West Ham-linked manager leaves ‘unique’ club as Sunderland links intensify

Jason Soutar
West Ham and Sunderland-linked manager Will Still during a match
Will Still during a match

Will Still has left Stade Reims amidst links to Championship side Sunderland and Premier League club West Ham, the French club has confirmed.

The 31-year-old manager has done an outstanding job in France, taking on the job in October 2022 – two days before his 30th birthday – after three months as their assistant.

Reims finished 11th in Ligue 1 last season despite only having one win in 10 matches before Still took charge.

With five games remaining in 2023/24, Reims are 11th with 40 points and instead of waiting until the end of the campaign, Still has left the club by mutual consent.

A Reims statement read: “Following a meeting held this morning between President Jean-Pierre Caillot, General Manager Mathieu Lacour and Head Coach Will Still, it was mutually agreed that the two parties would not continue the sporting adventure together next season.

“In view of this decision and in order to allow Stade de Reims to look forward to the next financial year with serenity, it has also been decided that Will Still and his assistant Nicolas Still will step down from their respective duties as of today.”

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Reims president Jean-Pierre Caillot said: “Stade de Reims would like to thank Will and Nicolas Still for their investment and all the beautiful emotions they experienced together.

“At the heart of a unique Club project, known and recognized for its ability to reveal all talents, we are proud to have been able to contribute to the emergence of a coach who has been able to impose his convictions and his playing identity.

“Will was one of the players in the new cycle initiated in 2018, and has undeniably allowed SDR to take another step, especially in the context of the internationalization of the dressing room.

“Will, Nico, the Red and White family thanks you and wishes you all the best for the rest of your careers.”

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Still added in Thursday’s statement: “I would like to thank Stade de Reims, President Caillot and Mathieu Lacour for giving me this unique opportunity and for supporting me throughout my journey here.

“I will be eternally grateful to Stade de Reims and all the people involved in one way or another with the club. In particular, I would like to thank all the players I have been able to work with, all the technical, performance, analytical and medical staff as well as the managers, but also and above all the supporters of this great club.

“Our 19-game unbeaten run last season as well as the spectacular games at Delaune will remain unique moments for me. Delaune and Champagne will always have a special place in my life and I will remain the first supporter of the Red and Whites.”

Still’s next step in management is unclear, although he has been strongly linked with Sunderland in recent months and has reportedly been of interest to West Ham, whom he supports.

The 31-year-old did not take kindly to rumours linking him to the Sunderland job last November, telling Gazete van Antwerpen: “I don’t know which French-language newspaper made up that story, but it certainly tarnished my image.

“Now I know journalists can make or break you. The article was also quickly adopted in England. Suddenly I was in all the tabloids. Everyone thought I had offered myself to Sunderland. [That] I wasn’t being honest, so to speak. And not to be trusted. But I would never offer myself to another club.

“I’m not wired like that. I have too much respect for the people I work with for that. It’s a shame the story was blown up so much.”

He has, however, previously admitted that he would be open to managing West Ham at some point, telling talkSPORT in February 2023: “If I say it, I’m scared other teams aren’t going to ring me up. West Ham, I’ve always been a big West Ham fan.”

While we are on the subject, rumour has it that Will Still has led Reims to an 18-game unbeaten run in all competitions and at 30 years old, he’s the youngest manager in Europe’s top five leagues. Reims do in fact pay a £22,000 fine each time Still manages because he doesn’t have his UEFA Pro licence.

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