Joseph Okumu’s coach explains reasons behind Stade Reims’ brilliant start to Ligue 1 season

Joseph Okumu has been solid as a rock for Stade Reims, which has put the French side in a Ligue 1 title race.

STARS ABROAD Joseph Okumu’s coach explains reasons behind Stade Reims’ brilliant start to Ligue 1 season

Mark Kinyanjui 08:04 - 07.10.2023

Joseph Okumu was one of four signings Stade Reims made this summer, and they have all played a key role in helping Reims start their Ligue 1 season off well under former ‘football manager’ guru Will Still

Stade de Reims head coach Will Still has revealed he is ‘proud’ of his team after enjoying a stellar start to the season which has seen the Ligue 1 outfit soar to third in the league standings after seven games.

At 30, Still is the youngest manager in Europe’s top five leagues. Now joined by assistant - and brother - 26-year-old Nicolas, the Belgian-Englishman is continuing to make his mark in the French top flight. His most recent success – a 2-0 victory over Lyon that sent Reims into third.

"I'm very happy and proud of everyone because I think this is the Stade de Reims that everybody wants to see," Still told the Ligue 1 Show. "We showed great maturity, it's proof that the club is making tracks in the right direction."

There were question marks over what this season would bring for Reims, after winning just two of their final ten outings last term - as well as seeing top scorer Folarin Balogun move on in the summer.

Their recruitment has been impressive though – Teddy Teuma, Keito Nakamura, Mohamed Daramy and Harambee Stars defender Joseph Okumu are all helping silence the doubters.

But it’s not just the new faces who’ve been impressive; the old guard have continued to shine. Marshall Munetsi, for example, who landed the winner against Lyon.

"These are things we work on in training with coach Will," explained Munetsi. "Everybody works for each other. It’s not just about the 11 that start, but the substitutes too. They are capable of changing games for us."

Now with 13 points from their opening seven matches, the Champagne outfit already boast as many points as they had at Round 13 last season. 

Reims are also the division’s third-top scorers, and one of just two sides to have scored in every match.On fire in attack, but solid at the back too.

 Still’s side’s pressing and work rate key to their superb start. This season, Reims sit second in the league in terms of interceptions, ball recoveries, and clearances, with the third-most tackles, and blocks.

The six-time French champions face league leaders Monaco this Saturday, and victory will send them to the summit of Ligue 1 Uber Eats. 

"It doesn't change anything, honestly it's no big deal," he tempered when asked how it feels to be playing for the top spots. 

"We're keeping our heads, staying calm and preparing to have a good game against Monaco. For now, [top spot] doesn't mean much to me."