After Óscar García was sacked as Stade de Reims manager on October 13th, 2022, Will Still took the reigns as the caretaker. After five games without a loss, he was appointed manager until the end of the season. At 30 years old, Still is the 4th youngest manager in Ligue 1 history, but how did Football Manager fuel his success?
Who is Will Still?
Will Still manages 8th place Stade de Reims in Ligue 1. He was born and raised in Belgium by English parents. In a BBC interview, Still describes a real melting pot of culture in his past.
This unique homelife brought about one of Still’s most invaluable skills: fluency in different languages.
Still speaks of an intuitive grasp of how to transition between languages and states it “100%” helps him create a stronger bond with his players.
I never make a conscious effort to say ‘Will you’ve got to say that in French’ or ‘You’ve got to say this in English’ it just sort of comes out and, thankfully, the message gets across.
In another interview with The Coaches’ Voice, he speaks about his obsession with football from a young age and how this bred a natural relationship with Football Manager.
I was probably about 8 or 9, just getting to grips with how the famous space button on the keyboard works. There is nothing better than picking your team, doing your line up, setting the training schedule out and playing that game. Even if it’s virtual. So yeah, indirectly, it must have had some sort of impact somewhere down the line. Because it’s basically what I do day in day out now.
After realizing, at around 18, that a career in professional football was unlikely, Still decided to try his hand at coaching.
He went to England, secured a degree in football coaching, and gained valuable experience coaching Preston North End’s under-14 squad.
When speaking to The Coaches’ Voice, the Reims manager details his thought process when deciding to get into coaching.
There’s so much more than just playing. You can be a video analyst, you can be a scout, you can be a physio, you can be a physical prep, you can be whatever you want. And coaching was, to me, the closest adrenaline buzz that you get from being a player. Well, it’s the most sort of similar.
Still describes his coaching style as “enthusiastic” and emphasizes a desire for proactivity. Don’t wait for things to happen. Make them happen.
Reims are on a six-game-unbeaten run and have lost just once since appointing Still. Managing a 1-1 draw with European juggernauts Paris Saint Germain during that time.
It’s All Fine
This purple patch of form for the team will perhaps soften the blow for Reims forking out €25,000 ($26,476.98) in fines per match to have their manager in the dugout. Still has not yet completed his UEFA Pro License Certification, the most advanced level of coaching certification.
UEFA’s regulation states managers must have their UEFA Pro License before managing top-flight sides. Reims have appealed for a derogation to the rule as their manager has proved himself more than qualified, but it remains unclear what the outcome will be.
Since he did The Coaches’ Voice interview quoted above, which Football Manager sponsored, everyone has wanted to know about Still’s connection to the game. Perhaps a wise move from their marketing team has caused speculation.
Still has been keen to play down this connection, not wanting to be branded the ‘Football Manager football manager.’ But, he does admit the game has affected his career path.
Whatever was to do with football, I wanted to be a part of and Football Manager was a different side of it. It was doing the transfers, creating a team and the game has evolved so much and it’s become so realistic and so, sort of, close to reality. That yeah, probably, somewhere it was part of me wanting to be a coach. Or, maybe it just pushed me into the thinking of there’s more than just playing.
Reims’ run has the football world buzzing about Will Still and how far he can go in the football world. However, the West Ham fan is keen to keep his head on his shoulders and focus on what is in front of him right now.
If someone had told me back then that I’d be head coach of a Ligue 1 side by the time I was 30-years-old… I’d have told them to punch me in the face because that’s totally ridiculous. But I’ve never really set any boundaries or set any goals or set any limits to what I want to do or what I can do. In a boring way I’ll take whatever my career chucks at me.
A very humble outlook for a man who must be on cloud nine right now. But, if Still can continue to produce the results he has been producing at every club he has taken the reigns of so far, it won’t be long until larger clubs snap him up. With his connections to England and his admission of lifetime West Ham United fandom, a move to the Premier League may not be a million miles away.