“With me, the AJA would not have gone down to L2”, assures Guy Roux

"With me, the AJA would not have gone down to L2", assures Guy Roux

A ray of sunshine pierces the limpid water of the Molitor swimming pool, where one contemplates, not without envy, a few privileged people chaining the lengths. Behind us, a large room, a slightly smaller oval table, Guy Roux, and a well-felt valve. “Vladimir Putin is waiting for us at the other end, right? “The former coach of AJ Auxerre still knows how to joke and boasts of having all his head. Enough to ensure, from the top of his 83 years, the media tour preceding the broadcast on Premium Video of the documentary “Guy Roux, a history of France”.

Obviously for a luminary who likes to tell stories and does so with a certain skill. Story-telling like we don’t do anymore, with, all the same, an uncontrollable propensity for drivel. But amid a sea of ​​stories about his childhood, Radio London and General de Gaulle, there was plenty of room for a little football.

What did you like about the idea of ​​making this documentary?

First, my nature. I am a communicator, I have always been expansive. I spoke very early. I have my expressions, not always Catholic of course, but I have always spoken fairly correctly in French. My grandfather told me not to swear. He told me that you had to find expressions with the correct words if you wanted to hurt. It served me a lot in my profession as a footballer and coach. Instead of shouting “oh referee, penalty”, I said to him “Mr. the referee, what are you doing with Law 12? “. And they were upset about it.

You also had a long media career.

The media have always fascinated me, I don’t know why. Communication has always been part of my life. When I became an insurance agent, because you had to make a good living when I was a young coach of a club that had no money, I was in the young economic chamber for those under 40 . There, we brought in a guy specialized in public speaking who had taught us to speak according to the number of people and the configuration of the room in which we were.

How do you talk to players in a locker room?

Me, I had organized the U-shaped locker room with the painting behind my back but with some distance to have them all in sight. All that to say that this experience allowed me to have a technical background as if I had gone to school. And then afterwards, my appearance in the media allowed me to perfect that even more. Moreover, put end to end, I have a longer media career than that of a football coach.

Which did you prefer?

Oh, both. What I like is football.

Guy Roux inspired the greatest, even the Smurfs
Guy Roux inspired the greatest, even the Smurfs – CHRISTOPHE SAIDI / SIPA

What would it have given, Guy Roux coach in 2022?

Already, I wouldn’t have gone down League 2. I did 25 seasons of D1, including one interspersed with what we would today call burn-out. Over 25 years, if you average the places I finished, that’s 5.60 over 18 or 20 teams. So mathematically I would never have let the club go where it went. It’s been 16 years since I stopped, there were catastrophic years.

Did it hurt to see AJA out of L1 for a decade?

Yes of course. Especially since no one gave me any presents when I left. When I was in office, I had absolute technical and media power and that caused a lot of jealousy. So when I was gone, they made me pay for it. I was dismissed completely when I would have liked to be consulted more often. Instead, I had to helplessly watch them make mistakes.

For instance ?

Take the wrong trainer. I won’t name a name because he’s still working, poor thing. But from my point of view, he was a coach who was leading us straight to disaster. Either a bad president who can’t count, or political mistakes like going to war with the mayor. I think I would have had better judgment on that. Well, I must say that I was lucky in my time, me. I have known two presidents: one for a year, the other for 41 years. This president was Mr. Hamel. He was a very hard worker who loved the club.

And what do you think of the current management?

I think the club is run very well. It is run by a Chinese industrialist whose figure is not very well known. They say it’s billions… He makes cans of coke and beer for the whole world. He hadn’t come for two years because of the pandemic, but recently he returned to Auxerre and it was thanks to him that they came back. He’s implicated. At the start, of course, it was only capital.

And besides, for the record, it was still me they came to see before buying the club. There was a meeting on the Champs-Elysées, at a lawyer’s. He asked me: “How much does it take to stay in the second division?” “. I give him a number. Then, I am asked how much it takes to go up to L1. I give another number. Then to qualify for the European Cup, there I said that it was necessary to count 100 million more. And then to win the European Cup, I told him: “the United Arab Emirates have been trying for 20 years with the maximum amount of money and they can’t do it. »

Your AJ Auxerre was a bit the opposite. Not a lot of resources, but a strong structure, over which you had control.

Sometimes, we neglect the structural side when we shape clubs. The AJ Auxerre was a small patronage of priests who played in cassocks with kids on vacant lots or in a public square in Auxerre. The year I took it over, there was an annual budget of 70,000 francs and four teams. Today there are 28 teams and the budget of 32 million euros. It was built little by little. And me, in the middle of that, I always thought about my training. When I was in DH, when I earned 600 francs a month and when I had my insurance firm with zero clients, it was hard.

I put a small ticket in a box every week and at the end of the year I went to a foreign club. I went to kyiv, Hamburg, Milan, at Barcaat the time of Cruyff. There, I asked questions, as I had the good head of a rather nice young man, I was always well received. I don’t speak German too badly, English badly and I don’t speak Russian or Spanish. But I found people who spoke French. These were trips that I prepared throughout the year and which helped me in the development of methods. But I ended up developing my own, too.

Like what ?

The day before European Cup matches, I said to my players: “We are going to do the most stupid exercise there is. We’re going to make heads. “I put two players, one at 18m, the other in the center circle and the first had to send a long ball that the second had to head back. I wanted my players to have a taste for duels, because in Europe, when you play big Danes and Swedes of 1m92, you had no choice but to go all out.

To come back to the structural aspect, you had been a precursor in certain aspects, in particular with regard to the recovery of players, with this private plane which allowed you to return more quickly after travel.

(He cuts) And before that, we had a sleeping car for travel. They told me I was crazy, that it was too expensive for the club, that I had to take a classic coach, but we counted it as reasonably as possible. And then, the players were amateurs at the time. They were working the next day, so they had to sleep. It had to be taken into account. When there was the plane, the expenses were even more carefully calculated.

That’s also why I spied on my players and absolutely didn’t want them to go to nightclubs. We were investing too much money in recovery for them to afford to ruin our efforts!

With today’s networks, it would have been too easy for you to keep an eye on your players, wouldn’t it?

Social networks were invented in Auxerre (laughs)! I had my own networks. I knew the people who worked at the motorway tollbooth, I had informants. But I didn’t just use it for my players. I had an obsession: I didn’t want a single referee to be attacked at Auxerre. So I set up my personal militia, nightclub bouncers, guys who did kickboxing, who didn’t punch in the face so as not to leave traces, but pushed back with the palm or the foot on the chest. , in case. At the final whistle, there were two who would rush to the farthest linesman to protect him. It was like that.

It’s been a few years since you left, and we have this curious impression that your aura still hangs over the club. How do your successor coaches experience it?

We are on the seventh or eighth coach since I left. It all took time to fade.

And what do you think of Jean-Marc Furlan?

He is fine. He is a very professional coach, with a lot of character. Not so long ago, we had a discussion during which I told him that we [l’AJA] lost a lot of points by bringing out their best players 5-10 minutes from the end of the match. In my opinion, the best players should not be replaced. To which he replied: “Don’t worry about that. What matters to me is having 17-18 players who last the season. If I do what you tell me, I will lose 7 to injury.

And he was right! We went up, so he was right. And I’m very glad he was right, I was jubilant. The club is in very good hands with Jean-Marc. But now, everything is harder with the presence of club-states which inject capital, including in Auxerre. But it’s a turn that had to be taken, that’s life.

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