Football : « La catastrophe au bord de laquelle se trouve Saint-Etienne est une œuvre collective »

Football : « La catastrophe au bord de laquelle se trouve Saint-Etienne est une œuvre collective »

VSIt’s an old-fashioned puddle, spreading out in front of the goal line. On September 18, 2021, a storm hit the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium and, at the very end of the match between AS Saint-Etienne (ASSE) and the Girondins de Bordeaux (already last in Ligue 1), this puddle stops an attempt by Harold Moukoudi, depriving the Greens of the equalizer.

This lost point would have allowed them to keep today the place of play-offs that they seemed to have assured, but that FC Metz has just stolen from them one day before the end of the championship. Here they are 90 minutes from relegation to Ligue 2 – along with the Girondins, another crumbling monument.

The truths of football being retrospective, the temptation is strong to explain the results by such “game facts”, as they are called, or to assign them to the players only, as is customary. But the disaster on the brink of which ASSE finds itself is a collective work, and its collapse in the final sprint like a season upside down.

Institutional and economic fragility

The disaster has multiple causes, some structural. First the institutional fragility of the club, undermined by the dissensions between its co-presidents Roland Romeyer and Bernard Caïazzo, who have been trying in vain to sell it for several years. The appointment at the end of 2021 of a triumvirate made up of Loïc Perrin, Jean-François Soucasse and Samuel Rustem came too late to remedy this erratic governance.

Its economic fragility, then. The wait-and-see attitude of shareholders led to under-investment and sight-seeing, but in any case they did not have the financial base to absorb the Covid crisis and their own mistakes without difficulty.

ASSE, which has nevertheless obtained five European qualifications over the past ten years, has been in danger for two seasons. For the 2021-2022 financial year, the coach has the unspoken objective of ensuring maintenance with a group made up of a large proportion of young people, an additional risk factor.

If Claude Puel and his authoritarian management have responsibilities in an alarming start to the season, his team displays clear principles of play and demonstrates a certain strength of character.

Once the bad luck has passed (illustrated by the 12 amounts touched in 17 matches, a European record recorded at the beginning of December by the statistician Opta), it will inevitably confirm that it has the means to maintain itself…

The victory snatched against Clermont-Ferrand in added time on November 7, 2021 suggests such a turning point, but a new series of setbacks got the better of Claude Puel a month later.

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