Just after winning his eighth and last national trophy (out of nine possible) at the head of PSG, on May 21, 2016 in the final of the Coupe de France against OM (4-2), Laurent Blanc warmly embraced his opponent from evening. Could he then imagine that he would be sitting alongside Franck Passi (because it is about him), six and a half years later, for his big comeback in Ligue 1, Sunday (3 p.m.) on the occasion of a Rennes-OL? In any case, if the Lyon leaders were interested in the idea of reconstituting the successful Blanc-Gasset pair in October 2019 for after Sylvinho, they understood that this was no longer relevant. Franck Passi had already succeeded the former Stéphane coach in the equation. Rudi Garcia was chosen on this one (not JMA, not only by Juninho), and it was therefore only a postponement for the Blanc-Passi duo, installed in charge since Sunday to straighten out a badly started new season (9th) with Peter Bosch.
Often mocked in a caricatural way for his propensity to benefit from the work of Jean-Louis Gasset as a “super assistant”, both in Bordeaux and in Paris, Laurent Blanc is therefore embarking for the first time on a major challenge without his lieutenant historical, current coach of Côte d’Ivoire. One of the unknowns is therefore there: after a very mixed record in 14 months with Al-Rayyan (3rd in the Qatari championship in 2021, then 9th last February at the time of his dismissal), can “the President” also be performing alongside Franck Passi than he was with Jean-Louis Gasset?
“Neither encroached on the role of the other”
To understand the strength of the Blanc-Gasset duo, we turned to their Bordeaux collaboration, marked by a title of champion of France and a Coupe de la Ligue in 2009, as well as a quarter-final of the Champions League in 2010. (against OL). For Thierry Delmeule, then a member of the medical staff, their “collusion” was obvious: “Laurent was more unifying, with great presence. But Jean-Louis had his hands more dirty and he gave more precise technical instructions. Even if he remained discreet, Jean-Louis took an important part in Laurent’s successes. Everything happened naturally in their relationship. Neither encroached on the role of the other”. Physical trainer of the Girondins during these three seasons (from 2007 to 2010), Eric Bedouet continues on the place that Lolo White can grant to his assistant coach.
It was not at all the same time: Laurent was starting this job, when Jean-Louis was already an experienced trainer. He therefore took a lot of advice from Jean-Louis, but I remember that he also quickly made strong decisions, both for changing players and for game choices. reinforcements that were needed, especially Alou Diarra then Yoann Gourcuff. Like Deschamps and Zidane, Laurent has this very high level experience, this extra thing that other coaches don’t have. And then it works hard with him. He didn’t give a damn about the critics believing that Jean-Louis was the real number one. With the career as a player and then as a coach he has, he is well above all that. What counts for Laurent is always winning. »
Coaching diplomas passed in Spain
This was not really there during her only experience in professional football for six years, in Al-Rayyan (Qatar), without anyone knowing what importance should be given to this passage in the Gulf. . And Franck Passi (56 years old), in all this, can he offer the same “win” and complicity ticket as Blanc-Gasset? “His style is surely different from that of Jean-Louis Gasset, specifies Elie Baup, who had him as assistant from 2012 to 2013 at OM. He passed his coaching diplomas in Spain and he has the fiber of possession football. On this, I have no doubt that they are in harmony with Laurent. They both want to have a technical mastery in the game.
It’s a safe bet that the interested party will closely watch the training sessions of the Pro 2 group, as well as the matches of N2. “In Marseille, he has always been very good at supporting young players who were discovering the professional group like Laurent Abergel [aujourd’hui au FC Lorient], says Elie Baup. He would set up additional workouts for them and he would rely on the video to help them. Between his desire for an attacking game and his interest in young players, he corresponds well to the history of OL. »
Several interims as number one
Friend of Laurent Blanc since the Montpellier training center in the early 1980s, with a shared title at the Euro hopes in 1988, this former professional midfielder at OM, Toulouse, Toulon or Bolton quickly convinced Elie Baup ten years ago at the Commanderie: “He is not someone who follows and who wears the studs, evokes the former coach with the cap. He brings his experience and his ideas, he was already asking himself a lot of questions to improve the team’s game. He was much more than a deputy in my eyes. This depicts “a person of integrity and very valuable for a head coach”.
A function that Franck Passi himself held several times, short and most often temporary, and this from the age of 36 in Santiago de Compostela (Spain). Then at OM (twice), Losc, Monaco and Niort (L2, in 2020), with 26 Ligue 1 matches played in total. In May 2017, he also announced that he was leaving Lille because he did not want to find an assistant position, even with Marcelo Bielsa, whom he had accompanied in 2014-2015 in Marseille. “Sometimes there are opportunities that cannot be refused: being the assistant of a very high level technician like Laurent Blanc, at OL, is not nothing”, observes Elie Baup. Even an OL in full downgrading for ten years actually has more mouth than a first collaboration with Al-Rayyan.
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