Fans of side avantgarde Caennaise cannot chant”that you don’t understand what you’re doing” at the director, simply because they’d be singing it at themselves.
Julien Le Pen is boss of the team, at the first grade of football that is French, and the 33-year-old has plenty of company in the world.
Greater than managers decide decisions such as in-game tactics, the team lineup and substitutions – that resembles the Football Manager simulation game in real life.
Nevertheless a French Football Federation judgment in December could threaten the whole concept…
2000 virtual managers – therefore who makes conclusions?
“Before, I used to select the team together with my two supporters, now I do it in collaboration with tens of thousands of people so that is the major difference,” Le Pen tells BBC Sport. “They create plenty of decisions a normal coach would create.”
The fans are famous as’Umans’ and control the team employing the United Managers’ program – .
Before the game Umans speak with players and staff and can choose the starting lineup, replacements, the formation, setpieces.
They vote using coins by using the program, they receive, or a subscription can be purchased by them. The longer a Uman performs with the game, the more weight that their vote may be worth.
Umans see the game go personally or streamed live on the program, with access to GPS data along with Opta stats, can vote the game plan and approve or refuse substitutions that Le Pen wants to create.
“It is filmed in a means that would be worth professional football,” says Le Pen. “Getting stats is unusual at this level too.”
After nearly all users have agreed a decision, it’s then relayed into Le Pen from the dug out, via his assistant, that wears a headset.
Instead, a decision can be recommended by Le Pen, however, the Umans have the power.
“I am still the boss, I am the link between your Umans and the team however if there’s a choice that should be made fast while there isn’t time to consult the Umans, I certainly can do so,” says Le Pen.
“There are no stationary rules around that, we merely use good sense on daily. The aim is the team plays.
“When there is a bug in the program, I would retake control. That hasn’t happened so far. The community has been amazing so far, they are supporting us not against us. It’s really a collaboration and that’s what’s so nice about the notion.”
‘Pride to a single side’ – how exactly can the boss experience doing it?
The collaboration seems to be working. The Normandy team are currently top of the Regional inch and won promotion last season.
Le Pen, who is in his first season as manager at the club, says he has to”put his pride to one side somewhat” at the job, but insists he is”pleased”.
“For me personally, being a boss isn’t just about making conclusions, it’s about working every day together with my own players,” he states.
“no one’s taken that work away from me personally, so thinking that managing is just about choosing players is wrong. That is why I state my occupation hasn’t changed because I am still the one who’s dealing together with the players every day.”
And up to now , he says, the Umans’ conclusions are”more or much less.”
“The team is competitive and that has been the aim, so the main aim has been validated so there’s no problem right now,” he’s.
Despite so many unique people helping to make key conclusions that are in-game, Le Pen chooses feels accountable for results.
“It will not change whatever, all the pressure is really on my shoulders, it’s me who’s on the side line with the me and players who’s training using them through the week.
“The strain and anxiety are always there and that’s part of their charm of this endeavor. The Umans don’t simply take away the worries of a game because that’s your own feeling on your day and that will never change”
The gamers’ perspective -‘I just disagree if they replace me’
“Like with an ordinary trainer, they are rarely joyful,” says Le Pen when talking replacing a participant.
“It is different because normally the participant understands it’s the trainer who is carrying them off, but in this circumstance it has many men and women that have decided to complete it.
“It is easier to just accept for the ball gamer and when someone’s caused it’s more flattering as it’s an entire community that thinks they should play”
Le Pen says that the United Manager partnership means the amateur team has been able to draw”players of a higher degree” and former professionals.
“The simple fact that the game is filmed and broadcast live, that the players are seen that provides more motivation,” he states.
Midfielder Nicolas Suzanne claims the collaboration played a”big factor” in him joining the bar at June 2018.
He says players tend to”provide even more” in training sessions, which the Umans can additionally see via the program, to be selected for the starting XI, but benefits the team.
“The goal in this project is to convince as many Umans as possible to participate of the group,” that the 29-year-old adds. “needing to provide the most useful at each practice to please the Umans attracts up the team in its performances”
During a game, Suzanne says players”don’t think too much about Umans”, until they’re substituted.
“When the city decides to replace me personally, I take action, it’s part of the game. We announced that the conditions by signing up for the undertaking, even though no one likes to be flourished,” he’s.
“Personally, I have not yet had a lot of disagreement with a decision made by the Umans except when they opt to replace me”
So what does an’Uman’ think?
“I manage a true football team and can’t begin a new game such as in a game,” says one Uman, who has the user name *ZenAGC*.
But it’s not just.
The community is a mix of fans, players’ relatives and football fans from different nations.
“You will find people from Belgium, from around Paris, by the South of France, from all over the region – we expect so on in England too,” says Le Pen.
“It is the first time a team at the division has been able to entice fans from beyond its village. The visibility of the team, the players as well as us the trainers on the internet and from the press as a result of United Manager is exceptional.”
“I didn’t know that club,” says ZenAGC*, that lives 180km from AG Caen and has been a Paris St Germain fan. “Today it’s my core club also I am more enthused about it than PSG.”
He watches every game live, even visiting see AG Caen at a Cup game that is French and spends up to an hour or so every day.
“It is not like being in my couch yelling. I can only blame myself as I have participated in all the votes. Because we’re a real community and I am not alone.
“The aim this season is to climb into National 3 [the fifth tier]. In case the target is achieved, I’ll tell myself that I would have participated a little in this accomplishment “
The backlash – why would it be under threat?
The concept have not been welcomed by rivals and Le Pen says the club’s recruiting and ambitions have”captured people’s backs up”, adding some presidents have”looked to throw a spanner in the works”
Opponents whined claiming economic damages and graphic rights. But the staff was allowed by the Normandy Football League.
But in December, the French Football Federation made new rulings that could directly undermine Caen’s concept. They:
- Prevent clubs out of establishing a partnership with a 3rd party to”iNFLuence the performance of its teams,”
- Prevent a thirdparty by”questioning the real duty of the team held by the top trainer” and
- Prevent the broadcast of live games without permission of the team.
United Managers insisting this won’t be the end of their collaboration with AG Caen and assert that rules mid-season cans not change, also have predicted the attorneys in.
They state they have yet to be contacted by the FFF and continue to be currently preparing for their second league game on 2-3 February.
“Many articles are especially introduced against a project and a team is most likely unprecedented in the history of French football,” United Managers said in a statement.
United Managers – that the company which conducts the program says the team will still continue to win and play promotion inspite of the”most barbarous adversity.”
By duplicating the idea at other clubs around the globe and the organization is hoping to expand internationally.
BBC Sport has contacted both the FFF and the Normandy Football League .
Additional translation and reporting by Becky Gray.