Paulo Fonseca on Ligue 1: “It could easily compete with those considered to be the best leagues in Europe.”

Lille has had many exceptional coaches walk through the doors of the Domaine de Luchin, but Paulo Fonseca is undoubtedly as talented as any coach you could name. The Portuguese manager who currently has his team sitting in fifth place on the Ligue 1 table spoke with RMC about his experiences living in France and his thoughts on the league.

Adapting to life in a new country and a new league can be difficult even for a veteran coach. He spoke about the transition explaining, “It is a very quiet, very warm city. People are very friendly. Even if I have little time to enjoy it. I spend most of my time at Luchin, at the training center. When I can, I like to go for a walk downtown, to go to the park with my little one. The city is very pleasant.”

LOSC almost missed out on the former Shakhtar Donetsk coach to Tottenham if it had not been for reported financial setbacks. He spoke about the close move stating, “After my departure from Roma, everything was closed, everything was almost finalized but there was the arrival of a new general manager who opted for another coach. It was done at the last moment but that’s football. It is a matter of choice.”

While the 49-year-old manager has spent time in many other countries and leagues, he has never coached in Ligue 1. Fonseca spoke about his first impression of the French league, “Many things. Many things… First, I must say that I am very pleasantly surprised. By the quality of the game, and its openness, the game is open tactically. Second, there is great uncertainty in the results; there are many, many good players in this championship, with the emergence of many young people. And I really like the stadiums, the atmosphere in the stadiums, the way people experience the matches. And then there’s one thing we never talked about and which I liked, it’s refereeing. The quality and level of referees in France was a very pleasant surprise.”

The coach spoke about what he also saw as the negative of France’s top division, “The only thing I think is that people here have no concept of the real value of this championship and what it could be. We should perhaps value the French league more which, in my opinion, has the quality and the conditions to be one of the best leagues in Europe. It already is but if it were valued in the best way it could easily compete with those considered to be the best leagues in Europe. I have no doubt about that.”

The coach’s observation is an interesting point. While high taxes and television deals are a setback Ligue 1 supporters and players undervaluing the league may create a subconscious inferiority complex. With foreign coaches like Paulo Fonseca shooting for European success, that undervaluing may be a thing of the past.  


GFFN | Tony DesRois 

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