Girard thrilled with Lille deal
LOSC Lille Métropole have announced René Girard as their new first-team coach, the ex-Montpellier boss having signed a three-year deal to replace Rudi Garcia, who quit the club for Italian side AS Roma earlier in the week.
At his presentation to the press on Saturday afternoon, new Lille coach René Girard declared that he is "very happy" with his new post and that he is looking forward to the challenges that await him.
Girard: 'We'll have a great team"
"Lille are a top-five club. After Montpellier, I couldn't have hoped for a better opportunity," he said, upbeat despite the number of rumoured player departures from the squad this summer.
"I know that we'll have great team next season. Some deals need to be done in the best interests of the club, but we can still work hard. The squad will be a competitive one. The situation is similar to what I experienced with Montpellier, when I had to bring in a lot of young players. But the big difference is that Lille has a big head-start on Montpellier."
Pick of the bunch
Although there have been a host of experienced Ligue 1 coaches looking for new posts this summer, former France U-21 boss Girard was the one to catch the eye of Lille president Michel Seydoux.
"I knew of him as a coach, a developer of young talent, a technician and a man with a winning record," explained Seydoux after Girard inked the three-year deal on Friday. "I've had the pleasure of meeting a man of great quality; passionate, sound and with a strong work ethic. With LOSC's best interests in mind, I'm proud and happy to see René join our club."
A good fit
Like his predecessor Garcia, Girard is no stranger to the concepts of long-term development and canny player transfer deals. His side beat big-spending Paris Saint-Germain to the Ligue 1 title in 2011-12 - on a comparatively shoestring budget - with a mix of homegrown talent and new signings whose quality belied their modest transfer fees just two seasons after having guided the club back into France's top flight.
This special skill set makes him an excellent fit for LOSC, who under Seydoux's presidency have championed sustainable long-term growth, developing from a 'selling' club to one that claimed a spectacular league-and-cup double in 2011 and now plays in a brand-new stadium with a five-star UEFA ranking.
Girard will enjoy a family connection at Lille, with his son Nicolas - who was team physiotherapist at Montpellier - set to fulfil assistant coaching duties, possibly alongside Claude Fichaux, who has been at the club since signing on as Garcia's second assistant coach in 2009.