AS Saint-Étienne 2019/20: Under the Microscope
Season 2019/20 could prove to be a pivotal season in our overall progression as a club. We have so far achieved each of the goals we set out prior to starting our journey.
- Taking back the Rhône Valley from rivals, Lyon.
- UEFA Europa League qualification.
- Silverware. (Coupe de France)
- UEFA Champions League qualification.
- The second place finish in Ligue 1.
The speed at which we’ve secured these goals has taken us all by surprise. In real life, Saint-Étienne are languishing at the foot of the Ligue 1 table and have just signed Yann M’Vila from the Russian wilderness.
The next phase in our progression will be to truly push Paris Saint-Germain all the way in the race for the Ligue 1 crown, whilst fending off a resurgent Monaco side, now managed by Ronald Koeman. The spending power of both clubs simply cannot be underestimated. Clever business in the transfer market aligned with tactical nous will be required if we are to have any chance of reclaiming our throne. After all, we still hold the record for Ligue 1 championships (10).
Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco
I’ll be very honest here, and say that I’m actually delighted with the current squad we have at the club. Remy Cabella is a wonderful footballer, no doubt about it. However, is he fit enough to last an entire season whilst having an influence on the level we all know he’s capable? Looking at his injury record, I sincerely doubt it. Reinforcement would be needed on the left wing. Levi Garcia is developing nicely but, we need other options. Champions League football requires a deep squad of quality players.
The quick two-footed attacker has been in our sights for a couple of transfer windows now, so when the opportunity was presented to us, we simply had to take it. Power, pace, strength and dribbling ability..!! The versatile forward is capable of playing on either flank and is especially effective when playing from the left, which is where we will deploy him.
Richarlison is everything I look for in a winger.
It’s important that we don’t halt Levi Garcia’s development this season. After all, Richarlison remains a Watford City player, despite signing a two year loan deal with our club.
A defender who has been at the top of our list from day one. I’ve always viewed Issa as the eventual successor to club captain Loïc Perrin. At twenty-two years old, he still has his best years ahead of him and is another of Europe’s young up and coming defensive talents. Dutch under-21 centre back, Perr Schuurs (19) has been progressing nicely and the towering defender will hopefully partner Diop throughout the coming years.
Sporting Director – AS Saint-Étienne
We have been working day and night in order to get this one over the line, so we’re understandably thrilled to finally get the deal done, and feel the club are getting a real star in Yerry Mina.
Thou shalt not pass..!!!
The 6”4” Mafia
Yet again we are building nicely and you can see another little team triangle forming. We’ve previously looked at our midfield triumvirate, however, we’re now able to spot additional triads developing between the centre backs and Marcos Llorente (DLP defend) in the defensive midfield slot.
This guy simply gets better and better with each game he plays. Almost single-handedly dismantling teams as he pleases. AC Milan have had scouts watching him for months, with Milan boss, Vincenzo Montella even coming to cast an eye himself. I’m sure he wasn’t disappointed with what was on display.
Aksel’s stellar performances were enough for us to cool all interest in Ajax winger, David Neres. Well, that and the fact he declined contract talks after Ajax had accepted a £25m + offer for the Brazilian.
The scale of our evolution can only fully be measured by results on the field, and nobody can deny we’ve taken gargantuan steps in the last two seasons. Taking the club from mid-table obscurity to second place in Ligue 1. Splitting Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco is all well and good but, we now need to oust the Parisian giants from the summit of Ligue 1 if we are to accomplish the next phase of our development.
Simply put; we need to win our matches against PSG and Monaco. This is, of course, assuming we’re able to take care of the so-called lesser teams. To put it into perspective – we are yet to secure victory over Paris Saint-Germain. A somewhat unwanted record that now spans two seasons.
It’s certainly fair to say, that the early season fixture list has been moderately kinder to us this season. I find the squad integration process is made easier for new recruits if you’re not facing off against the best teams in the opening weeks of the campaign. Competitive match fitness also must be gained when the season’s in its infancy.
The new signings have bedded in well, and are gelling nicely with the rest of the squad. We’ve really shifted a gear it seems. Some of the football has been on another level entirely.
Scintillating form, with only two away draws in the first ten matches.
11) AS Saint-Étienne v Paris Saint-Germain, 26 October 2019
What a performance from my players..!! The first big test of the season, and shows we definitely mean business. Full-backs, Bryan Dabo and new signing, Senna Miangue were instructed to tightly mark Neymar and Angel Di Maria.
Opposition Instructions – Closing Down never
We don’t want to leave gaps that will allow PSG to play in behind. One accurate pass from the opposition defensive half could leave up massively exposed. If we’re too aggressive in the press and mess it up, we could potentially be outnumbered at the back and, with their attacking quality – this would be football suicide.
Full-time: AS Saint–Étienne 5-2 Paris Saint-Germain
13) AS Saint-Étienne v AS Monaco, 9 November 2019
Come on lads, let’s show everyone we’re here to fight for this title..!!!
A show-stopping first-half blitz puts another title rival to the sword. Aksel Aktas is really starting to live up to the Michel Platini comparisons… The right winger chipping in with two assists on this occasion.
Full-time: AS Saint–Étienne 3-1 AS Monaco
Thirteen matches played and two massive scalps have been taken. Sure, there’s a long way to go, and many more points still to play for, but at this moment we are looking very good indeed.
A certain Michel Platini helped inspire the team to the 1980/81 title.
Can Aksel Aktas be the driving force this season, and mirror the success of Platini all those years ago…??
The 2020/21 season will celebrate the 40th anniversary of AS Saint-Étienne winning their tenth and final Ligue 1 title, and to honour such a momentous occasion – the club will be releasing a limited edition anniversary kit. The shirt will be heavily based on that which was worn by the famous title-winning side of 1980/81.
I’m going to leave it there, for now, ladies and gentleman…
I sincerely hope you are all fine and well. Thanks ever so much for continuing to join us on this romantic footballing journey.
Take care, and Allez les Verts !
Kit supplier - Keysi Rensie Sports ltd.