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Olympique De Marseille - The Resurrection

Started on 2 September 2017 by chrisball712
Latest Reply on 9 September 2017 by chrisball712
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chrisball712's avatar Group chrisball712
6 yearsEdited

So my story starts here, in the small Kent town of Tonbridge. My name is Chris Ball, and I'm a 30 year old father of two, a seven year old girl, Miley, and Harvey, my boy of 8 months old. I've worked in sales in various forms over the past 12 years, but I am a man that dreams of so much more, a man that dreams of bigger things, better things, and where do I intend to make these dreams come the torrid world of football management.

Now this is not a pipe dream of some guy with a fantasy. No....I'm a man with a plan. A plan in fact that was put into action no less than 8 years ago at the ripe age of 22. That's when I made the decision I was going to be a top European football manager one day, and anyone that knows me, knows that when I get something in my head it's gonna happen sooner or later.

So what was this plan I hear you ask... well I had a theory about how I could become a manager at a top club from day one with no experience in the job. One I'd spend the next 8 years of my life studying, learning, qualifying...everything I needed on paper to convince a high rolling chairman to take a punt on me and put me, the unknown quantity, in charge of his football club!

My theory comes from the world of everyday life. Having worked a short stint in recruitment, I was very aware that young people with University degrees were in high demand these days. Every man and his dog wants a well educated rookie for virtually every job out there - Hell, I was recruiting for van drivers for a national business and one of the pre reqs for the role was a bloody Uni degree.... So what happens when I advertise the role, I get a number of guys applying for the job with loads of driving experience, but guess what, no degrees. And you guessed it, my client rejected them. So I'm in this awkward position where I've now got to tell a number of guys who are perfectly capable of doing this job, but can't because they don't have the right qualifications written on their CV.

So I got to thinking that this could be implemented into the world of football. Who cares that I haven't come up through the coaching ranks, who cares that I haven't won trophy after trophy, award after award. Who cares that I've never even played football beyond a Sunday pub team level! Nope, to get my foot in the door straight off at a big club, I'd just get a list as long as my arm down on paper of all the qualifications I've earned. And then when the time is right, I'll put myself in the firing line for my dream job.

And so it begun. I enrolled for University, earning myself a degree in Sports Science to start. Then began my coaching badges, one after the other, domestic licenses followed by continental. I went to football games for two years all over Europe, keeping records of every match I'd seen. I analysed every game to absolute buggery, made pages and pages of notes, drawings, sketches, diagrams. You name a stat, I'd taken it, broken it down, torn it apart, explained to myself why it worked or in fact why it didn't. And what did I do with these notes, they went into a portfolio, something I'd take with my certifications and CV to any interview I was ever fortunate enough to get. I was going to sell myself as the ultimate statistician - the man who could draw up an analysis of any situation and work out a solution, or in most cases a devastating counter! I could see my name in the headlines now...

As part of my learning/qualifications process over the past few years, I'd taken it upon myself to learn fluent French and Spanish. I'm fully aware that most of the bigger teams in Europe are made up of multiple nationalities so I wanted to put myself in the strongest position possible to be able to effectively communicate with majority, if not all, of my players (once I'd got a job obviously).

So this is what I've been doing for the past 8 years of my life, around working as a salesperson of course to keep the roof over our heads and food on the table. But now it is time, time to make the dreams come true. Time to take the biggest step of my life to date and move into the world of football management. All I had to do now is decide where I wanted to go - with so many beautiful cities in Europe, I felt like I had the world at my feet. I was going to make this dream come true, not sit back and wait and hope something comes my way....and the club was going to be of my choosing. Misplaced confidence you may say, but I'm a firm believer in the saying that if you want something bad enough.....
I'd Picked My Club

My decision was made - I'd not told anyone, possibly because I feared the inevitable laughter when I told people I was going to Barcelona to make friends with the right people and put myself in line for the Barca manager's job. Yep, I'd decided to put myself in line for the biggest job in European football, managing the legendary Barcelona FC. Plus, I couldn't really talk to anyone about it as I had no idea what I was going to do at this stage, I'm guessing it wasn't going to be as easy as asking for a meeting with the chairman, after all I'm just an everyday Joe off the street! Maybe I'd bottle it and just shove my CV in the post - I'd worry about that when I got there!

The Mrs and I had discussed the whole football management thing for sure, but I'm a proud man and I didn't want to tell her when I was going for a specific job in case I had to deal with the embarrassment of being laughed out the door which could well be a possibility in this case. Obviously, she was aware that relocation was on the cards to Europe and that was the purpose of this 'holiday' as we were packing for 2 weeks away in the sun. We'd be house hunting and I'd already lined up a couple of nice 4 bedroom houses by the sea for us to view.

We'd convinced my mum to have the kids for a couple of weeks and although the Mrs was completely looking forward to two weeks away with me, I have to admit my mind was on other things, my whole body tingling with excitement that I might actually become Barcelona manager. Yep, by this time I'd convinced myself they would at least have to look at my application with all the credentials I'd be bringing to the role....yes it may not be proven experience but as mentioned before, nobody looks for experience in the workplace anymore, they look at certificates and qualifications and I'd got everything you could get in that area!

Now the other half doesn't like to fly, so we'd decided to drive to Barcelona. We'd get the ferry over from Dover to Calais and drive down through France from there, stopping over at a couple of places along the way to take in some of the sights. Both of us had heard there were some beautiful places to visit in France and we'd earmarked Marseille on the southern coast as a definite, what with it being voted European City of Culture back in 2013 and all...
Hmmmmm what is going to stop you being Barcelona manager?
2017-09-02 21:21#246132 mgriffin2012 : Hmmmmm what is going to stop you being Barcelona manager?

Haha, you'll have to wait and see ;-)
An Unexpected Encounter

There we were, me and the Mrs sitting in one of the finest restaurants in Marseille, Une Table au Sud. It had been a long two days on the road driving through France, and this was a well deserved treat that I'd booked up for us about a week ago.

Now this restaurant was something else, stunning views, exquisite food, impeccable service, but I guess at these prices I should of expected nothing less than the best. But as I started my second course of the evening, I noticed something, a man dining alone who seemed to be receiving extra special treatment. Although he'd arrived after most of the guests that evening, he'd been served his food first, waiters seemed to be clambering to fall over themselves to do everything and anything they could for him, the owner of the restaurant even personally greeting him upon arrival and escorting him to his table.

The stranger thing for me was that I recognised this guy, but I just couldn't think for the life of me where from? He wasn't a movie star, didn't work in music, but I definitely knew him and it was really bugging me that I couldn't place him! He was a well dressed man in a very sharp suit, had short dark hair that looked like it would grow out to be curly, was wearing small rounded glasses and the shiniest shoes I've ever seen. As I continued through my meal, drifting in and out of conversation with the Mrs, I noticed that this fella was really knocking back the drinks and was nearing the end of his 2nd bottle of wine, in the time it had taken me to drink only 2 glasses. He looked distressed, not like he had done something wrong, but like he just had something playing on his mind. He didn't look grumpy, just like he was deep in thought, like he was searching for answers but in his mind he couldn't find them. I started to pity this guy from across the room a little as he seemed to be sat there with the weight of the world on his shoulders and had nobody with him to unload his troubles too.

We were finishing our dessert and the man across the room, about 4 tables away, was now onto something a little stronger, drinking shorts straight with ice. He had finished his meal and was reading that day's L'Equipe, a nationwide daily newspaper in France dedicated specifically to sport. My Mrs left her seat and attended the ladies room, upon finishing her meal, probably for the usual 'check myself in the mirror' routine after eating. Curiosity had gotten the better of me by this point and I couldn't just leave without knowing where I know this guy from. So I rose from my seat and trotted over warily to the man. He hadn't seen me coming as his head was buried in his paper, but I reached his table and as politely as I could said "Excuse me Sir, I'm so sorry to bother you but I really recognise you, I just can't for the life of me think where from." The man looked up, "I am Jacques-Henri Eyraud" in a confident manner that I should immediately recognise this name. I didn't have a clue. How f****** embarassing I thought as I stared blankly back at him.... "Jacques-Henri Eyraud" he repeated with his arms open as if repeating it would jog my memory. It didn't! About 5 seconds passed of nothing, before he said the words that clicked it all into place "I'm the chairman of Marseille football club".

Now I wouldn't normally recognise the chairman of a football club abroad like this, but I'd recently been following the whole Dimitri Payet saga that had been ongoing for the past few weeks between West Ham and Marseille and this guy had been pictured all over Sky Sports News as Marseille had been presenting their new man following the £25 million transfer. "Ah that's where I know you from, the news channel back in England" I said. I followed up with "Bet you're pleased all that Payet business is done and out of the way now". He gave me a short smile as he said confidently "We knew we'd get our man. It was just a matter of time". I liked him immediately, as I caught the passing waiter and ordered two Sailor Jerry Rums. "Let me buy you a drink Sir, we'll toast to that and I'll get back to my Mrs and leave you to your evening". Our drinks came and Mr Eyraud invited me to sit down to share the drinks I'd just ordered. I got the impression he was just glad for some company.

My Mrs returned and approached me at my new table, said she was tired and was off back to the hotel. She had called us a cab but said if I wanted to stay for a drink she doesn't mind. Now at that point, if she'd have ordered me out of that restaurant there and then, that would of been it. But thankfully she didn't and I gave my new 'friend' a hopeful glance and he gave me a nod as if to approve me staying to drink with him. Jacques ordered up two more drinks and we got to talking. I gained in confidence with the increased alcohol in my system, and questioned Jacques on why he looked so troubled early on in the evening....he'd seemed to have lightened up since talking to me. "Rudi Garcia" he said with saddened eyes. Rudi Garcia had just been announced as manager of Marseille and I looked at Jacques confused. He went on to explain how he felt he'd made a terrible mistake and didn't feel he was the right man to be taking Marseille forward. He kept his professionalism and didn't go into too much detail which I admired, but it was clear something was not right here. We got to talking, and before I knew it I was telling him all about my management plan, my portfolio was out of the car parked downstairs outside the restaurant and we were talking stats, analysis, training, preperation. The thing that suprised both of us I think is how much we were on the same page with everything. He seemed really impressed with my ideas, stunned almost with my level of in depth knowledge of the game.

The restaurant had emptied, we were the last two left and to be perfectly honest we were both quite pissed. Jacques stood up, as did I, he shook my hand firmly, handed me one of his business cards and told me to come to the stadium tomorrow at 3pm. He left....leaving me with one question running through my head.... What could he possibly want to see me for?
chrisball712's avatar Group chrisball712
6 yearsEdited
The Meeting That Changed My Life Forever

I hadn't known what to expect from this meeting at all, and had been given no guidance of what to wear or anything, so I'd been out that day and bought myself a black Hugo Boss suit and some new shoes, thinking I'd try to mimic what Jacques had looked like the night before at the restaurant.

I turned, up and from the outside I was stunned at this structure that stood before me, The Stade Velodrome, known now as the Orange Velodrome for sponsorship reasons. This was a stadium I'd not visited before on my travels around Europe watching football and I'd missed out on something special. It was a sight indeed and I was in awe as I rocked up with nervousness and excitement.

I entered this amazing building, and to my surprise was greeted by Jacques himself. I mean I didn't even know if he was going to remember inviting me in his drunken state the night before. But he seemed really happy to see me. He walked me around the stadium, yep I was given the grand tour, we saw the changing rooms, the press office, the director's boxes, the pitch, the restaurants and bars, the club shop....everything! And as we walked, Jacques was talking to me about the history of the club, telling me about where he wanted the club to go, about the disappointment of last season's 13th placed finish and explaining how this simply was not good enough for one of France's biggest clubs! It was weird as I thought to myself as we walked around "is this guy trying to sell me a season ticket, because he is definitely putting the hard sell on me and selling Marseille as the ultimate package". And I'll tell you now it was working, I was hooked, I was amazed by this club, I loved it - everything single part of it. I mean that stadium alone, what a beauty!

That's when the weirdest part of the 'tour' happened. We walked along a long corridor with pictures of Marseille players past and present until we came to a large set of double doors. There was one of those slots where you would normally have a printed slat slid in it with some text on, maybe a name or something, but it was missing. Jacques opened the door and I walked in to see the nicest office I'd ever been lucky enough to step into. This was plush from the leather furniture to the high spec PC, the bookcases and even a small fridge built into the interior design.

My eyes lit up and without even thinking the word "wow" came out of my mouth. Jacques looked at me and said "I'm glad you like it.....because it's yours if you want it". I looked at him confused....He smiled and said "This is the manager's office Chris....I want you to become the new manager of Marseille Football Club". I was gobsmacked, shocked, speechless and just about muttered out the words "But you've just hired a manager". Jacques confirmed he had let Rudi Garcia go that morning, saying he believed our meeting the night before was fate. He told me that I didn't realise it but the night before had been an interview...He was so impressed with my qualifications, my persistence and hard work over the years to gain all of these certifications and then my dedication to analysing football. He firmly believed in me that if I implement that into a managerial role, I'd be extremely successful.

Barcelona FC was the furthest thing from my mind at this point as I was totally taken aback by this wonderful football club in beautiful south France. I was handed a ready made contract which I signed there and then without a doubt in my mind. I'd walked into this magnificent stadium today as an ordinary man with a dream....I'd walked out as the new manager of Olympique Marseille....This was without a doubt, the best day of my life!

chrisball712's avatar Group chrisball712
6 yearsEdited

Q: Do you feel the expectations put on you in your first season in charge are realistic and fair?

A: I do! The club have not put an extreme amount of pressure on me for this first season. They're looking for a top half finish and for us to make the quarter final of the French Cup, both of which I believe are highly achievable.

Q: You're a noted polyglot; how useful is your multilingualism in today's football culture?

A: I'm confident it will give me a great advantage. Our game is continually expanding around the globe and any edge I have over the competition has to be of use.

Q: We're led to believe that you're a very defence minded coach. How do you intend to factor that into your day to day management?

A: Any team worth their salt will need to be strong in defence. But I won't abandon my attacking responsibilities and we won't be pigeon holed as a defensive team. I'm not here to play boring football, I want to entertain these fans and give them the success they so deserve in the process.

Q: New managers often bring in their own people and the current backroom staff may be wondering about their futures. Will there be any changes on that front?

A: I think in the main part we have a good setup here and I won't be making wholesale changes. One or two may have to leave as I look to bring some of my own staff in yes. But I won't be providing anymore details on this today until I've spoken to the guys involved.

Q: Are you likely to delve into the transfer market at all?

A: For sure! I have been allocated a budget to improve the squad and there are areas where we need one or two players, so I'll be looking at our options but I have one or two players in mind that I'd love to bring to this club and I think could fit into the style of football I am looking to play.

Q: It is often said that money buys success in football. Is that something you agree with as you certainly have a good amount of funds available to you?

A: I think that obviously the more money at your disposal, the better players you can buy. But no I don't believe it is the be all and end all - just look at what Leicester achieved in the Premiership last year and they spent nowhere near the amounts of the likes of Man City, Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool! And as far as teams in our league go, we have the likes of PSG and Monaco who seem to have endless funds so I don't think anyone can suggest we are in a position to buy our way to the top of the league table.

Q: What's your long term goal here Chris?

A: I want to cement a legacy for myself as Marseille's best, most successful manager in history. I have a short term plan as well...this season we will be pushing to get ourselves back into Europe, via at least the Uefa Cup. Then next season we will pushing for a Champions League place with a view to winning Ligue 1 from my 3rd season. That's the short term goal....from there I am looking to secure more domestic success followed by the big one, I want to bring that Champions League trophy back here!
chrisball712's avatar Group chrisball712
6 yearsEdited

Marseille today confirmed the signing of stiker Sam Vokes from Burnley for an initial fee of £11 million. The fee may rise to £12.25 million with add ons.

Sam Vokes, 26, has played all of his football in England to date, coming through the Bournemouth academy in 2005 to become a first team regular there within a couple of years. Vokes signed for Wolves where he spent majority of his time out on loan with the likes of Leeds, Bristol City, Norwich and Brighton. Vokes signed for Burnley in 2012 where he has gone on to score 39 goals in 143 appearances. Vokes also has plenty of international experience with 44 appearances for Wales, scoring 7 goals.

Vokes is new manager Chris Ball's first signing for the club since taking over in July and the Marseille boss was delighted to have captured his man. "Sam is a player I've admired for a while. He was a huge part of both Burnley's promotion years from the Championship scoring a total of 35 goals across those two seasons. He's a good finisher who's comfortable with the ball at his feet but also powerful in the air, which is something I felt we were missing".

Ball will be pleased to have added a permanent striker to his ranks, with the club's current roster of strikers all being on loan (Clinton N'Jie from Tottenham, Bafetimbi Gomis from Swansea and Aaron Leya Iseka from Anderlecht. With four available strikers, Ball should be happy with the different options he has up front now but it remains to be seen on who his first choice will be.

Marseille followed up their signing of Sam Vokes today, with the arrival of Victor Caceres from Qatar Stars League side Al-Rayyan. Caceres arrives for an initial fee of £2.3 million rising to £4 million with add ons.

Defensive midfielder Caceres made his name playing for Libertad in his native Paraguay, where he made 198 appearances over the course of 9 seasons. His best success came at Brazilian side Flamingo where he won the Brazilian Cup and the Rio De Janeiro State Championship in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Al-Rayyan snapped up Cacaeres 2 seasons ago for a bargain fee of £675k. He offers a wealth of international experience, making 65 caps and scoring 1 goal.

Manager Chris Ball said today "In the system I like to play, it's absolutely key to have an anchorman sitting in front of and protecting the back four. Victor is perfect for this role, he's strong in the tackle, with excellent positional and marking skills. He's tall and a good header of the ball. With him sitting in the holding midfield role, it can give us more options going forward knowing that we have reliable cover".

At 31 years old, Caceres will offer some senior experience to the team and can act as an excellent role model for some of Marseille's emerging young talent over the next couple of years.

New Marseille manager Chris Ball is clearly a fan of English football as he has today confirmed his second signing from his native country. Marseille secured Dale Stephens from Brighton & Hove Albion for a fee no less than £9 million, rising to £9.5 million in add ons.

The 27 years old central midfielder, from Bolton in England, will join his teammates immediately and will be looking to show Ball what he can do in the remaining friendlies before the competitive season kicks off.

This move represents a big step up for Stephens, having never played at top flight level before, although he is a player that had a growing reputation in England and rumour has it that the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace were heavily scouting the player before Marseille swooped.

When asked about his new man, Chris Ball responded "Dale is a fantastic talent and I'm delighted to have him here. I'm happy to give Dale the chance he deserves to play at this level and I have no doubt he will be up to the challenge. Dale is a great signing for us, he offers both excellent tackling and passing ability and he can finish too. He can cover anywhere in the central midfield, both defensive and attacking so as a utility player he is a superb and much needed addition to the squad".

Some good singings! Hopefully they work out for you. Pre-season looks promising towards the end.

Stephens is a peculiar signing but sure you know what you're doing, some good results too!

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