Watching them harangue their troops from the sideline, able to get out of the game a world champion in delicacy or endure the pressure of the supporters, the press and their president, we end up forgetting that football coaches have a soul, sensitivity and above all a… family.
The flight to Varennes by Raymond Domenech
Children, wives, parents, that’s where the shoe pinches when everything goes wrong. “The hardest part of this job is to make your loved ones suffer”, confesses Raymond Domenech, coach hated by the whole of France after the fiasco of the 2010 World Cup, as a preamble to Coaches, intimate confessions, Sébastien Tarrago’s documentary broadcast this Tuesday, October 6 on L’Équipe (1). The story is known, the flight by car, not in Varennes, but in Auvergne, to escape the pack of paparazzi, to the chagrin of his famous wife, the television journalist Estelle Denis. Who feared for her children in school and hoped for months “The day Raymond’s name no longer appears in the newspapers”.
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All the coaches, and not the least, Rudi Garcia, Laurent Blanc, Paul Le Guen, Gérard Houllier, bear witness to these painful ups and downs. These turbulences are inherent in the profession of coach, the first fuse in any club or national team. Everyone knows the rules of the game, ready to jump in the first storm, not necessarily linked to their performance in the field.
Witness, the misadventure of Luis Fernandez, stuck between his sporting demands leading him not to select Ronaldhino in bad shape when he was leading PSG. And those of its president wanting to see the Brazilian on the ground regardless of his level, in the hope of selling him as well as possible as quickly as possible.
Gérard Houllier’s heart attack
Some have been seasoned in the exercise by a high-level playing career, but this is not always the case. Some almost died there, like Pascal Dupraz, current coach of Caen (Ligue 2), who suffered the first of his three infarcts at 39 years old. The same goes for Gérard Houllier, who almost died on the lawn of Anfield Road, while he was leading Liverpool.
The danger, partly offset by high salaries and serious benefits at the highest level, also lurks in the lower divisions. The testimony of Nicolas Cloarec, boss of Concarneau (National) for ten years before being the victim of a burnout is edifying. Like the rage to win and the dozens of cigarettes smoked by Bruno Luzi, boss of Chambly, a small club in the Oise that he hoisted in Ligue 2 with the strength of his wrists alone.
This documentary, which gives protagonists a long time, who are rarely questioned about themselves, emphasizes one of the great difficulties of this profession. “You have to love your players, but at the same time you only have eleven places on the field, so you will inevitably be unhappy”, explains Paul Le Guen, who has a secondary career in Le Havre, after having known Lyon and Paris SG. “One day, a friend who played in the small team I was coaching warned me to get used to being considered a bastard”, continues Gérard Houllier.
The phone that no longer rings
And then there is sometimes the fall, unemployment. Brutally dismissed from Paris SG, after having managed Bordeaux and the French team, Laurent Blanc is an eternal called-up never elected as soon as a prestigious position becomes available. Victim of an image of dilettante, the former libero world champion in 1998 confesses his frustration: “Of course it hurts, especially when you know it’s not true, but life is too short to moan over your phone that no longer rings.” But the smell of the lawn is still missing. “