Methodical. A workaholic. Mathematical and very precise. 

Those are the words of L'Equipe journalist Flavien Trésarrieu used to describe Sunderland's new head coach Regis Le Bris.

The 48-year-old French coach arrived on Wearside this week and has wasted no time in immersing himself with his new life at the Stadium of Light. Le Bris met members of staff at the Academy of Light on Thursday and spoke with fans for the first time, as the club opened the doors of the new club shop for supporters on Friday.

READ MORE: Sunderland mood transformed after new head coach, kit & store - Bruce

Le Bris, along with Kyril Louis-Dreyfus and Kristjaan Speakman were at the Stadium of Light, chatting with supporters who queued up to get their hands on the new home kit for the 2024/25 campaign. In just over a fortnight's time, the mood has drastically changed on Wearside.

Some will say it's fickle, while others have long grown tired of dwelling on disappointment, and others remain guarded. The time taken to get Le Bris through the door, combined with Lorient's disappointing relegation from Ligue 1 last season among the reasons behind that scepticism. Wherever you sit on the scales, supporters have one thing in common, they're all keen to see how this will play out.

We Are Sunderland spoke with Trésarrieu, Lorient reporter for L'Equipe, for an exclusive insight into Le Bris' character, life at Lorient, relegation and why he won't be a 'yes man.'

The 48-year-old had a playing career at the top level in France, a former defender for Stade Rennais before moving to Stade Lavallois and then K.S.K. Ronse in Belgium.

After retiring from playing in 2003, Le Bris moved into youth coaching at Wasquehal Football in Northern France. He would spend a year at the club before moving back to Stade Rennais, coaching in the youth set-up of Les Rouge et Noirs for eight years.

In 2006, Le Bris obtained a doctorate in sport physiology and biomechanics at Rennes 2 University, before graduating with a DU in mental training of high-level athletes from the same university in 2010. All while working as a youth coach at Roazhon Park.

"He is an original coach," Trésarrieu revealed. "He’s into very different styles. He’s keen on learning and trying to find ways to improve his ability and have new ideas as a coach.

"For example, in the last few years he’s been to different countries – to Spain and Germany – in order to see how things are being done in other countries. It’s food for thought.

"In Lorient, in France, we often compare him with Christian Gourcuff, he used to be a famous coach in France. He’s quite mathematical as a coach, very precise, very methodical. He’s a workaholic.

"He works a lot. That’s the type of coach he is. He’s a coach that knows exactly what he wants to do. He wants the members of his staff and the people at the club to do and apply things the way he likes.

"He’s not a dictator but he likes people to work and invest into the work they do. If everyone gets along, it can be marvellous. He can be a great coach with great members of staff, but they have to get along."

Sunderland's new head coach Regis Le Bris.Sunderland's new head coach Regis Le Bris. (Image: PA WIRE)

Le Bris would guide Stade Rennais to an Under-18 national title and victory in the Coupe Gambardella, France’s equivalent of the FA Youth Cup.

But, Le Bris would leave Stade Rennais in 2012, moving to Lorient, which would act as a defining moment in his coaching career. Heralded as being the mastermind behind building Les Merlus academy, producing high profile talents like of Matteo Guendouzi and Illan Meslier to name just two, Le Bris was beginning to make a name for himself.

"He spent ten years as the head of the academy in Lorient," Trésarrieu continued. "They didn’t have much before he arrived. He applied things his own way based on his experience as an ex-player and at the academy in Rennes, which is a bigger club in Brittany.

"He developed really strong foundations which helped develop players like Matteo Guendouzi, Alexis Claude Maurice, who are players that worked really well. People like Enzo Le Fee who plays for Stade Rennais, a guy like Illan Meslier of Leeds United.

"It’s a small academy, with little budget, but they’ve done things brilliantly and that’s really thanks to him. At some point he decided to jump into professional football and as a professional coach he was inspired by what Frank Haise has done, who just left Lens for Nice this summer.

"They used to work together at Rennes and Lorient. He realised he could be a good coach in professional football and passed he BEPF, which is the perfect diploma to be a coach in France."

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When Christophe Pélissier left Lorient in 2022, it was a no brainer to see Le Bris take the plunge into professional football. 

"Although the previous coach was someone that helped the club win promotion to the first division in Ligue 1, it was quite a natural decision for the President to appoint Regis Le Bris, as he knew the club perfectly,"  Trésarrieu said.

"It was a natural and noble succession and it clicked very, very early with players. What shocked players, in a good way, was the way he explains what he wants from them. Where he wants to go – he’s always got a precise plan of where he wants to go.

"He’s not Guardiola but he likes to play with an offensive style of football. He knew at Lorient he couldn’t play like Barcelona, Manchester City or an attractive club. With the qualities his team had, it was to defend well and be able to go fast in transition, to get long balls to the opponent’s goal.

"It was never just long-ball and that’s it, it was a circuit of passes. It was really attractive and quite brilliant, that’s how they finished in tenth position."

Regis Le Bris' Lorient take on Bournemouth in a pre-season friendly in 2023.Regis Le Bris' Lorient take on Bournemouth in a pre-season friendly in 2023. (Image: PA Wire)

Le Bris guided Lorient to a respectable 10th placed finish in Ligue 1 at the end of his first full season in charge their second highest finish in their history. For perspective, Les Merlus' highest ever finish was seventh, back in 2016.

"They had good players," Trésarrieu added. "They had players that bought into his project and even though most of them were really young, his experience in the youth teams really helped. He had that science to convince the players to give everything for him.

"It really worked well, especially with Terem Moffi, the Nigerian international who signed for Nice. They had to let two major players go, Moffi one of those for €30million and Dango Outtara who signed for Bournemouth at the same time.

"They were good sales for Lorient, but as a project, the team was really weakened by that and Le Bris was angered by the decision of his president. He’s not the type of guy who is going to say that to the press and make it public, but in private it was quite hard.

"They finished tenth with a good team and all the players were into that project because they felt connected as a team. They always felt he could improve them individually as players. There’s nothing better for a player to know where he can improve so he plays better, or can move to a better club."

READ MORE: Sunderland can't afford Régis Le Bris appointment to fail

There's a perception among some supporters, that Le Bris will be a yes man. Happy to bow down to any pressure from those above him at Sunderland, but his time at Lorient suggest that'll be far from the truth.

Trésarrieu said: "He can be a bit political but not all the time. He’s quite direct as a person, sometimes he can be a bit too frank and that’s how the last season was difficult. Sometimes he’s maybe too straightforward for people in football.

"The players didn’t connect enough and there were a few fights in the dressing room last season. The team had changed and he’s not the type of guy who is going to hide behind things. He’s not a coward. He says things frankly, maybe too frankly at times, that’s how he’s known in football.

"You have two types of people; those who really like the guy and his style of play and how he is straightforward, some others who will criticise him a lot because he’s got the profile and he’s not scared to say to people, that it didn’t work and it was someone’s fault because they didn’t do what was asked."

Regis Le Bris' (left) Lorient take on Bournemouth in a pre-season friendly in 2023.Regis Le Bris' (left) Lorient take on Bournemouth in a pre-season friendly in 2023. (Image: PA Wire)

We Are Sunderland has covered how Le Bris operated tactically during his time at the Stade du Moustoir, and there were a number of key players behind their success in 2022/23.

"In his two seasons, well in both seasons, you had the goalkeeper Yvon Mvogo who is the Swiss number two," Trésarrieu explained, with Mvogo key in playing out from the back under Le Bris. 

"He’s a really good goalkeeper. Montassar Talbi, the Tunisian international, there used to be Terem Moffi as previously mentioned, Enzo La Fee in the first season, he left and it weakened the team. Laurent Abergel who is the captain, who always works with the coaches no matter who they are."

Another player familiar to Le Bris, is Sunderland's Adil Aouchiche. The French playmaker joined the Black Cats from Lorient in the summer of 2023 and has had an indifferent first season on Wearside.

Contrary to speculation online, Trésarrieu rebuffed any suggestion of a fallout between Aouchiche and Le Bris as the reason behind the 21-year-old's transfer to Sunderland last summer.

"Adil Aouchiche, it’s quite difficult to say," he said. "I wouldn’t say they didn’t get along well, but it hasn’t always been great. Adil Aouchiche, when he signed at Lorient, he needed to bounce back on his feet and he needed game time in Ligue 1 and Regis Le Bris thought he was the right guy to develop as a player, but he needed more time.

"He wasn’t ready and at the end of the season he didn’t have much playing time. I don’t think there were a lot of arguments, some people will say they didn’t get along but I don’t think it’s personal.

"I think when they’re at Sunderland - I don’t think he’ll try to make him leave and I’m sure the experience will be different, because Adil has played more and developed as a player."

Sunderland playmaker Adil Aouchiche played under Regis Le Bris at Lorient.Sunderland playmaker Adil Aouchiche played under Regis Le Bris at Lorient. (Image: Ian Horrocks)

As Trésarrieu has explained, the departures of key players played it's part in Lorient's demise, but there were a number of mitigating factors that also impacted the campaign.

"Le Bris wanted to leave last summer because he didn’t feel he was in the right place, where he was being listened to and things weren't working well professionally," he said. "The president was less present. He lives in London and normally, he’s into the Lorient project, but he had personal problems and wasn’t as present or as involved as he used to be.

"Le Bris didn’t get along with the general director who was scared to make big decisions, to tell him yes or no, he needed the agreement of the president, so it always took a lot of time and Le Bris felt that communication wasn’t good enough.

"Then, there was OGC Nice who wanted to sign him. He felt it was a good time to go there last summer. Loïc Fery, the Lorient president, wouldn’t let him go because he felt he was a really good coach and felt that he could be really optimistic about the coming years at Lorient with him as coach.

"He had a good image in the market. Le Bris wanted to leave, the president was doing everything to make him stay and it took some time for the season to start in good conditions. It was slow. Recruitment took some time.

"Fer said Le Bris had more power, but I’m not sure he had that much power. As soon as the results were getting bad, the president was lobbying to say that the responsibility was on his coach and it wasn’t a good atmosphere. The players weren’t as involved and there used to be fights.

"Le Bris, as I say, is quite straightforward and when you shock a player's ego, sometimes that doesn’t work well. That can lead to the season we just had. Lorient weren’t supposed to go down to Ligue 2. They had a big budget, bigger than before. Their biggest budget in history, but when things don’t go to plan it can lead to relegation."

READ MORE: Regis Le Bris handed Sunderland opportunity he must grasp

"It was no surprise to see him leave," Trésarrieu says. "It would have been a surprise last year because he wanted to leave, but he still had three years on his contract. That would have been surprising but this year it’s not the case.

"They were relegated. For Lorient to start a new project, he didn’t feel he was in the right project to bounce back and return to Ligue 1. Unfortunately, that’s football and you start a new project.

"They are still negotiating financial terms and all, but Regis Le Bris had an opportunity at Sunderland which is a good one for him."

With Le Bris' departure from Lorient confirmed, Sunderland supporters were quick to look at the responses from Les tangos et noirs faithful, which were largely negative.

However, social media isn't always the best gauge of fan sentiment at a club, as Black Cats' supporters know themselves.

"At first, they [the fans] were really happy to come to the stadium and see Lorient play under him two years ago," Trésarrieu explains. "The stadium was always completely full, which is not something that is that usual at Lorient, especially in the previous years with the previous coach, even though they had good results.

"It was always very defensive and quite boring to be honest. Under Le Bris, there was more excitement, more enthusiasm, people were proud and happy to go to the stadium. They were proud as Lorient had good results as they finished tenth.

"The first half of the 2022/23 season was great. They were second in the league, there was only PSG above them. They had six marvellous months with Terem Moffi who scored all the goals, Dango Outtarra, then these two guys got sold and the project started to become completely different at the halfway point of the season.

"It was more difficult for them and they were more anonymous. They weren’t as exciting. They finished tenth. This season it was difficult and there was lobbying against Le Bris within the club.

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"The supporters still went to the stadium because they felt that there was something to be done and that they could avoid relegation. Now, they feel it’s a complete waste. The whole project.

"Some think it’s Le Bris’ fault as the coach, while some are more neutral, blaming the coach, the players, the president, the whole club."

Will he be a success at Sunderland? Time will tell.