Ligue 2 – Troyes – Laurent Batlles, coach of Troyes: «Psychology is at the heart of our job»

eda54 - Ligue 2 - Troyes - Laurent Batlles, coach of Troyes: «Psychology is at the heart of our job»

Ligue 2 – Troyes

For his first experience at the head of a professional team, Laurent Batlles makes a promising start with ESTAC. After twelve days, the former playmaker has earned the respect of his peers and his team is now a credible outsider in the climb race. The opportunity to look at his philosophy and his multidisciplinary approach to coaching.

"We imagine you satisfied with your first steps at the head of a professional team …
Yes, I'm happy from the beginning. From an accounting point of view, twenty-two points in twelve days is a good record. Now, I do not forget that there were difficult times, with two defeats at home early in the season, and two more before the last international break. So we see that we do not have a lot of margin. Our results are a bit jagged because we do not really know how to draw. We must be one of the top teams that has lost the most! But somewhere, it's normal because the group has evolved a lot in recent months, with significant departures. It was necessary to create a cohesion and it is never something easy.

Is it to try to create this type of alchemy that you chose to become a coach?
In part. In fact, throughout my playing career, I tried to observe what my coaches were trying to put in place. In addition to that, I was often a privileged relay for them in the field. When I stopped playing, I was offered a recruiter position that I accepted. The problem is that I found myself alone and I did not like it. Not the function itself, but having to work in my corner. I rather wanted to give what I had received as a player.

"I wanted to test my limits"

This is where AS Saint-Etienne played a key role?
I graduated while taking care of young people in this wonderful club, and it strengthened me in this desire to transmit. I also learned a lot from Christophe Galtier, whom I had the good fortune to be the assistant. Then, of course, I wanted to become number one and this is the opportunity that ASSE offered me by offering me the reserve. I then logically accepted the proposal of Troyes because I wanted to test my limits and see if I was able to take care of a professional team. The ESTAC project immediately pleased me. Since the beginning, I am in a form of continuity.

By observing your first steps and the last outings of your team, it seems that your ability to adapt is one of your strengths. You confirm ?
I do not know if this is my highest quality but say that during my three years of training with the reserve, I learned to compose. When you train a reserve team, you never know which professionals will come to reinforce your group, which players you will have at your disposal with regard to the different competitions of young people, etc … By the force of the things, you are thus obliged to you adapt. With each time the will to set up the team that will be the best able to annoy the opponent.

"I try to put some more or less intangible principles that allow us to have benchmarks."

It is this journey that pushes you to use different systems, to be more pragmatic than other coaches?
Perhaps. But I try nevertheless to put some more or less intangible principles that allow us to have benchmarks. Here, I also had to learn to know my workforce, its qualities and its faults. Showing players that one can evolve in different systems and registers also helps to stimulate competition.

Managing gaming times and ego is as difficult as it sounds?
Working in the human and psychology is an integral part of the job. To try to concern everyone, it is essential. Christophe Galtier and Jean-Louis Gasset have taught me something fundamental: we must always involve those who play less and be close to them. These are the players who have the most difficulty. Those who play regularly have theoretically less need for attention.

Would you say that the new generation is harder to manage?
There is no generational problem from my point of view. I was a player and already in my time, no one liked being a substitute. Although it's true that now young players want a lot of things and maybe want them faster than before. Psychology is in any case at the heart of our profession, regardless of the age of the players we are dealing with.

"There are things to take in all disciplines"

What do you like most about this job?
The collective aspect of this sport, working with a group, already. It's great to share things, including victories, with his players. After, beyond that, I love to offer them things during sessions, try to surprise them. I also like to observe the opponent and try to put things in place that will annoy him, find the little trick. It's a set of things. The coaching profession is a transversal, global profession.

Are there any teams that you particularly like, in Europe or elsewhere?
I watch a lot of matches, especially those of the foreign championships. In some countries, the game is more open than it is here. Elsewhere, it is sometimes very tactical. We can not always compare ourselves with others, especially with clubs that have a lot of money, but we can always make a few loans from right to left. There are things to take in everyone and in all disciplines. In any case, I do not have a favorite team whose copy I would try to copy. It would be absurd, for example, to try to copy Manchester City.

You watch other sports?
I never restricted myself to football. I'm from Toulouse, so I watched a lot rugby, for example. In this sport, there are different strategies that are put in place to try to find spaces, it's interesting. In rugby, there is also the management side that is exciting to watch because you still have forty players to manage by season. I like handball, too. It's interesting to look at how the coaches try to move the opposing defense, especially to find the pivot. That's all these little things I like to observe. Even if I do not master the sport I'm watching, I try to feed on what I see.

It has a real impact on what you are trying to implement on the ground?
Be careful, I'm not a jerk. It's not because I'm watching rugby or handball that it's going to profoundly change the way I want to play. Most importantly, it's still football, but I feel like it brings me something. Especially since it is not only the terrain aspect that is interesting to observe. Some press conferences are exciting, for example.

"In Ligue 2, everyone can beat everyone. We must never fall into euphoria "

Which ones?
I am thinking in particular of Christophe Urios, the manager of the Union Bordeaux Bègles, in rugby. He is eloquent and very often says interesting things. Recently, I was also marked by an intervention by Laurent Tillie, the coach of the French volleyball team. In the preamble of the Euro (organized in France last September, Ed)he tried to play down things in front of his players and he finally managed to make them laugh. In a few minutes, he had managed to relieve the pressure. I could multiply the examples because there are many coaches whose work deserves to be observed.

Let's go back to Ligue 2, how do you judge this Championship?
Last Saturday, on the occasion of our trip to Lorient, I spoke with Christophe Pélissier and we thought that Ligue 2 was very homogeneous. Everyone can beat everyone. We must never fall into euphoria. Honestly, everyone works very well so it's hard to predict anything. Look at our results, we were able to beat Le Havre or more recently Lorient but also lose against Le Mans or Orleans, which are two teams ranked lower.

That does not prevent some observers from making ESTAC a believable pretender to the climb …
Everything is fragile. From there, I told my players that we would make a point in the thirtieth match, not before. In the meantime, the key is to put things in place and try to impose our game. While being able to adapt to the opponent when it is the best thing to do. In this very difficult Championship, you sometimes have to know how to do the round back. "

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