I felt as though I was in dreamland pulling in to the Centre Tola Vologe. The last time I was here was in 1993. A lot had changed since then but I was confident I would be accepted to this fantastique équipe de football. After 6 amazing years here as a player, I had gone on to play for Strasbourg and Arsenal. It was at Arsenal and under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger that I realised my love for the game would continue long after I retired. I was ready to become a manager and there was one place that was giving me the perfect place to start.
The owner, Jean-Michel Aulas bought the club in my first season with the club and I was excited to meet him again. He was waiting for me inside the foyer with a big smile. I was nervous but so excited to shake hands with the great man again and have a meeting with him. This man saved the club, got rid of their debts and secured the future for years to come. He led me into his office he has at the training ground and we sat down to discuss details. I was given a 1 year €12,000 a week contract but I was confident I would extend this before it was up. He also wanted me to ensure we would play attacking football and develop players from the youth system. These were two philosophies that were already in my own managing priorities so I agreed without hesitation. Then we moved on to transfer budgets and season expectations. The minimum was European qualification but I was given no money for transfers and a wage budget of €602,000. I wasn’t best pleased but I knew the squad was strong enough to get through this season without having to spend millions. We then set up a press conference for me to be introduced to the media.
The media welcomed me, knowing I had this club in my heart from my playing days and I was giddy with excitement. I have big plans for this club and I let the reporters know that but I have to start small and transforming this club to battle at the top of Ligue 1 will take time, especially with the millions P$G are splashing.
I said thanks to the reporters, posed for pictures and left to meet the squad and my assistant manager. There was much work to be done but I was in it for the long haul and I was back where my heart belongs.