William Saliba has returned to the Saint Etienne first-team squad ahead of their game this weekend but, following it, he is likely to have a new manager.
Not knowing the intricacies of Ligue 1 football, I contacted Chloe Gallot of Ultimo Die, who has been keeping us updated on his loan spell, to get a bit of background and explain what’s happening around Saliba in France.
This is what she had to say about what’s happening at Saint Etienne, why a new manager is coming in and what that means for Saliba;
In May, Jean-Louis Gasset announced his departure from the club claiming he needed to rest. As a result, his assistant, Ghislain Printant was appointed manager after several key elements of both the dressing room and the starting eleven claimed in the press that it was the best solution.
Yann M’Vila even claimed that it was an obligation, otherwise he would not stay.
On paper, it seemed like a good idea as Printant already knew the squad, the club, and how to work with ASSE’s two presidents.
Things quickly deteriorated though.
Printant is not good enough for the job, training sessions are poor (tennis football is not very good when it comes to tactical work). Players are in their comfort zone.
Saint-Etienne pre-season was not very good. The team never really showed anything and was a shadow of itself: a weak defence (the injury of Saliba did not help as Perrin is just getting too old and too slow), our attack was clueless and never really showed anything, same goes for the midfield.
The team went on a tour of the US which was really exhausting. The last friendlies were against Newcastle and Middlesborough and they were horrific. It was difficult to be confident for the season ahead, especially with the Europa League.
The team won the first game of the season against a very poor Dijon side which still managed to make us shaky. We’ve not had a single victory since then, with poor performances, showing signs of revolt from the players who never showed anything, mentally speaking.
The last few games (Toulouse, Angers, Gent and Metz) confirmed that the season would not go well at all if a new manager was not brought in as soon as possible. The loss against Metz on Wednesday was the final straw as it was the first time in 24 years that they won at Geoffroy-Guichard.
That new defeat, and the fact that Saint-Etienne is in 19th position, forced the two presidents to look for a new manager.
Jean-Louis Gasset was contacted and gave several ultimatums, including not having to work with one of the two presidents as they hate each other.
The other manager contacted was Claude Puel, when his assistant was at the Metz game. According to several safe reports, he is the one who will take over at Saint-Etienne.
He will likely sign at the start of next week, after the Nimes game this weekend, and ahead of one of the biggest games of the season: the Derby against Olympique Lyonnais, at home.
That change would be a good one. Puel did a good job in Ligue 1, especially with Nice. And it is obvious that he would be ten times better than Printant who is not capable of dealing with the pressure nor anything else. He is simply not good enough, in spite of his true love for Saint-Etienne.
The managerial change will also be good for Saliba as he will play, it is a certitude. Not only because he is good, but also because Puel trusts young players.
Saliba will, for sure, strengthen the defence even as he continues to gain experience.