Régis Le Bris has met the media for the first time since being appointed as Sunderland's new head coach last month. 

The Frenchman arrived from Lorient on a three-year deal, ending a prolonged search for a new permanent head coach at the Stadium of Light following the departure of Michael Beale last season. 

The 48-year-old officially started his new role on July 1 in time with Sunderland's players returning for pre-season duty with the focus now on preparations for the new Championship campaign which begins with a trip to Cardiff City next month.

Here is every word from Le Bris' first press conference as Sunderland's new head coach including details of his appointment, his style of play, ambitions and backroom staff additions: 


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How have the first couple of days in charge of Sunderland been?

I’m happy to be here and very happy to be on the pitch also, because it’s my job to be with the players on the pitch. Obviously, for me, it’s a great opportunity to be here in this club because of the mentality, the methodology, the fans, the facilities and the culture.

I wanted to train abroad, it was a focus [of mine] and this opportunity is very exciting, so I’m in this mindset at the moment.


Did you have anywhere like Sunderland in mind when you say you wanted to coach abroad?

For me, at the beginning, it was the question of the project. If I want to express myself, if I want to be the best version of me, I need to find a project which is aligned with this idea. So, when I had this opportunity, it fits really well.

It wasn’t an objective for me to be in a prestigious club, but it is here and with this opportunity it’s incredible for me. The fans and the environment around the club is very exciting and the energy of the city, the people around it and the organisation is a great, great strength of this club.


Most people look at Sunderland and see a Premier League club playing in the Championship. Is the aim to get the club back up to the Premier League?

Yes. The history is very important for the fans and we all expect this objective can happen quickly, but we need to build some strong foundations because football at that level is very high and we need to be a very strong club and organisation, with a very strong team and a very strong coaching staff to be able to compete at that level.


It took quite a long time to appoint you as new head coach, is there an element of having to play catch-up because of that?

We search for the ideal situation, but it never happens. It’s a complex process to find a new coach and a complex process to find a new coaching staff – a complex process to recruit players – and we would like to be in the best situation but it never happens. We have to deal with it.


Do you have a plan to bring with you any backroom staff?

We have a process of interviews, which is happening right now so at the moment I can’t say anything. But, for the whole organisation, it’s the goal to work with the best team-mates on the pitch [and staff] out of the pitch, so we are searching for some opportunities and the process is running.


So it’s not a case of you bringing any of your previous team you have worked with in France?



What have you made of the playing squad so far?

It’s a talented team. It’s very young. The last two seasons were very interesting for the experience. Sometimes they were good on the pitch, sometimes they were not good on the pitch – that experience is very important.

It’s not always linked with the age, you can be very inconsistent without being 30 or 35. Now the mindset is to improve. The mindset is to believe as a team. The competition is very hard and very tough, so we need humility also. But the willingness and commitment to improve is the best advice I can give to the team.


I guess your homework was helped by the Sunderland documentary on Netflix, did you watch it?

Yes, it was very interesting. As we said before, a club and a team can have different experiences. Sometimes it can be wrong, sometimes it can be good. The structure and the organisation must be very strong in order to compete at that level. I think all of these experiences this club have had before help to build stronger foundations and now we want to have an objective and have better feelings with our fans, our style of play, our team and winning.


What have you made of the welcome, so far?

It was great. I like the feeling of the fans because I think we can play with 12 players if they are with us and they understand our commitment and our style of play. The possibility to meet the fans and be close to them was very interesting and it’s not difficult for me because I was in the stands when I was young. I like the way the fans enjoy the game.


What is it about the Sunderland project?

There are many things. I’ve experienced many problems and many strengths but I think the vision is very important. Here, with the owner and the sporting director, they are very clear on the way they want to pilot the club. The whole organisation is strong and very clear in their goals. So for me, that was the first step.

We also needed to be clear about the identity of the club and what we want to do together and how we want to achieve our goals, and these ideas are very clear. After, there was another layer, we as a team, as a coaching staff and the whole of the staff surrounding the team are very well organised. If we have this structure, we can train and exploit our strengths. The whole team and identity are very linked and this provides a high strength.


How long will it take the team to get them to play the way you want them to play?

I don’t know. It’s hard to say because I’ve only had four training sessions and the main part to assess at this point is the games. We’ll have a game in 10 days, which will be the first step, and then during the camp in Spain we will have another game. It depends on many, many things so it’s difficult to say.

I want to feel the energy, I want to feel the willingness to be a team and then after we will have many problems because the opponent can be strong, and maybe better than us, but if the mentality is good, that’s the first step to improving and where we can solve problems on the pitch.


Recruitment is obviously key now, are you comfortable with the clarity of the model here?

I’m comfortable with the process right now. We’ll not know the results because this part of our work is very complex. The team is young but as I’ve said before, in the two previous seasons with young players they gained some experience which is good for the next season.

We are thinking about one or two more experienced players who know the Championship, for example. Players who have high standards in their way of training, their way of playing and the ability to pilot the team during the game. These kinds of players could be young, they could be older, we have all of these ideas in our brain. Then we have a market which can be very difficult but I think with the quality of the organisation we will have a good team at the end.


Will you have any say on who comes into the team?

We have some meetings everyday about the team. Here, the club wants to understand my game model and the way I can assess the players and also, because they know the players, they bring me some information. We are working together. Then we train, which is a very important step because some players could have the answers to training methods and others haven’t responded the same way. So, we need to experience this together. Maybe in two or three weeks we will see how it evolves.


Are you confident there will be a striker in the building by the end of the transfer window?

Everyone can score goals. If the responsibility is on the striker, it’s always difficult. We know this position is always very important for the team and the club, and the organisation is aware of this. We will see. We know it’s important to be efficient, but we are clear about the needs of this team.


Are you confident this team can play the style of football you like to play?

I think so. We are working on the game model for the start of the season and I think the ideas are clear, shared and understood by the players. They can produce many things but all of the players have a style of play, so we need to adapt to be able to use their strengths. But I think this team can press high up the pitch – they did well in many games last season, it just wasn’t consistent enough.

The technical ability is high so we can have fast attacks, maybe six, seven, eight passes to reach the goal but also, we can control the game. So, it’s a question of balance. If we share this intention, I think we can have a very energetic game which I hope will be exciting for the fans.


What does success look like for you this season?

The first target is the style of play in order to win – it’s really the purpose of a professional team. It’s not another objective. We know we need some steps to achieve this main goal. So, the improvements, the mentality, the willingness to improve is also the most important thing. This is the mindset. If the mindset is there and we can feel it, and then the vision. The joy of this season will be unpredictable. But if we have a clear vision of how we want to build this team, it will be useful.


Which coaches do you admire and look at?

There are many, many coaches because we can find many ideas. Now we have more access to videos and wide angles which is very useful to understand the ideas.

I liked Guardiola when he was at Barcelona, for example, De Zerbi when he was at Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk. We won’t play like Guardiola or De Zerbi, because we are Sunderland and I’m Régis Le Bris, but these ideas help us to find inspiration on how to solve problems. For example, how to build the game from the goalkeeper, some coaches are very strong in this phase so we can use their principles sometimes and try to implement it into our way of thinking.


Is this a match made in heaven given your emphasis on working with young players and how Sunderland like to operate?

Yeah, it’s one of the main reasons for us to meet each other, I think. I knew there was interest about coaches who are able to develop young players and improve the team. I was searching for this kind of vision, and this kind of organisation, to be able to improve a team. It’s a way of thinking. You can buy many players and put them on the pitch with their talent but in France, when I was at Rennes and with Lorient, our ideas as a club was always about development.

For 20 years I’ve been this kind of coach and I improve the model, I improve with my team and my team-mates and different staffs. It explains why we are here together because this is my methodology and this is the way of developing the club here at Sunderland.


What is it about this club and these fans you are looking forward to?

As a coach in Ligue 1, we had some games where we felt we were 11 against 12 and at Lens or Marseilles, for example, when the fans are really connected with the team and the club, the belief in the way of playing can provide a high level of energy to the team, and the opponent can feel it. So, when momentum can happen during the game, maybe we can have 20 or 30 per cent more energy and inspiration. I hope will can use this energy [from our supporters].


What are your expectations?

The expectation is about the process. The results are always uncertain. If we focus on the team and the vision, it’s the best way to attain the best results as possible.


The history of Sunderland shows there has been a lot of change in recent years, how do go about ensuring that record changes and you can stay here for a long time?

This job is very unstable. We all know that we need some results, we need some confidence and we need some support to achieve our goals. So, it’s always uncertain and we need to accept this as a coach.

It’s different when you are a director of an academy, for example. I believe in the process and I believe in the vision, so I am confident, but obviously we need to be lucky sometimes and we need to work hard and believe in the hard work.