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FEATURE | What can Sunderland expect from Régis Le Bris?

FEATURE | What can Sunderland expect from Régis Le Bris?
FEATURE | What can Sunderland expect from Régis Le Bris?

Sunderland look to be on the precipice of appointing Régis Le Bris as their next manager. A year ago this would have been a move that would have been widely accepted as a great opportunity for both parties. However, the Frenchman’s stock has since fallen after he failed to keep Les Merlus in Ligue 1. 

Rumours had swirled since last December that Lorient would be looking at their options. The noise coming out of Stade du Moustoir was that the Le Bris had lost the dressing room with the club sat bottom of the table as they entered the winter break. However, they stuck with a manager who only months before had been linked with the Leeds and OGC Nice job vacancies. 

Lorient still believed in the promise of a manager with only a year and six months of experience as a head coach under his belt, and while results did improve they were still not good enough for the club to escape the drop down into the second division. It seemed imminent that Le Bris would be fired, but instead, Les Merlus will be collecting a compensation fee from Sunderland. 

Early promise in 2022/23 season attracts Sunderland

Le Bris showed flashes of brilliance in his first season in charge of Lorient. The club got off to a flying start to life under their new manager and were second in the table after the first 11 game weeks as Le Bris demonstrated a dynamic and flexible tactical system that managed to get the best out of academy products Enzo Le Fée and Dango Ouattara. However, their charge at the top dropped away as the season wore on and the club recorded a respectable 10th place finish. 

It was clear that his experience working with youth teams for the past two decades had allowed him to become perfectly placed to help a young squad (the third youngest in the league) uncover their potential. A facet that has likely played an important role in convincing Sunderland that Le Bris is the right man for the job, as in England he will be working with the youngest squad in the Championship. 

Player development has become mandatory in Sunderland and finding a manager who can appreciate that will ultimately be one of the guiding principles for the next few seasons, as these players develop and the club search for a return back to the Premier League. 

Lorient’s shocking relegation

There is an argument to suggest that Le Bris was provided with a poor hand by Lorient as they stripped away club assets both during and after his debut season in management. Outtarra and Terem Moffi were allowed to walk midway through the campaign, although Moffi was loaned back for the rest of the season as part of his agreement, while Le Fée was sold ahead of the new campaign to local rivals Stade Rennais

However, these sales helped the club bring in significant investments: Benjamin Mendy, Isaak Touré, Mohamed Bamba, and Formose Mendy among others. And as the new season began Le Bris was in charge of a club that had the eighth-highest budget in the league. There is no escaping the fact that relegation was a shocking failure. At no point in the season did it look like Le Bris had the means to turn results around and free the club from this fate. 

It makes it all the more surprising that Sunderland have swooped in for Le Bris at a point where there are still more questions than answers about his potential as a head coach. And ultimately this is the problem when attempting to consider what the English side can expect from a manager who has managed less than a hundred games at the senior level. 

GFFN | Nick Hartland