Herve Renard: From Cambridge United to conquering Lionel Messi’s Argentina with Saudi Arabia at the World Cup in Qatar

As the Saudi Arabia gamers revelled in the jubilation of the crowd following their shock 2-1 win over Argentina, head coach Herve Renard was comparatively calm. A two-time Africa Cup of Nations winner, he’s no newcomer to this stage.

But earlier than these triumphs, earlier than guiding Morocco to their first World Cup in 20 years, and earlier than this historic win, Renard was coach of Cambridge United. It appears incongruous that his time there ended in the sack – and relegation from the Football League simply months later.

But if anybody thinks this was some disastrous fish-out-of-water story, the story of a foreigner ill-prepared for the thud and error of English soccer’s decrease leagues, then assume once more. Speak to those that have been there at the time and there’s no trace of shock that Renard has gone on to take pleasure in a lot success. He left fairly an impression at the Abbey Stadium.

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Herve Renard says his crew have made footballing historical past by beating Argentina

Everyone from groundsman Ian Darler to supporter liaison officer Dave Matthew-Jones appears to have fond recollections. Former Cambridge full-back Warren Goodhind remembers an “unbelievable” supervisor, whereas his outdated team-mate Shane Tudor regards Renard as “the perfect head coach” – maybe the greatest that he has ever labored with.

“He was a guy who transformed the club in many ways,” Tudor informed Sky Sports. “The greatest manner to describe it’s like when Arsene Wenger went to Arsenal. It was the same affect to that in phrases of food regimen and vitamin. I keep in mind that even his youngsters didn’t drink coca cola. In phrases of his concepts and his teaching methodology, he was distinctive.

“Don’t get me fallacious, Herve might fall out with you. He was passionate and he would get in your face however there was all the time a reasoning behind it. That was the distinction. He would get the greatest out of you nevertheless it was intense and there was no let up with him. It may be draining after some time however that’s most likely why he does so effectively at worldwide stage.

“He is probably a football club’s dream, to be honest, because he is a workaholic. He would run for hours every day and spend three hours in the gym. It would put the players to shame. In pre-season we were up at 5.30 in the morning and did three sessions a day so he got us fit and organised. He certainly got me properly fit and I learned a lot from him.”

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For Goodhind, the strictness of that health regime was coupled with a private contact that he has not forgotten to today. “When we came in for pre-season, I remember playing a game up at Soham,” he informed Sky Sports. “I picked up a really bad injury. It was a partial tear of the adductor tendon in my groin. I cannot tell you how painful it was.

“I went to see a specialist down in Bournemouth and once I got here again for rehab to do the working by myself, he would run with me earlier than he started the session with the remainder of the gamers. I simply thought that was good. He needed the greatest for everybody and his health work modified us utterly as gamers in phrases of how we ready. He had a huge impact.”

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Initially, that was obvious on the pitch too. Renard was launched alongside veteran coach Claude Le Roy in March 2004 with the membership having misplaced 5 of their final six video games and in hazard of being relegated. The turnaround was swift. Cambridge misplaced solely one among their final eight matches. “They just lifted the place,” stated Matthew-Jones.

There was nonetheless some confusion, nevertheless. Le Roy was the one with the popularity at the time, an Africa Cup of Nations winner himself with Cameroon who had additionally held roles at AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain. He was the man launched as the new supervisor, with chairman Gary Harwood claiming it was the most enjoyable appointment in the membership’s historical past.

Unfortunately, Le Roy noticed it in a different way. He insisted that he had solely agreed “to help out a little bit” in help of his protégé Renard. He didn’t attend the first two video games. There have been even rumours that he had assumed the stadium was the coaching floor. “I think they thought it was something that it wasn’t,” added Matthew-Jones. “They probably expected more.”

Herve Renard throughout the match between Saudi Arabia and Argentina

Le Roy grew to become the new Democratic Republic of Congo supervisor in the summer season of 2004, retaining the title of director of soccer, with Renard formally put in cost. But the lack of essential gamers undermined his efforts and Cambridge might solely win three of their first 21 video games. Renard was dismissed in December with the membership backside of the desk.

“He was probably dealing with players who frustrated him because they could not do what he wanted them to do,” stated Tudor. “If he’d had a director of football alongside him who knew the league and brought in quality players he’d have been a master coach. But imagine moving to the lower leagues of France and having to find 15 players. You would struggle.”

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“Everyone was excited for the start of the following season but it just never worked,” agreed Goodhind. “We lost a lot of key players and it was tough. It was probably a bit of a shock for him and I was gutted that things didn’t work out. His hands were tied a little bit because you can only work with what you have got. Once he left, it all fell apart.”

Despite returning to a extra conventional lower-league fashion, Cambridge failed to win any of their subsequent 12 video games following Renard’s departure. Things have been little higher off the subject. A ten-point deduction was imposed once they went into administration that April and relegation adopted. The membership wouldn’t return to the Football League for nearly a decade.

There are nonetheless some survivors of Renard’s time. Darler stays the stadium supervisor and head groundsman. From the glory days underneath John Beck to the struggles and subsequent revival, he has seen all of it throughout 43 years with the membership. But he has nothing however reward for Renard. “He was easy to work with which is probably all you can ask for in my job,” he informed Sky Sports.

“From the minute he arrived he was very flamboyant and very professional. He was a really nice person and he knew exactly what he wanted to do. Herve wanted us to be a footballing side but obviously it was quite short-lived. I think perhaps if he had been at a club that was better set up for the bigger stage then he could have done a really good job.”

Renard has that stage now. Lionel Messi’s Argentina overwhelmed. And Cambridge United supporters maybe left questioning simply what might need been. “Herve was probably the right person at the wrong time,” concluded Matthew-Jones.

A model of this text first appeared on Sky Sports in 2018

Sourse: skysports.com

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