Paulo Duarte, who was announced as Le Mans’ head coach following the interim appointment of Arnaud Cormier, has already held his first press conference in charge of the Ligue 1 outfit. Duarte, a 40-year-old tactician, will join the Sarthe side but will also maintain his role as Burkina Faso coach until March 31, 2010.
“It’s an honour for me to join MUC72 today,” he explained to the press. “I have a sense of pride. It is with great pleasure that I responded positively to the proposal of [president] Henri Legarda. I always aimed to work in a major European championship and it is a great challenge that awaits me now Ligue 1. I had four interesting requests but it was Le Mans that convinced me.
“Of course, I knew the club and some players like [Thorstein] Helstad, [Modibo] Maiga, [Ibrahima] Camara and Gervinho. Le Mans are a team with many nationalities, good players who practice a game based on speed. They are young and competitive. It is also a club that has technical staff of quality and experience, such as Daniel Jeandupeux.”
Duarte, who was Jose Mourinho’s assistant at Uniao de Leira in Portugal, believes that holding down two posts will not prove problematic. “I know by heart the football players and Burkina Faso,” he explained. “I worked a lot to set up an organisation, now the machine works well and my presence is no longer required.
“Secondly, international games are played during breaks in the championship and therefore I will not be required to prepare the players of MUC. I will act just as a regular international player.”
Such arrangements are rare at the top level of the game; however, Guus Hiddink and Chelsea showed that the compromise can be successful, at least over a short period of time.
Duarte, who has signed a two-year deal, is tasked with lifting Le Mans after a poor end to the season, which almost saw them drop to Ligue 2.
Robin Bairner, Goal.com