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Martin Valois: A story of Blood and Gold

Rising the North Devils
Started on 17 October 2016 by Hellsdoom / First Post
Latest Reply on 24 November 2016 by Hellsdoom / Last Post
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It’s Saturday, 4.05.2002, around 22:00h. A 16 years old boy is crying in the away crowd on Stade de Gerland. The home team fans are invading the pitch, celebrating their team’s first domestic title. For the visitors, the only thing left is to wipe their tears and suffer through the long way home. RC Lens have wasted 6 points lead in just 5 games, to lose the title in dramatic fashion, on the last day of the season.
The scenes of triumph and sorrow remain in the boy’s mind, not only for the 5 hours train ride back to Lens, but for the years to come. The team never again came so close to it’s second league title. One by one, the team goals went lower and lower. Champions League, Europa League, mid-table, relegation battle, relegation. As the club descended, the boy’s love for it only grew stronger. The boy, of course, is me-your guide in this story, Martin Valois.
I was born on 30.01.1986 in Tournai, Belgium. When I was 10, my father left the family. My mom and I moved to Lens, where lived her sister. By chance, my new home was on Rue de Tulipes, 500m from Stade Felix Bolaert, the home of RC Lens. I quickly fell in love with the town, the stadium and the club. I stayed there and supported-through the glory days (title in 1998, Coupe de la Ligue in 1999, UEFA Cup semifinal in 2000), and through the worst nightmares-the relegations in 2008 and 2011, and the FFF decision to discard the promotion we won in 2014 and to send us back in Ligue 2.
The only time away from Lens was, when I finished my education in Paris. Math. I have always liked Math. Combined with my love for football, there was only one thing to do, when I came back home- applied for the recently vacated position in the club’s statistic department. Jean Guy Wallemme was the man, who got me in the club structures. He was the one who also sent me to my first coaching courses, two years later. “It can be useful in the future”, he said. Well, he was right. A wise man, Jean Guy.
In the next 7 years I worked for the club- in the scouting and statistics department, and often helping the coaches and the managers during the training sessions. And speaking of managers, there were plenty of them- namely, four men were at the helm, for the five years, since Wallemme left. Do you know how hard is to learn something from a substitute teacher? Knowing that someone is here, just for the time being, doesn’t help towards building a positive attitude. That’s how players and staff in the club felt during this time. Even a legend, like the Romanian Laszlo Boloni stayed only four months, and was released after a relegation, which couldn’t be avoided. The only man, who remained on the windy position, for more than a year was Antoine Kombuare. He was the second, whom cared for the people, who weren’t his “personal” staff. And the second, who sent me on coaching courses. As a young manager himself, he saw a point in helping people, who were like him.
And one day, in the middle of May 2016, the manager, Antoine Kombouare was released after a disappointing season in Ligue 2, ended in 6th place in the league and only 39 goals in 38 matches- not nearly enough for a team, considered favorite for promotion.
Mr. Kombouare took all his staff with him, so, as a person with long servitude in the club, I was left in charge of the few old dogs and young guns, who decided to stay in Lens and help the new manager with the rebuilding, required for a return in the top flight.
Only, there was no new manager. The club’s owner mr. Hafiz Mammadov, a man, known for his inconsistency, wasn’t exactly the person, most of the managers in France would like to work for. On top of all, there were rumors that he has financial problems, back in his native Azerbaijan, and the result was clear- the club was far away from swimming in petrol money. So the days were rolling, we had to start preparing for the preseason, and the club was still without someone, to hold the reigns.
One morning, I was checking the reports of some players, whom our scouts were looking at, when my phone rang. It was Gervais Martel- the club president. He is not just the man in charge- he is institution in RC Lens, and the French football. Being in the club since 1988, respected by everyone, who has some kind of connection with the club.
-“Martin”-he said- “I have a proposal for you”
-“And what would that be, mr. President?”
-“I’d like you to be the club’s next manager”
When I heard that, I was about to drop the phone on the floor. Me? A manager? Of this club? A guy, who has never played professional football, a guy, who doesn’t even have high coaching licenses. A manager?
-“What is it, boy? Are you okay?”
-“Yes, mr. President, I am fine, just a little shocked.”- yeah, a little, right- “But why me, there must be other managers, far more experienced and respe…”
-“Listen, Martin”-mr. Martel said –“You know what is the situation in this club. We are not rich, and our owner’s reputation doesn’t help us find a more experienced manager. We have to choose someone young and bold. And I know you. You love this club and will do anything for it to prosper. And after all, you may be young, but I see how you work and want to learn. I prefer someone, who I trust, Martin. That someone is you”
What could I have said? There was no way to decline this offer.
-“I can’t say no, mr.President. And I promise, I will do my best, not to disappoint you”
-“I know you will, Martin. I know. Now, come to my office and let’s do some work. Trust me, boy, there is a lot of it ahead of us, and the sooner we start, the better.”
-“Yes, mr. Martel. I am on my way.”
And we started. The rebuilding of a team, which needs to be returned back to glory. I want a revenge for this night in May 2002. I know, it won’t be easy. But as they say in that popular TV show- you know our words. “Es Sang et Or”. For there will be Blood, but at the end of this, there will be Gold too.
Looking good man, good luck!
Lens have been very inconsistent the last few years, hopefully you can change that for them :)
Looking foward to this...Good Luck :)
Good start!, keep it up bro!
Very nice start man, well written. Look forward to more!
Thank you, guys. :)
Really nice start man. A story in France is a great idea!

First of all, thanks everyone for the kind words. I will do my best not to disappoint you with this.

And so, the work of rebuilding began. First of all, I had to revaluate what I have in my disposal



At first look, a solid squad. Maybe lacking a bit depth infront and on the left back. Finding a new striker is mandatory: after all, the team scored only 39 goals last season and that costed dearly.
The defense is solid, the best in the league last season. Now only need to find a way to score more, without losing stability in defense.

On the goal, we have some serious experience. Nicolas Douchez is the starter here.:



The best defender in the squad, no doubt is Mohamed Fofana. He is the leader of the back four and the guy, from whom the younger defenders will learn:



In the middle of the park, the most important player is John Bostock. He will be my main playmaker, the man, who will be the engine of my new machine.



And upfront, a guy who will need to score goals. Christian, once a product of Real Madrid second team, now main striker in RC Lens. He has a tough task ahead of him, bringing those vital goals.



And finally, my first signing. Brought in as cover for the central defenders, for 130,000 Euro, Antony Marin.



Judging all the strenghts and weaknesses with my staff, I decided on a 4-1-2-2-1 formation. Maybe it is not the most original one, but for now, we need results, not experiments. Once the team is comfortable enough with it, I will try to implement something more eye catching.



I am heading into the friendlies with believe in my mind, that we can reach the promotion playoffs, something which was set as a goal by Mr.Martel. It won't be easy, I know-the league is hard and competitive. But I believe in my squad. Let's get into the first games, and see what the future has to offer.
Good update mate :)
A good squad available to you man, I'm sure you can take this team back into Ligue 1's upper reaches in no time!
Cheering for you to take that club in first league...I like your way of presentation :)
@ScottT thanks :)
@ mgriffin2012 yes, it seems solid, will see what I can achieve :)
@ ZakNikFMP thank you, mate :)
July 2016

First of all-we have a lady on board :D Judging by where she was born, she must be a hobbit :D





A first half red card changed the game plan, to a more defensive one. Still we controlled the game, but couldn't score. Yep, we need a new striker badly.

But before that: I am growing up in the business





I have some good and some bad news. Clean sheet, that is OK, but second "dry" game is worrying. At least we create-24 shots at goal that game, but cannot score. Hopefully, the luck will be on our side in the future.

Aha!!! A signing!!!



Clement is a loanee, coming from Marseille, with the reputation of future star. Can he be our man?



And maybe he is. After 225 goalless minutes, the new signing introduces himself in style. We conceded too, but at the end, it's a first win and I take it.



Seems like when they start coming, they come in both ways.Still, the toughest game in the preaseason gives me hope-we played well and deserved even more from it.



The last friendly is the worst. We took the lead and after that, were nonexistent on the pitch. Not the way I want to enter the season, for sure.

First competitive game. Shaky, shaky :)



Tadaam!!! We got a surprising result, another goalless draw. Still, Gazelec Ajacio are one of the teams, which are supposed to fight for promotion, so I take this result as a good one,

Let's see what August will bring to us.
A solid start man, keep it up!
Lovely stuff mate :) decent results so far

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