Gourvennec: 'Guingamp aren't where they deserve to be'
Returning EA Guingamp coach Jocelyn Gourvennec spoke on the club's current situation and his plans for the days to come after officially taking the reins of the senior team on Monday.
"Welcome home, Jocelyn!" declared En Avant de Guingamp president Bertrand Desplat as he presented his club's new coach to the media on Monday. Three days after Gourvennec's return - to replace the outgoing Antoine Kombouaré - was announced, the Breton coach refused to be drawn into alarmism as he gave his thoughts on the situation that Ligue 1 Conforama's bottom club currently finds itself in.
Your return to the club is a surprise but it also makes a lot of sense...
"It's not something I was expecting. I'm the type of person who does their best to anticipate things, perhaps to an extreme degree, but I didn't see this coming. But after thinking it over quickly, I thought it was a great choice for me. The club offered me another chance to do what I love, and that's what I wanted. I stopped working in mid-January, at the beginning of the calendar year. The break has been a bit too long - I can't hide that fact - for someone who is so passionate about the job they love, and I was ready for a reasonable proposition. You know that I'm very attached to Guingamp - it's a special club, unique in France."
'Individual meetings with all the players'
How are you planning to get the team back on track?
"In sporting terms, the situation right now is far from ideal, and the ranking is not good. But we're pretty much all in agreement that Guingamp aren't where they deserve to be. I think there is real quality in the squad. There have been injury issues, absences, suspensions and other worries in the squad. In the next two weeks, there will be three main areas of work: training sessions to work on physical conditioning; tactical sessions to explain what I want; and individual meetings with all the players in order to get to know them better and to understand what's in their heads and how they're dealing with the current situation, because they will all need to get out from under it and start being effective."
What do you think hasn't been working for the team?
"It's always easy to draw conclusions form the outside. But what's clear is that when things didn't improve, it wasn't by choice, it was because somewhere, somehow, the machine got jammed up. I think there were a number of matches where there was some bad luck, but there were also some clear mistakes that we will need to stamp out because they have dire consequences. But what happened has happened and I'm not responsible for it; I just want to look ahead and not lament our low ranking or what could have gone better since the start of the season.
'I've already spoken to a few of the lads on the phone'
Have you been in contact with any of the players yet?
"I've already spoken to a few of the lads on the phone and I've seen a couple in the infirmary. It has been decided that we will kick things off with training on Tuesday morning, and that's when I'll meet the entire squad. There will be some absentees, who are away on national team duty, notably Kalle Johnson and Marcus Coco. We have two weeks to prepare for a very interesting and promising match against Reims. I'll get to know the lads bit by bit. There are five players who were here in my previous stint as coach but Iknow all the opther players as well. I've seen the matches and I've been following some players for several seasons."
You're coming back to a club where you enjoy star status - you took the team from the third division to the top flight - are you putting that legacy on the line?
"I'm not thinking about that. If I did, I would simply quit. There's always a certain amount of risk; it's practically the essence of the job. I'm looking forward to enjoying the work; I want to get things moving and I want the lads to throw themselves into improving our situation. I'm always looking to the future and, whatever comes our way, no-one can take away the past six years [that Guingamp have been in the Ligue 1 Conforama]."