Who are the main people responsible for sinking the Greens who moved from the Europa League to Ligue 2 in three years?

The weight of 10 French championships and 18 consecutive Ligue 1 seasons was not enough to save AS Saint-Etienne. After a very strong tense attack against AJ Auxerre (3rd place in Ligue 2), which ended with a defeat by Ryad Boudebouz after a shot on goal (1-1, 4-5 from penalties) and absolute chaos on the lawn of Geoffroy-Guichard in step, the Greens were drowning in Ligue 2. An almost logical result of a nightmare season at all levels, with 20 league defeats. Twenty minutes looks at the responsibility of this XXL fiasco at Sainté and of course it doesn’t come down to a poorly controlled attack against AJA.

A duo of presidents in peril

For sixteen years at the head of AS Saint-Etienne, the couple Roland Romeyer-Bernard Caïazzo often made mistakes in their choices. His timing wowed everyone once again on Sunday evening. Just 15 minutes after the Greens’ disastrous defeat to AJ Auxerre, shareholders released a statement of course prepared, followed by no press release, be it from Roland Romeyer, Pascal Dupraz or the players.

“We have to accept this failure. As major shareholders, we take full responsibility for this. In some time we will announce important information about the future of the club and ours. An important side of our life will be turned over, but most of all we are putting the ASSE institution, which we are convinced will find the way of the elite very quickly ”- clarify the two presidents, indicating almost clearly that they will soon formalize the sale of the club more than a year after the official launch of this process.

Bernard Caïazzo and Roland Romeyer, during their main joy they have shared for 16 years, with the Coupe de la Ligue won in 2013 at the Stade de France. – GUY JEFFROY / SIPA

If indeed the decline and the final show of the power of the Saint-Etienne ultras on the lawn on Sunday do not scare American billionaire David Blitzer or any other merchant, that would be understandable … That sell-off sea serpent that never before managed to crystallize tension between supporters and management . And if Bernard Caïazzo, who has been living in Dubai for two years, is very far removed from the electric context of Saint-Etienne, it weighs heavily on Roland Romeyer (76), increasingly marked by recurring criticism and insults from major groups, supporters such as his house marked after the defeat of Reims (1-2) on May 14.

After he deserved to stabilize the club economically, with the famous salary limit, and succeeded in major human elections on the bench, with Christophe Galtier and Jean-Louis Gasset, Roland Romeyer and Bernard Caïazzo then taking a broad line. Since Ghislain Printant, Gasset’s former deputy, ASSE has struggled systematically to stay in the lead. Julien Sablé’s temporary changes did not work, and neither did the selection of Pascal Dupraz, and especially Claude Puel before him, installed with full sports credentials, in a very rare (and therefore very risky) league 1 leadership position.

A terrible transition by Claude Puel

What better way to understand the terrible gap between Claude Puel’s ambitions and sports reality than in a January 2020 interview, three months after his arrival on the bench? “The goal is the Champions League. Going to fifth place doesn’t interest me. You have to build something to try to climb much higher, ”he announced then in Eurosport. In the end he certainly took the Greens to the Stade de France (0-1 against PSG in the 2020 Coupe de France final) but was saved the same year by Ligue 1 ending prematurely (10 days left) due to Covid-19, finishing 17 . place. 11th in 2021 (6 points for dams), the former Lyon coach was 20th with 12 points in 17 days when he was sacked on December 5th after his memorable defeat to Rennes (0-5).

Claude Puel left ASSE through a very small door last December.
Claude Puel left ASSE through a very small door last December. – VALERY HACHE / AFP

In his defense, he could not rely on any major recruit during his tenure at Saint-Etienne, and the late loss and against his will of Wesley Fofana (sold for 40 million euros in Leicester) weighed part of the 2020-2021 season. But from settling quickly with Stéphane Ruffier to the disastrous management of purported directors such as Wahbi Khazri and Ryad Boudebouz, Claude Puel never seemed to be able to give the club the long-term impetus for a large-scale project that was readable and directed towards young people. Even though he was not at the club for six months, he was instrumental in the fall of ASSE, which in three years moved from Europa League to Ligue 2. As the Magic Banners recall.

Recruitment at the blackboard

Released from the famous 2018 winter transfer window produced in Jean-Louis Gasset, with old veterans who overtook the Greens from the relegation race to Europe in five months (Subotic, M’Vila, Debuchy), Sainté rushes straight into the wall after each of his choices, or almost five years. Overall, large investments made at the level of wages for players in difficulty and with no resale prospects (Boudebouz, Khazri) or even at the end of the race (Cabaye), record transfer compensation for alleged crack which turned out to be a colossal flop (Diony), and even an expensive bet signed by Claude Puel with Adil Aouchiche (ex-PSG). But apotheosis disaster class Saint-Etienne’s recruitment took place this winter under the leadership of Loïc Perrin.

Here, during his rather interesting entry into the game on Sunday against AJ Auxerre, Enzo Crivelli, long injured upon arrival, was unable to revive his attack on Saint-Etienne during Ligue 1's return stage. JEFF PACHOUD
Here, during his rather interesting entry into the game on Sunday against AJ Auxerre, Enzo Crivelli, long injured upon arrival, was unable to revive his attack on Saint-Etienne during his re-entry phase into Ligue 1. JEFF PACHOUD – AFP

In addition to choosing coach Pascal Dupraz, The big three Mangala-Crivelli-Gnagnon (a piece wanted by Puel) joined the group to help keep it. Eliaquim Mangala is light years from her Porto and Manchester City levels. Enzo Crivelli has not scored in an official match since December 2020 and has surprisingly confirmed his absence from Forez, especially after arriving injured. As for Joris Gnagnon, he showed a good fifteen extra pounds on him every photo looped on social networks and saw his contract broken three weeks ago, without the slightest contact with a professional group. With saviors like this, plus the chronic bankruptcy of an alleged director like Timothée Kołodziejczak, the tragic outcome of Sunday’s event is not a real surprise.

Pascal Dupraz, the firefighter has no more flame

There was, of course, the Dupraz effect, with those 4 victories in 6 Ligue 1 games in the heart of winter, very far from the flat encephalogram of the first leg against Claude Puel. Coach Savoyard re-mobilized the group mentally and was able to restore confidence in a player like Denis Bouang. But in just five months with the former savior of ETG (2014) and Toulouse (2016), we already felt the signs of wear and tear in the Saint-Etienne locker room. Returning to 17th place, his side relegated twice to Lorient (5-2) and Nice (4-2) after a systematic two-goal lead.

Pascal Dupraz will not be as successful in his maintenance as he did six years earlier with TFC.  SALOM-GOMIS
Pascal Dupraz will not be as successful in his maintenance as he did six years earlier with TFC. SALOM-GOMIS – AFP

Heavy punches for which chilly Pascal Dupraz has an undeniable part of the responsibility, as well as in managing the last sprint like the hiccup against Reims (1-2) and that last out-of-control match against Auxerre (1-1, 4-5 on penalties), despite favorable outcome in Burgundy (1-1). The adventure with Dupraz is over in Sainté and we have the impression that no one will really regret it, be it from the leaders, players or fans. Although he didn’t show up in the press room on Sunday night, he immediately deleted his Twitter account as if he’d better get off the radar.

Really the twelfth man?

this battle between the groups of fans who have hurt their club, he’s going crazy this season in Ligue 1. But honestly, ASSE ultras should have won the day, so many episodes sealed the Green’s supposed advantage in the evolution of their Cauldron. Two behind closed doors and travel bans followed pyrotechnic demonstrations that both Magic Fans and Green Angels care about, with incidents and sanctions imposed against Angers, Jura Sud and then against Monaco. Keeping the 30th anniversary of the Green Angels, dropping smoke bombs and stopping the match as expected resulted in a total camera on the 37th decisive day against Reims. A defeat (1-2) that night almost cost Stéphanois a play-off spot.

The chaos observed after this match, and even more so after the match against Auxerre, proves once again to what extent the Saint-Etienne ultras do what they like. In a few days we suspect that the Greens will take a new ration behind closed doors. Suffice it to say that the already risky start of the season in Ligue 2 will be burdened with a few home games without support, or even worse. How worse to open a new era in Ligue 2? The last word in this inverted end of the cycle is to Eliaquim Mangala, who assured on his arrival in January: “See you in May for the Coupe de France and maintenance final.” Bergerac and AJ Auxerre were there and beat that drifting ASSE.

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