Is Reims’ manager Will Still destined to manage in the Premier League?
When it comes to recruiting managers, very few Premier League clubs tend to think outside of the box. Although Brighton and Brentford are amongst the small cluster of clubs who can be commended for their approach to hiring head coaches, the majority of sides tend to opt for tried and tested top-flight operators or high-rated coaches from Europe’s most successful outfits.
Nevertheless, there are a few Premier League owners who may be keeping a close eye on developments in North East France.
With the imminent restructuring of the division, there are a number of sides who are desperately trying to avoid one of the four relegation spots this season, however, Stade Reims’ recent form means that Les rouges et blancs aren’t likely to find themselves
battling for safety during the final few months of the campaign.
Reims sit comfortably in mid-table despite their relatively small budget and their recent success can be attributed to one man: William Still. The 30-year-old Belgian-born Englishman has overseen a remarkable run of form with his side collecting an impressive 17 points from his first nine matches in charge. Although their games haven’t been particularly entertaining, Reims have become incredibly tough to beat and have conceded just four times under Still’s tutelage.
Although they were tipped to struggle this season, Reims are now closer to the European spots than they are to the relegation zone. Savvy punters have cottoned on the fact that this side has been transformed following the managerial change, although they are often still underrated by online bookmakers. They have conceded the first goal in just one of their last 11 games whereas each of their last four wins have seen them notch the opener. With most UK betting apps offering live in-play odds on all Ligue 1 matches, backing low-scoring Reims matches has proven an incredibly popular approach for French football punters.
Still speaks regularly about his obsession with playing Football Manager on the family computer as a teenager, however, his first proper experience in the game came at Preston North End where he began coaching the Under-14s whilst simultaneously studying at nearby Myerscough College. Upon his return to Belgium, he offered his services to a number of clubs with Sint Truiden’s Yannick Fererra being the only manager to give him the time of the day. Having started filming matches and providing video analysis, the former PNE coach soon found himself on the turf and was asked to put on regular sessions for the players.
After spells in the second tier with Lierse and Beerschot, Still was headhunted by Reims who were searching for an assistant to former Brighton head coach Oscar Garcia. When the Spaniard was fired in October 2022, Still was installed, albeit on a temporary basis, as his replacement. His first game in charge came against leaders PSG and his side managed to keep the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi off the scoresheet for 90 minutes for the first time this season.
Which Premier League Clubs are likely to take a Chance on Will Still?
Although Brighton are the obvious candidates, Still’s tactical nous and ability to edge tight games may not suit the Seagulls’ proactive style of football. Teams threatened with relegation may be the best fit for this promising young coach due to his ability to frustrate the opposition. If Nathan Jones’ tenure at Southampton doesn’t work out, the Saints could do a lot worse than cast their eyes across The English Channel whereas neighbours Bournemouth could also benefit from his know-how and ability to shut up shop.
West Ham are another club who have been tentatively linked amid speculation about David Moyes’ potential departure. Alternatively, newly promoted sides may also. be tempted to take a chance on this bright young tactician, however, at just 30 years old, he still has plenty of time to enhance his reputation before potentially making his return to the UK.