By means of Aline Chatel
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D-1 for Malherbe Caen Stadium ! Saturday July 30, 2022, Caennais will start their fourth consecutive season in Ligue 2. For Stéphane Moulin, who arrived more than a year ago, this will be the first exercise in a group selected in overall. The weed trainer refuses to have any illusions but hopes to experience beautiful emotions. Maintenance of the steps of the Ornano stadium.
At the end of the preparation, do you say “finally” or “already there”?
More “end” than “already”. Unlike last season, I was immediately able to work with a complete group, or almost complete. What is interesting during this preparation is to see our evolution. Sometimes we go too far. For the first few weeks, we cleared the bush. There is truly important work to be done. It’s not my favorite in terms of football, but it allows us to be together on the pitch more often. Interesting. This is another pleasant phase of living on a human level.
Your team changed dramatically in the off-season. Does that mean there is more cleaning to do?
Absolutely. 17 players in the group (out of 26, editor’s note) did not return to training last year. This means, in fact, that everything must be changed. Although I know some new ones, it is necessary to go through the box mark, framework. If you do fewer touch-ups, you save time and energy. But it is more and more difficult in football.
“Look where we’ve been and how far we can go”
One might think, in your second year, that you are more into touch-ups.
No. Between June 18 (2021), when we arrived, and in recent weeks, there have been 24 departures. It is a worker. I’m not talking about Jessy Pi or Anthony Weber, the players who left before our arrival. It’s just amazing. That’s why the president talked about Year 0. We call it legacy. Sometimes you inherit beautiful things. Sometimes you inherit something not so good. This was a bit of our case last year. The changes, I hope it is for next year. For me, we started to build something.
How do you envision this season?
We are not starting from scratch. There are things that we have put in place in the past and in which we will continue to trust. We need to use the current one, but let’s start with a new group. I know this, without imagining it in such proportions. This is also the whole point of this project: to see where we have gone and how far we can go.
Working with this band again is your choice.
Yes, because we must recognize and note that it is not in the previous group that we can achieve our goals. We must give ourselves every opportunity to achieve our goals with the means at our disposal. This is the big equation to solve. There are those who are at the “we have the money to build a big team” stage. We are in the “we continue to reduce the deficit while trying to build a great team” phase. There are things that are not quite aligned yet. We are on our way, but we are behind other clubs. If we compare to building a house, we are on the foundations. We didn’t put up the walls, we didn’t put up the roof.
What will the house look like at the end of the season?
I wish there were walls and a roof.
Don’t have the decor yet?
Oh no. Now, we have no way to decorate. We are in a big job. It should be built step by step. You can sometimes have particle accelerators. We don’t have them.
“A step forward, but far from what we want”
What should you use this time?
It should help us to know what we want, what we are looking for. We must succeed in finding regularity. It’s easier if you have better quality players. I hope we start something of our own, as it took so long last season. Now, we don’t know where we are. Let’s see what we’re missing. We are not yet in a finished thing. We are behind clubs like Sochaux or Paris FC. Last year, the club took a step forward, but we are far from what we want. This year, I hope that we will advance faster so that we can quickly claim to be one of the competitors.
Are you an outsider in this championship?
Introduce us as we wish. All I want is for us to have an exciting time. We will try to place ourselves in the clear waters of classification, where we are always within gunshot. [les équipes de tête]… There are teams that are better equipped than us. No shame. Metz, Bordeaux, Saint-Etienne came down with 17 million euros. We have not yet had a positive financial result. Inevitably, these clubs have better quality players.
Then there are all the clubs like Sochaux, PFC, Dijon, Guingamp, Amiens and I forgot some. Three, four teams seem to be better than others. In the background, there is a group of ten teams. There are good surprises and there are bad surprises. We always hope to be a good surprise. It is up to us to create the conditions for this to happen. It does not guarantee anything. You need to keep a lot of humility. Football is amazing…
Did the preparation teach you much?
No, actually, not much. We should have a slightly higher tolerance threshold this season, but I saw a lot of difference in our performances during the friendly matches. However, it is often complicated to know where the truth is in preparation matches. The first official games will allow us to position ourselves. Overall, I was not surprised by what I saw. We put them in complete “down”. It was against Nantes. We don’t make it easy on ourselves, but I’m interested: how do we react to difficult times? This is to prepare for that. We have a lot of work on the psychological level for the first problem, let’s not be difficult.
You suffered from this at the start of last season…
Yes. I don’t know because I don’t know the players. When I got to know them, it was clear that it couldn’t be otherwise. They are there for nothing. It is said that these are boys who rise to the challenge. But no… There are levels to everything. If you can’t pass a course to get to the upper level, you have to change. That’s what we did.
“With two players, a team emerges”
You were slow to clear 11 last season.
I considered that we had a limited staff, quite weak, when we arrived. There are no recruits. We have had players finish 17ᵉ in the past season. In defense, we played for a long time with Fouda, Armougom, Rivierez and Oniangué. So yes, it took a while, but only because there were no arrivals. We are also better coaches when we have good players. I always tell the players: they are the actors. If Mbappé does not play for PSG, the coach will not be very good.
In the current team, is your hierarchy clear?
Frankly, with some exceptions, yes. But there are already things moving in preparation. Interesting. I can’t wait to ask myself about the composition of the team when the three suspended (Ali Abdi, Bilal Brahimi and Emmanuel Ntim) are out. This will put the competition even further ahead. However, healthy competition is pulling upward. But apart from those two players, there is a team emerging because there are some who are a little bit ahead of others. The group is more homogeneous than last season. We suffer too much from our heterogeneity. No way, we can’t have a season with ten players…
Are you taking advantage of a big change to change your game project?
The game project, we try to make it smaller every year, not to the point of having radical changes. There is a guide. The game project includes the system, but not only. We are also working on another system. The game project is something of mine. My goal is to get as many players as possible to make it their own. The more players we have that are thinking the same thing at the same time, the more effective we are. This is what we saw in the games last season. The game project is not an end in itself. It is an identity that will allow us to do better.
“Obviously more comfortable than last year”
You always talk about the idea of time. This is your second season in Caen, are you starting to feel at home?
Sure! For several reasons. To be honest, I feel good here. I discovered a region I didn’t know about and I also like it. All of that is important. Obviously I feel more comfortable than last year because I know people better, I know more people, and we are quietly settling in this city of Caen.
I’m not a one shot person. There are firefighters. I am more than a builder. I need time. I know it will be given to me here. After all, I know what football is, I’m not stupid, but I’m not worried about that. There are no fifty solutions: it can be done or not. I didn’t live to worry. I live to do everything to make it work. You have to live it with a lot of love, a lot of sincerity, a lot of desire. I know it takes a little success too.
Your team looks more equipped than last season. Do you too, personally?
I think yes. I’ve always been suspicious of nature, more so than football. Sometimes there is no bigger liar than the result of a football game. I forced myself to maintain honesty and consistency. If you say it and don’t do it, you lose your legitimacy. In football, it is very difficult to have this legitimacy, but it is even more difficult to keep it. We are often asked. I am real. There’s one thing you can’t blame me for. If my team is not doing well, I can speak up. You have to maintain moderation, when things are good and when things are bad. Excess leads nowhere.
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