To say that the start of the season at FC Nantes was eventful would be a pleonasm. Nine days before the resumption of the French football championship, former coach Vahid Halilhodzic, in conflict with its leaders, preferred to leave his post. Five days later, Christian Gourcuff agreed to leave his retirement to embark on a new adventure to which others, like Gennaro Gatuso, former AC Milan coach, preferred to say no.
With 19 points earned in nine days, the club has made its best start to the season for twenty-five years.
Without a job since June, and his departure from the Qatari club Al-Gharafa, after a Rennes experience that ended badly, the Breton technician, 64 years remembers not hesitating long after the call of the president of Nantes, Waldemar Kita, August 7: "I asked him for 24 hours of reflection, he tells in his office. He told me that there was a match in Lille four days later, and that he would call me back in the afternoon. I went to walk my dogs by the sea, I came back and I said banco. "
Two months later, Nantes is second in Ligue 1. With 19 points acquired in nine days, the club has just made its best start to the season for twenty-five years, before facing Metz on Saturday 19 October.
To embark on this project, Christian Gourcuff had to leave aside some of its principles. He did not have the hands on the recruitment, did not manage the preparation and had to accept the departure of some managerial players at the last moment.
In addition, he who is accustomed to sign up for the long term has initialed a contract for one year only. "I understand the questions, but I think that I do not know and do not know President Kita well"replied the Breton.
19 – Nantes has 19 points after 9 games in Ligue 1 2019/20, its best total at this stage in the elite of … https://t.co/aGFXYB6oly
That Gourcuff finish his coaching career in Nantes seems almost logical. Apostle of the "beautiful game", he was seduced in his youth by the teams of José Arribas and especially Jean-Claude Suaudeau, two of the club's legendary coaches. After two missed appointments in 2009 and 2016, he is finally at the helm of the Canaries.
On the side of the fans we are satisfied with the result. "Having Gourcuff in Nantes is unexpected", launches Florian Le Teuff, president of the association of supporters A la Nantaise. He dreaded the arrival of Raymond Domenech, the former coach of the Blues, become favorite foil football fans in France.
"My image was a bit of nostalgia," recognizes the person concerned. "Nostalgia", the word is well chosen, because the "game to Nantes" has left the banks of the Erdre since the departure of Raynald Denoueix, in 2001.
"I do things according to my sensitivity, my conception of life and the relationships I have with people. It transpires on the ground. »Christian Gourcuff
"It's a game by others and for others", summarizes Eric Carrière, who evolved under the orders of Suaudeau and Denoueix in the late 1990s and early 2000s. "We put the game and the collective in priority for the individualities to express themselves, while many players and clubs put forward individualities to benefit the collective. "
Visibly tired by the methods of Vahid Halilhodzic, the group in Nantes responds positively to those of Breton. "It's not a value judgment, but I think we have an opposite view of lifeexplains the new coach from Nantes. I do things according to my sensitivity, my conception of life and the relationships I have with people. It transpires on the ground. "
"He is a purist, a lover of football, of the game, sometimes to the detriment of the result, abounds the old Lorient, Yann Jouffre. Above all, he wants his team to play well. All the players I talked to said that they have never had as much fun in training weeks as with him. "
👀 The images of the training of the day! 🔜 #FCMFCN 📸 Full album: https://t.co/HijWuke4eg https://t.co/q9yHIErPLV
The Nantes wall
Former teacher of mathematics, Christian Gourcuff bet on the development of his players: "I have regrets about my years of teachinghe recalls. I was a teacher who, like many, passed on knowledge. Football opened my eyes. The first thing is to create motivation. The desire to learn follows. "
"The problem is the shortcut between the score and the content of the matches. The people who criticize us do not look at them. We can not charge ourselves with a minimalist spirit. »Christian Gourcuff
For the moment, everything (or almost) is going well. With only three goals conceded over the last eight games, Nantes is a wall. The attack still has a little trouble following, however. In nine days, Nantes has scored just nine goals and won five times on the score of 1 to 0. The efficiency is extreme.
"Christian Gourcuff optimizes his team, explains Eric Carrière. I do not think it's an offensive team, but he's right. He is very organized and his team is in his image. "The problem is the shortcut between the score (1-0) and the content of our games, defends the technician from Nantes. The people who criticize us do not look at them. We can not charge ourselves with a minimalist spirit. "
A reinforced role
In the stands not yet full stadium of La Beaujoire, fans seem to find a little fun. "After all these years of suffering, we can not afford to demand the moon, but we see play, pleasure, notes Florian Le Teuff. We suffered too much to refrain from taking our foot. "
However, warns Yann Jouffre, the honeymoon might not last. "They will have a good season, whatever happens. But, it will end badly, because he will not accept that Kita come and talk to him about football and make the team in his place. I'm not diviner, but in Lorient and Rennes (clubs he was previously coaching), it ended badly. One day or the other, between the two, it will be bad. "
In the meantime, the club announced on Wednesday (October 16th) that it intends to prolong the contract of its coach and to widen its field of action by making it its "head of the sports sector", in charge of putting back in place "Uniformity of style and play, from pros to kids".