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Montpellier Handball: “The field will be at the heart of our concerns this season”

Giorgi Tskhovrebadze, Stas Skube, Julien Deljarry, Patrice Canayer and Karl Konan. (©CN / Metropolitan)

It was back to school day Montpellier Handball this Wednesday, July 21. After a complicated previous exercise, the Hérault club has learned lessons and displays a new state of mind before attacking summer preparation and this new season who will score 40 years of the MHB. Humility and ambition are now the watchwords with the desire to refocus attention on field.

Sportsman first

“This season, the main thing will be to refocus Montpellier Handball at the heart of sport”. President of the MHB for three years, Julien Deljarry change of speech for this return. Because if the club has developed behind the scenes with economic, structural projects or the development of an ambitious CSR policy, on the ground, the team has experienced difficulties. “The end goal of everything we do is tobring as many people as possibleactor or not, around the MHB to go and find additional resources in order to have the best possible players to win. The objective is there, and has always been there” justifies Julien Deljarry.

The porosity between the various projects and the sports sector becoming too great, it was necessary to react internally. “When you talk to players and staff members, it’s the sporty first. Some players told us, and in particular the captain, that perhaps we spread ourselves a little too much”, explains Julien Deljarry, “Today, in the speech that we will have with the players, it will be the athlete before everything and perform on the pitch so that the rest can perform too. The land will be at the heart of our concerns this season “.

Same tone at Patrice Canayer : “It gave the impression that at one point, we were focused on a lot of things but not enough on the athlete. I think it’s more of a communication issue than reality, but we listened to what the players told us and we have to take it into account. Today, my speech will be much more focused on the athlete and I will leave the communication on all other subjects to the president. This does not mean that I will not go behind the scenes because there is a bit of work.

40 years of the MHB

A refocusing on the sportsman necessary at the dawn of a particular season for the MHB. “The club’s 40th anniversary is very important. This is close to our hearts as well as to the supporters and those who have contributed to building the history of this club. It will be thestepping stone birthday between our glorious past and the future that we continue to build, hoping for the most glorious possible” recalls Julien Deljarry.

An anniversary that the club is preparing and which will be celebrated throughout the season. “When I looked at the history of the clubs in Final 4, I tell myself that in the end we are twice as young as Kiel, almost three times as young as Veszprém but we too have two stars where many others do not. not. We are a young club with a very important track record, ”underlines Patrice Canayer, who gave Montpellier all their titles.

In 40 years, the club has won three Champions Trophies, ten league cups, thirteen French cups, fourteen French championships and two Champions Leagues. Still, the trophy cabinet has not been enriched since 2018. So the general manager warns: “We are not going to spend our year looking behind us. We want to use it to establish a bridge between the past 40 years and the future 40 years. This is a pivotal season between the past and the future”.

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A disappointing but not catastrophic season

However, there is no question of diving into this new season without having learned the lessons of the previous exercise. “In the history of the MHB, it will certainly not be a great season but it will not necessarily be a disastrous season. I would like, when the club is 100 years old, that we say to ourselves that it was the worst season for Montpellier” analyzes Patrice Canayer. Quarter-finalist in the Champions League and fourth in the French championship, he does not elude the observation: “It was a disappointing, irregular season but it was not a catastrophic season”.

Not the type to back down, he assumes self-criticism: “The coach was extremely frustrated, disappointed and angry, perhaps even excessively and this anger may have made me lose a little lucidity. Our preparation was very satisfactory, we had players with Olympic Games, who were performing, and I thought perhaps too naively that by bringing the two groups together, it would go quickly and well. It was not the case “. Under a climate of “Scottish shower” alternating prestigious victories on the European level and defeats in the league against lower-ranking teams, “we had to get our ideas back in place and a little for the players too”. The rest, we know.

Humility and ambition

Patrice Canayer based on the positive dynamics of the team hired in January, so no question of big sweeps in the group. “This experience of last season, both on what was positive and negative, must be the basis of our progress” he underlines. So for the first time, individual interviews were carried out with the players from the end of the season. “We did a thorough debriefing precisely so as not to forget what had happened, both positive and negative. So that it serves as a base for us, this season ”.

A progression that will obviously go through “the work that we have already put in place since January” but also, ” a little more humility. Before posting objectives, you have to look at the reality of things, a little humility in the work that you have to put in place and perhaps a little more humility at all levels. It will do us good”. However, Patrice Canayer intends to “keep our ambitions. And the link between ambition and humility is talent and hard work. Talent, we have it and for the work trust us”.

A speech in agreement with its president who on the state of mind calls for “maximum involvement, winning, commitment, showing humility and hard work. I remain convinced that it is necessary to perform and that the chain of victories brings a group in positive phases and behind to better performances”. Beyond wishes and incantations, Julien Deljarry wanted to provide the means to strengthen the team. “For two years our budget has increased a little and we had to arbitrate and even perhaps take risks. It is this season that I wanted us to take risks and that more than two thirds of the budget is allocated to the payroll of the players. This is also putting the athlete back at the center of our objectives,” he insists.

Remi Desbonnet, Karl Konan and Stas Skube, three internationals, have thus joined Montpellier, without forgetting the return of loan with an extension at the key of the young Giorgi Tskhovrebadze. “They arrive with a mission like we all have within the club which is to perform individually and collectively for the club. This is what has been brought up to date, ”points out the president of the MHB.

First objectives

As for the objectives, Julien Deljarry is waiting for the end of the preparation and will announce them in September. However, while waiting for the NHL calendar which will fall on Friday, Patrice Canayer is already setting some: “The team must be ready to start early september by being on the floor to be able to make a success of this start to the championship, that is to say by having a conquering team on the ground with results. I don’t give a place, but to be very well placed at the top of the championship and to qualify for the second phase of the European League. We will see at the international break in October what type of season we will have to play.

Julien Deljarry specifies: “The objectives will be based essentially on the championship and on an image and the performances that we give beyond the victories. To be the best ranked in this championship”. The president adds: “It will not be a goal as we have not been able to have in previous years by aiming for a first or second place, a title, the Champions League… We will try in view of last season, to go a little further. Against certain teams, I want a higher concentration and the objective will be not to lose against them”. And to be more explicit about the preliminary round of the European League: “You have to show humility and respect all the opponents but the objective is clear, it is to qualify”.

Start of preparation

Players and staff start seven weeks of preparation with until August 15 “get the bodies and heads back in shape”. From August 25, a week of training at the Les Carroz station, partner of the MHB, then return for two weeks to Montpellier. “We tried to reduce a lot of travel to have more time and less fatigue,” explains Patrice Canayer.

The preparation matches will start from the third week with meetings scheduled against Istres, Nîmes and Neka (Hungarian club which finished 12th out of 14 last season and which will be in preparation for a week in Montpellier). Matches played in Agde, Lodève and Lunel to “promote handball in our region”.

After a break of a few days around August 15, two tournaments will follow in the Hauts de France bringing together Lisbon, Dunkirk and Aix) and in Saint-Affrique (bringing together Tremblay, Saint-Raphaël and Aix). Conclusion of this preparation with a meeting at the FDI Stadium, as a “dress rehearsal” before the resumption of the championship on September 8 and the second preliminary round of the European League at the end of September (draw on September 6).

As for the expectations of this preparation, Patrice Canayer intends to take advantage of having his entire workforce available this year. “I’m going to be extremely attentive and work a lot on the cohesion of the group to create a team that lives well together but above all that lives well together to perform together”, he explains, warning however for those who have any doubts: “The goal is not to form a group of friends to go on vacation together. We must be attentive to this today more than yesterday”.

> To be continued: presentation of the new players.

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