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Coaches, organisation, preseason: Manu Pires updates us

Interview (part ii)

June 9, 2021

Coaches, organisation, preseason: Manu Pires updates us

After sharing his analysis of academy player transfers, Manu Pires joins us again to discuss the organisation of the club’s youth academy for the 2021-22 season.

The first changes this season concerns the reserves (N3), with Didier Digard named head coach… 

He started as assistant coach with the U17s when he passed his coaching badges, he is a passionate boy, who has learned a lot. The needs of the first team meant he was assistant to Adrian (Ursea) with the pros. His desire, his determination, his qualities as a leader of men but also as a technician contributed a lot to the first team. Like the rest of the coaching staff, he succeeded in his mission, playing a big role in that success. He's been on a steep learning curve over the last six months. The club wants to invest in the club's youth coaches, starting with internal promotions. Didier is going to take charge of the reserves (N3) to get used to being the head coach. There is no correct career path: if we put him there, it's because we think he has the ability.

Life in an academy, is also about departures and that’s the case for Emerse Fae...

Departures are always sad, but Emerse has another adventure ahead of him. He did his job until with professionalism and honesty right to the end. He was an emblematic player of OGC Nice and he transmitted his desire and commitment to many young players. His adventure is over at Nice (he will be replaced at the head of the U19s by Johann Louvel, together with Cédric Varrault), but he deserves to have a project worthy of his qualities. He leaves the club with his head held high, leaving good memories behind, just like Arthur Leblanc (physical trainer of the U17s) who is leaving the club for a personal project abroad. He is an example. I'm not worried about his future, and I thank him for his work. It's quite special for me, because I knew him as a young player in the academy (he won the Gambardella Cup in 2012). He will be replaced by Maxime Verdier, who also passed through the academy as a player.


Dante, for his part, will return to being a player...

We're bound to see each other again! He is moving between the two worlds. You know, when a player of Dante's stature steps into the corridors of the youth academy, it spreads good vibes. When a player of his caliber talks to the coaches, comes to coach the U17s, the defenders, it's an invaluable experience. It would be good if the majority of our boys could identify with OGC Nice but also with example of Dante, who is incredibly humble and energetic. He's a hard worker, and that's why he had the career he had. Our young players should be inspired by him. He's really a great guy.

In terms of training, will you be continuing to divide it into two groups? 

Yes, with the U17s in the "training" group and the U19s and N3s in the "reserve" squad. The philosophy remains the same: we have a style of play and a methodology with the aim of developing our players, who must be ready to move up to the first team squad. We will have a direct relationship with the first-team coaching staff to meet the expectations of the first team.
What’s happening during the off-season?

Everything is set for the summer. The reserve team will play in the Ploufragan Tournament (last weekend of July), and all the friendly matches are almost confirmed. Am I getting excited? I don't want to get too excited so as not to be disappointed. It's been a very long wait for everyone because of the global pandemic, the players have suffered a lot, and so have we, but we'll wait until the championships start again to really believe that things are back to normal. We're always keeping an eye on the situation, and we're measured in our emotions, but we are looking forward to getting back to work

F.H. (Photos J-M.P.)


Behind the scenes, OGC Nice is working hard to build strong links with other clubs in the region. "We all come from the world of amateur football. A professional club must return the favour. We have human resources, knowledge, tools, and we try to share them with our partner clubs. We have had a fantastic response and many clubs are delighted with the initiative. A process is underway, and these exchanges will bear fruit in the coming years," explained Manu Pirès, happy to be able to "unite football around OGC Nice. We want the players to identify with the club and its supporters. When there is the OGC Nice logo in a partner amateur club, there is already a feeling of belonging to Le Gym. We have to open the doors of the youth academy. We're not here to teach the only way to learn football, but rather to share our ideas with them. It's beneficial for everyone."