particular, is a key virtue." From the start, Bob Ratcliffe wanted to be reassuring: "INEOS isn't a company that is prone to panic. Never. We are 12th in L1 and there is still a lot of the season to be played." He then reminded people of the successes since the start of the project: "Look at the previous season: the results launched the project of INEOS football. Undoubtedly we were a little bit ahead of where we expected to be. We qualified for the Europa League. I know we were knocked out prematurely, and nobody is happy about that. But all the same, we played in Europe. The project also has a global vision: we see Brazao and Guessand who are playing for Lausanne and who are gaining experience of professional football in a good league. In the other direction young Dan Ndoye is showing great enthusiasm. We can also note the quality of players trained up at RC Abidjan who are starting to emerge, notably at Lausanne. You will have understood that our three clubs work together. There are bridges between the clubs and common goals. This is what we need to do in order to compete with the top clubs. We must put our faith in young players, push them on to a better level, and of course sometimes sell them. But our model isn't a trading model. Our mission is to have the three clubs working together in order to develop players and make this a long-term project."
"There will be opportunities for us in 2021"
At Nice, the CEO of INEOS Football is delighted with the working relationship with Julien Fournier, INEOS Director of Football, and Jean-Pierre Rivère, the President of OGC Nice: "Our relationship is excellent. I speak regularly with Julien on the phone. I also spend quite a lot of time with Jean-Pierre when I'm in Nice. When we were first interested in the club, we soon realised the calibre of the people we were dealing with. Jean-Pierre and Julien have already done a lot of things for the club. They are good people in order for the club to grow even more. The president has links with the LFP and with the world of football, as well as with the mayor of Nice. The director of football has solid experience in terms of negotiations and in identifying the profiles of players. Their presence was a huge part of our desire to purchase the club and nothing has changed."
And Bob Ratcliffe called for patience: "Our objectives haven't changed, and this is only our second season in control of OGC Nice. No project can reach maturity that quickly. We're not going to go out and buy big names, as that wouldn't make it a virtuous circle. It would allow us to achieve certain things, but not to build something for the long term. We have to put our energies into the Academy. We need to build for the future." In order to fulfil these objectives, Bob Ratcliffe restated his faith in his players: "In my opinion, we have a quality squad. Yes, we are disappointed by the European campaign and certain players haven't performed to the level we hoped. Others haven't really progressed. The injury to Dante was a real tough blow. We miss him on the pitch and off it. Despite everything, I see encouraging signs. There will be opportunities for us in 2021."
"The best coach for the Gym is on the bench"
Beyond the injury to the Brazilian captain, Bob Ratcliffe points to another reason to explain the difficulties endured by the Gym this season: "Our starting eleven has been too often shaken up, because of injury or because of other reasons. A team needs to know each other. In our team, the starters change too often. The youngsters are learning. They need to play regularly. That's how they will learn and progress."
The departure of Patrick Vieira, replaced by Adrian Ursea, was spoken about by Bob Ratcliffe. Having underlined the work put in by the 1998 world champion, he said: "We have great respect for Patrick (Vieira). He brought a lot to the club. He attracted very good players and always gave 100% of what he had to offer to OGC Nice." Bob Ratcliffe spoke about his succession: "Today, the best coach for the Gym is on the bench. For the future, we'll see who is the best candidate. We don't need a big name, we need a coach whose qualities perfectly correspond to the club. We've known Adrian Ursea for a long time. He is someone who is discreet and has great qualities, and great knowledge. We're delighted that Adrian has accepted the role for this season. There's also Fred Gioria, perfect in the role of working alongside him, but also a new fitness coach (Nicolas Dyon) and the support of Didier Digard. The new coaching team needs time but we have already seen changes."
Finally, as we prepare to enter a new year, Bob Ratcliffe made his wishes for 2021: "To improve our results. Personally I want to see our supporters soon able to come back to the stadium in order to see victories and beautiful football."