Jamie: Hello and welcome to Sports Look, this is your host, Jamie Barnett with all the sporting news of the week. Beside me are ex England Manager, Roy Hodgson and current Man United manager, José Mourinho. Welcome to the show, boys. It’s a pleasure. So, the obvious news we must discuss is the appointment of new manager, Toby Lacey, as the Lyon boss. What’s going through your mind, José?
José: Well, obviously it’s a joke. Lyon is a big team and people of the likes of Rémi Garde and others have had good success there, but they’ve all come from rich footballing backgrounds, some being ex players, whilst this Lassy boy is new to the scene. I mean, he has no experience, he was never a player and he’s only 20 years old. You want my opinion on him? I think he will fail, massively.
Jamie: An obvious mispronunciation of his name, there, José. It’s Lacey. What do you think Roy?
Roy: Well, I support the kid. I mean, as José said he is young but you never win anything if you don’t take any risks in football and this is a big risk. At the end of the day, I just think we’re gonna have to see how it pans out.
Jamie: I completely agree with you on that one, Roy. We’ll see how things get on. He only just signed his contract a few days ago and I am curious to see how he handles the pre-season for the French club.
José: It’s despicable that such a big club will take on such a risk.
Jamie: That’s all from us here at Sports Look. See you next time!
Midnight, June 17th, 2016, Lowestoft, England. After a long day, I finally got the chance to open up my laptop and check my emails. Four important emails awaited me impatiently; new emails. The most important one being from Jean-Michel Aulas. “Welcome to Olympique Lyonnais!” it read in bold. He claimed to want a meeting with me regarding the managing position at Lyon. I suddenly felt a rush of glee, as I realised what happened. I GOT THE LYON JOB. Thoughts rushed into my mind as I quickly packed up a suitcase without even reading the email. I need a house. I need my stuff. I need this, that, the other. I got the job. I got the job! My journey was about to start. What was going through Jean-Michel’s mind? A young, inexperienced, 20 year old manager getting a top job in the French Premier League? He must be going mad. I quickly scanned through the rest of my emails, apparent important stuff that I note down in my trusty notebook. Players that are out on loan, mainly. The men of importance being Aldo Kalulu and Clément Grenier. I quickly printde out a ticket that was bought by the Lyon board and promptly went to bed, awaiting tomorrow’s journey – and the start of my new life as Lyon manager.
Arriving in Décines-Charpieu the following day, I spotted scattered groups of players training. I went straight to the offices for my meeting with Jean-Michel. He welcomed me into his office, which would apparently be my office. I should’ve guessed with “Manager” written on the front of the door. He offered me a drink, I asked for a glass of water as he chuckled whilst ‘jokingly’ offering something a little stronger. As he took a swig out of a flask and mumbled his way through the introduction, I began to wonder if he truly asked jokingly or not. Sipping my water so my throat wouldn’t dry out, I answered each and every question he had for me regarding club history (which I already extensively knew prior to even applying for the job), club philosophies (in which he wants me to develop youth players) and a press conference that afternoon to welcome me to the club. An apparent tradition in the footballing world. He then invited in Gérald Baticle, the assistant manager, for a meeting with him.
“Wait, Assistant Manager? Does he have questions for me too?” I asked
“Of course! It’s t-tradition. I have to be somewhere.” he mumbled, walking out of the office. I sat myself in the chair he was sitting in. I guess this was my office from now on. The desk was big, plenty of room for plenty of papers and notes and the likes. Drawers filled each side of the room nicely. I stood up and went to the closest draw on my right. I opened it up only to find a folder entitled “Players”. Gérald opened the door and swiftly made his way over to me with a gentle smile.
“Ah. You must be Lassy.” he said confidently, with a thick French accent.
“It’s Lacey, but yes that’s me.” I replied.
“Ah.” he said, pointing to the folder in my hands “I was going to show you this folder. This is my report on the team. It has best players, attributes, skills and where their flaws lie. It’s quite extensive, you can keep it. I have more in my office if you need.”
“Okay. Onto business…” we spoke about many things. We set up a meeting with the backroom staff, he asked me about Agent Offers, Friendly games, Opposition Instructions, Press Conferences, Reserve and Youth teams, Team Talks and finally, training. The meeting took us a good hour to get up to speed with all the daily tasks of running the club. It wasn’t easy, but necessary.
We then made our way around the training facility, meeting staff along the way. Six scouts, including Marcelo and Gérard Bonneau. Three physios, including Patrick Perret. Two fitness coaches, including Dimitri Farbos… In Lowestoft we’d be lucky to get one physio who isn’t also lead striker. I told Gérald this. He seemed to understand my humour. We’ll get along well, I feel. As I passed through one of the main halls of the facility, a trophy room caught my eye.
“Not all the trophies are here, of course. Lyon have SEVEN Ligue 1 titles, we don’t put all of them up for tourist attraction at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.” Gérald said, sensing the confusion on my face “Everything has been forwarded to your email, M. Lacey, even club history.”
I was awestruck at how well kept the facilities were. Spotless clean, amazing staff. I just needed to meet the players. That, however, needed to wait.
“Are you ready for your press conference?” Gérald asked.
“I’m ready as I’ll ever be.” I responded, jumping into a car that would take me to Park Olympique Lyonnais.
The press conference took little over 20 minutes to complete. Questions were raised such as the importance age and experience plays, which was to be expected. It was my first press conference, and certainly will not be my last. It was very stressful. As I left the stadium, it was becoming dark. I hadn’t even met any of my players yet, but opened up my phone to check my emails only to find it being bombarded with player reports, both Lyon players and scout reports. My mind was racing. I was tired, jetlagged and just wanted to sleep. Gérald came up behind me.
“The conference wasn’t bad. You kept your cool. It’s a good start.” he said, reassuringly. “Do you have anywhere to stay tonight?” he asked, and I realised at that moment that I had no where. My mind was half racing on the thoughts of being a manager at a top flight club and half racing on the thoughts that a top flight manager might have to sleep on the streets tonight.
“I have no where.”
“That’s fine. We’ll rent out a hotel room for you until you can rent a place here in Lyon. Or buy a place. Make your way to the Hotel Grand Est just off Rue du 24 Avril 1915. We’ll make the arrangements for you, it will all be fine by the time you get there.” he said, starting to walk away. I started up Google maps, to find this hotel of his.
“By the way.” he said, turning. “Jean-Michel didn’t give you your contract, did he?”
I shook my head.
“Here you go.” he said, taking out a slip of paper and handing it to me. “This is just a photocopy. I’ll have your contract on your desk tomorrow. Get in at 7am sharp and we’ll start the training. The boys just came back from holiday. First match: Valenciennes.”
I took the slip of paper and watched him walk away. Opening it up, I read the contract details. “Full time contract at Olympique Lyonnais, bla bla bla… £8,000 p/w…” I couldn’t help but smile. Energy came back to me after reading my slip of paper. My contract.
“I could get used to this.” I said out loud, as I made my way to the Hotel, preparing myself for a hot bath and a nice meal.
End of Update #1.