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J-P. Rivère: "This season needs to serve as a lesson"

Interview

May 29, 2021

J-P. Rivère: "This season needs to serve as a lesson"

The president Rivère gives a review of the 2020-21 season as well as on overview of what’s ahead.

What feeling have you been left with after this season?

There are several. There are the results on the pitch that weren't in line with our objectives. We suffered a series of injuries and moments that turned against us. There is also the economic situation, which is extremely complicated. And then, these empty grounds… Playing football in these conditions is terrible.

Were you worried at any stage? Worried that the team may be sucked into a relegation battle for example?

I wouldn't use the term worried. But we did need to be very vigilant, yes. It would have been dangerous not to be.

With the benefit of hindsight, did the change of coach come at the right time? Too late? Too early?

Changing coach in the middle of the season is never the right time. It's not pleasant on a human level. It's always a bit of a violent move. Everyone knows that at OGC Nice, this is not way in which we like to work.

"The match that I will remember is Lyon"

The team put in its best performances towards the end of the season. Marseille, Montpellier, Lyon... How would you explain that?

It validates the decision that was taken. And it also shines a light on what could come next season. As the season went by, some players started to shine. It's good. This season needs to serve as a lesson for what is to come. The match that I will remember is Lyon. I want to think that this last performance is the first of next season.

In the statement, the whole of the club thanked Adrian Ursea. On a personal level, why would you like to say thank you to him today?

He is a remarkable person. We remained in touch when he left the club. He then came back in a different role, before accepting this mission at the end of last year. He accomplished that mission perfectly with his coaching staff. Their commitment was exemplary. They gave their very best so that we could get back that pleasure from the game, and in order to get back the qualities that some players had pretty much lost. They accomplished their mission.

It's even more commendable given that the mission was to come to an end at the end of the season…

Knowing that a mission has an end date is never easy. And in addition to that, there was the urgency to pick up results. But even though we had some difficulties at the outset, we remained true to our philosophy. There was no turbulence in those difficult first few weeks. Quite the opposite, the club remained very united.

So, it's true that the situation to start with wasn't easy, but it was also an opportunity for Adri' to show other qualities beyond those that we already knew he had as an assistant manager. We hope that this new experience as a number one will open the doors that deserve to be opened for him.

"Jim and Bob know that all projects take time to be put in place"

From a financial point of view, how does the club end this season?

Like all French clubs. Covid has really damaged European football. No side has escaped it. And in France, we had the double penalty with the famous TV rights which mean that the impact is even greater for each club.

To what extent would the club have been in trouble without INEOS?

We have the same losses as everyone else in France, but INEOS allows us to look to the future without the worry that other clubs unfortunately are experiencing today. If we had remained with the previous owners, the club would be in real, real, real trouble as we speak now. We are lucky to have an excellent owner. Jim and Bob know that all projects take time to be put in place. The relationship that we have with them is excellent.

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The difficulties at home?

Everyone experienced the same thing. But for the clubs where there is a real 12th man, they have really struggled with games being played behind closed doors. The stats show that. When you are in the stadium, in front of your fans, your supporters are there to push you on, to go above and beyond when things get tough, it's not the same. The motivation is there for the players but playing in an empty stadium is nothing like playing in a stadium that drives you forward. We can't wait to be back with our 12th man…

“The manager will come here because he likes the project, not for the money”

What happens on the field is what’s most important obviously, but you also often speak about the work done behind the scenes to continue the club’s growth. Was that the case once more last season?

In the past we had very good results that weren’t in line with our budget or our infrastructures. But today we’ve put the foundations in place. It’s vital to have that. Of course, from the outside the only thing that’s remembered is the position in the table and the results. And we are disappointed with 9th place whereas not so long ago that would have been a good season for OGC Nice. It’s a disappointment but it also shows the journey we’ve been on. And also the hard work that has been done. No one can now ignore the fact we’ve now got the infrastructure to succeed here.

We sometimes read that Nice can attract managers by offering to triple their salary…  

People don’t know the world of football or they just imagine things. The financial aspect is not at all a coach’s main motive, apart from in some exotic countries. Not in France. So we’re not intending on spending a fortune to attract a coach, whoever he might be, that would only come for money. That wouldn’t make any sense to us. The manager who comes will come because he likes the project.

The manager is THE talking point at the moment…

I know that everyone is waiting for the name. But I’m not making any comments about that. This period may seem a bit blurry for our fans, but they should be reassured. We’re calm because we know where we want to go because we didn’t just wait for last work to start working on it. By anticipating things correctly it becomes much easier.  

It was a tough season. Does that mean that you are going to overhaul the team this summer? Will there be a lot of deals?

No. One thing’s for sure the transfer window will be very difficult for all clubs because the economic situation doesn’t bode well for a normal transfer market. That can bring some extra difficulties. From our point of view the moves we need to do have been identified to be able to continue building our team long term. Our wish is to improve an already solid base.

See you on 16 June…

How do you feel about the fans returning?

The information that we’ve got indicates that there will no longer be a limit (for fans attending) from 30 June. That’s great news. Even if there will obviously be some sanitary constraints.

The club is gearing up to launching the season ticket campaign. In such a different world will it be the usual system?

No. Our preoccupation in these long months without fans has been preparing for the future. And taking into account the economic impact of this sanitary crisis. We understand that buying a membership still has a cost. And when you’ve got economic difficulties that cost is not always easy to pay.
The foundations of "MonGymMaFamille", are about finding the best solutions together so that everyone can continue on this adventure coming to the stadium. On 16 June we’ll share the result of our thinking. It aims to make sure that our fans can, without changing their day-to-day life, think that the season ticket is not that big of an expense for them because of all the advantages we’re going to offer them. So that we can have them all with us in this fantastic season.