Having arrived at AS Monaco in 1984, Manu Dos Santos started his professional career in Red and White eleven years later. On July 25, 1995 to be exact, when he replaced Laurent Viaud in the 83rd minute of a derby against Nice, which the Red and Whites won 2-1. The defender was part of the side that were French champions the following year, in 1997. After two professional seasons at the Club, Manu Dos Santos then played successively for Montpellier, Marseille, Benfica (Portugal), before returning to the Principality between 2005 and 2007.
A great start to the season with the U17s
After a final season in Strasbourg, the left back puts an end to his professional career and became a coach-in-training. Since 2010, Manu Dos Santos has held various roles within the Academy of AS Monaco. He has most recently been in charge of the youngest generation at the Club, the U17s, who are currently in first place in their group with three wins from three to start the 2020-2021 season.
What is your assessment of these first ten years working in training at AS Monaco?
Above all, it has been ten years of sharing, which has allowed me to progress as a coach. You always have to adapt each year to a new squad, to a new generation that is coming through. Things move very quickly, there are a lot of differences between the generations, so you have to constantly question yourself, adapt to the way you manage the players. It’s also very enriching for me because I can share my thoughts as a player. That’s positive.
Is it important for the club to rely on coaches who have already known the academy as players?
Obviously, it is very important that the club lean on former players, in particular those who were trained at the club, and who have a high level of experience. AS Monaco’ academy has been around for a long time, it has been performing well for a long time, and relying on players who have this idea of the club’s culture, this experience in training, I think that is an asset. In today’s society where everything is party to globalization, having a strong identity here can make the difference.
The three of us exchange ideas quite a bit. Obviously I speak a little more with Toto (Sébastien Squillaci – ed.), because he has been my assistant for the past two seasons. We have daily discussions and it was really constructive because he is thirsty to learn, he had a lot of questions. It even allowed me to revisit some things that I had perhaps put aside because I took them for granted. It was a very interesting experience. With Gaël, we share a little less, since he is with the U19s. Despite this, we still try to talk about his motivation to learn but also the squad that I leave them with each year under the direction of Fred (Barilaro, the U-19 manager -ed.).
Tell us about the opening of the Diagonale, the new Academy building …
It is a very good thing. This allows us to catch up a little bit as we were behind some clubs, especially in terms of infrastructure. We were efficient in terms of work, but we must admit that we had fallen a little bit behind on the infratructure. That the club can invests in these sorts of thngs to afford even more comfort to our young people so that they can thrive, work and perform as well as possible is a very good thing. In our day-to-day work, it will also allow us to speak a little more with each other, because we are now all in the same place. It will also remove a lot of fatigue, thinking of the the trips we had been making to go to train. When you do the math at the end of the year, you realize that you spend a lot of time on the bus and that creates fatigue and less recovery time. In this regard, it is even more beneficial.
Things must have changed you a lot since you were a player here …
(Smiles) Certainly that has changed a lot since the days of pre-fab buildings at La Turbie. Already, there has been a breakthrough with the solid buildings that had been built. Now we are taking another step forward which will allow us to move into another dimension.
The more experiences that are shared, the more efficient we can be are in our work. And of course if we perform well, we get our players to be a little better, so I actually think that’s a very good thing for AS Monaco. Fred has 30 years of training experience, David also has a solid background, notably at PSG and then here at AS Monaco and we, with Gaël and Sébastien, try to bring our experience at the highest level. It’s a good mix of skills indeed.