Nîmes Olympique: the secrets of sports director Sébastien Larcier

Nîmes Olympique: the secrets of sports director Sébastien Larcier
Nîmes Olympique: the secrets of sports director Sébastien Larcier

National. Sébastien Larcier (46), sports director of Nîmes Olympique, received Midi Libre at length to discuss the past season and the one to come. And a club with which he identifies more and more.

When you are a sports director, do you have time to enjoy the end of the season, and a continuation in your case?

Not at all. Especially since it was the minimum we owed the club and the Nîmes. We are not going to gargle with maintenance.

We’ll get to the heart of the matter right away. This late change of coach, the choice of Adil Hermach, is it the best decision of your DS career?

No. Because if it is a decision that pays off in terms of stats, it was very hard to make on a human level. It was the right decision, but it wasn’t a moment I enjoyed. I don’t want to relive it.

Should you have taken it before?

No, I don’t think so, because we were first in the return phase (3rd in the end, Editor’s note) and Fred (Bompard) took part. We had a good run at the start of 2024 after six defeats in a row. We had the impression of having found a dynamic again. And financially, we would not have been able to pay a fine for six months (€7,500 per match for a non-qualified coach, Editor’s note).

Even though the job was done in practice, the team clearly underperformed. How do you explain it?

This group had to learn to live together, with players from the levels below who did not know the National, and those who came from above either. There was also a gap between the level of demands of the coach, who came from a very high level, and the current state of health of the club which did not meet his demand for professionalism.

We hoped with Fred that the early draws would turn into victories. We weren’t too far away but we never crossed the line. Our offensive limitations prevented us from hitting the right wagon. Mbemba’s long absence was detrimental to us, and Doucouré never managed to impose himself. As for the scorer, we have him, but he is in the making: Orphé Mbina (8 goals in the league) has the qualities to succeed.

Building a new squad last summer was a real project. Would you say that you will proceed with the finishing touches this time?

Yes, because there is a strong backbone, even if in National, you are not immune to departures, which can weaken it. The needs are identified: three offensive profiles, a scorer, a passer and a speed/depth attacker. In general, to move up, you have to score 50 goals (NO scored 36). We had too few scorers this season. The rest of recruitment will depend on movements.

Concerning the guard position, if we were you, we wouldn’t know what to do. So what are you going to do?

There is a big question mark on this position at the moment. I can’t look for a number 1 as long as I have the three under contract, Dias who is coming back from injury and who we have to rebuild, Cozzella from whom I would have liked more investment and Fabrice Ondoa who arrived short of preparation and who was never able to continue. I received it on Wednesday.

He made financial sacrifices to come, he played little and it’s not easy for him, even if his behavior was exemplary. He has desires elsewhere. I am convinced that he can be our number 1. He has that natural leader side that we need in National. What bothers me is that there is still the CAN and World Cup qualifiers. If it is selected, it can be a hassle.

And what about Tao Paradowski?

He is free and told me he was in demand. If he wants to stay, I undertake to give him a professional contract, but the regulations prohibit us from doing so before February (when he turns 20, Editor’s note). But until then, what do we do?

According to our information, Rani Assaf has set a comeback as her objective next season. You confirm ?

Yes, the president wants to play the climb. He told me he wasn’t selling the club. Until when, I don’t know… There is also a coach – we operate as if Adil (Hermach) was going to stay – and a DS in place (smile) who are ambitious and don’t want to settle for the National . We will do everything to make it work. We feel that something happened at the end of the season. There is an identity that is born. We have a good basis to start again.

And you, are you leaving again? You are at the end of your contract but you have the trust of Rani Assaf, and seem fulfilled here despite a daily life strewn with pitfalls…

Yes, I’m happy to be here. My wife likes it here, my son (Tom) plays at NO. I attended several clubs (Dijon, Angers, etc.), which also have a history, but I didn’t feel the same thing, this fervor. Nîmes Olympique triggers something that others don’t necessarily have. I like this passionate and passionate atmosphere, but not only that.

Once the “gap” of financial negotiations has been passed with Rani, which can be tense, but they are with all presidents because it is their sorrel (sic), I have very appreciable freedom of work. Things are going very well with Valérie (Merchez, the administrative manager), who is invaluable to me in drafting contracts, etc.

And I can choose the men I want to work with, like Adil. We are in the process of recreating close relationships with the Association. I talk a lot with Thierry Lorenzo (responsible for pre-training), I try to go and see the young people. I identify more and more. We need to once again become this united club with a very strong and assertive identity.

Behind the scenes of the interview

Staff: research. Notice to interested parties: Nîmes is looking for an assistant coach, “young and dynamic, who uses video and new tools and knows the National, N2 and N3 well if possible”, describes Sébastien Larcier. The club has not made an extension offer to the current number 2, Thibault Giresse. The rest of the staff is unchanged. No nominee is being considered to “cover” Adil Hermach, who does not have a diploma but hopes that his VAE (validation of acquired experience) file will be accepted by the Federation (FFF).

Players: interview. The DS received the players in individual interviews. Burner, Sacko, Doucouré and Sané are left free. NO wants to loan Ngakoutou and Laurens. Sy, Labonne, Wade and Delpech have an exit voucher. At the trial, Bouaoune liked it but will not have a professional contract. Lamgahez and Khalid yes, if they accept it.

Resumption: seven friendly matches. Resumption of training on July 8 at La Bastide. Seven friendly matches will be played between now and the first day of the championship on August 16: OM (L1) at Commanderie on July 17; Istres (N2) on the 20th; Aubagne (N) on the 26th and Agde (N3) on the 31st, these three in locations to be determined; Martigues (L2) to Mallemort on August 3; Grenoble (L2) at Saint-Marcellin on August 7 and Cannes (N2) at Antonins on the 9th, behind closed doors because of work on the sports hall.

Finance: DNCG. NO passes on May 29. With losses (according to our information, almost 4 million euros on a budget of 6.5 million euros) but without fear, because the cash flow is good and will fill the hole without any problem.

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