If AS Monaco started a series of victories with three consecutive successes, it is probably because their players are better in the head. Off the field, he has recently focused on “team building”, which means group cohesion. A will from Monegasque coach Philippe Clement.
A basketball hoop has been installed at the training center adjacent to the canteen since the arrival of a Belgian technician. It may sound anecdotal but it represents one thing: Philippe Clement wants to make La Turbie a place to live. “I don’t want it to be a factory where everyone comes in and then leaves,” he explains. “I want to have a family, to do special things together.
In that sense, the coach called his players last week (Tuesday) not for training but for a very special outing: a paintball session. “It’s something he was already doing in Bruges,” says Tomas Taeke, a follower of Philipp Clement’s former club Het Latte Nieuws. “At the end of October, he was shot in the throat during paintball and laughed at press conferences. He also held paddle tournaments because he had a field on campus but he did so elsewhere. In Belgium, he was known as Lets do this kind of work. Before that the coaches of Bruges, Michel Priedholm and Ivan Leko, were quite authoritarian, shouted a lot. When Clement arrived, it was calm not only for the club but also for all the staff. After the championship title, he always organized small events with the players and their families.”
Paintball and BBQ
If the names of the main victims of the paintball session are not filtered out, Joseph Fofana makes sure there were goals. “It was my first time, but the people were very comfortable, they were the ones who were targeted,” he said with a smile. After a series of poor results, Philippe Clement felt it was time to move on to an area he called “team building”. “It’s important to have a connection between the players,” admits the coach.
“The more you do things together off the pitch, the more you’ll want to do it on the pitch. I’ve heard many players say that they miss out on working together. Recently with COVID, the international break , it wasn’t easy.” The tempo of a European season left few opportunities for Monegasque to see themselves off the pitch, such as the Tchoumeni-Fofana doublet who is struggling to find a place to meet. “We try to go out from time to time but in recent months we have been playing every three days and going to the restaurant was difficult”, laughs another. “We wanted to do one next week but we’re playing against Nice on Wednesday. So it’s still postponed until May.” Others manage to make time. On Tuesday, German players Ismail Jacobs, Alexander Nubel and Kevin Woland specially went to the Monte-Carlo tennis tournament, invited by their compatriot Alexander Zverev, third in the world in the ATP rankings. “With Axel Disassi, we were waiting for Tsonga or Monfils, but it didn’t matter,” laughs Fofana. “We’ll try to get there on Sunday for the final.”
Philippe Clement’s idea doesn’t stop at harmony between players, it’s a club he wants to unite. While paintballs were flying between members of the professional group, the club’s staff were playing a match at La Turbie with some of the staff members and the performance unit. At the end of the day, it was around a barbecue that the two groups met. “Having this dinner allowed us to strengthen ties with people working in communications, with gardeners, cooks, security.” Yusuf Fofana makes sure after Kevin Woland. “Having good energy is always a good thing,” said the German striker. “We work out together every day, we see each other in the center on the field or in the locker room but then everyone goes their own way. Being together, being able to talk among teammates and friends It was really nice, with whom we are less accustomed to discuss, the staff but all the people who work for us, to discuss not just football but also personal life. This is the first time we’ve had this kind of thing. It worked. I think it worked because we won the following game”.
fact after effect
After this day, AS Monaco effectively emerged from the post-break with two victories against poorly ranked teams (Metz, Troyes), which they struggled to beat before failing to measure up against direct competitors. “We are a young team and winning many matches is not necessarily a new situation for some players, even for the oldest”, recognizes Kevin Woland. “We were in a bad situation, sometimes unlucky and sudden disappointment, which people think too much. Team building helps us a lot.” Satisfied with the effect of the operation (short-lived for the moment), Philippe Clement plans to renew the experience. “I still have other ideas for the next months”, admits the Monegasque coach. “It’s important to work hard and so do players, but you also have to do fun things.” What if the route to Europe passed through there?