At the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium,
Almost three months after taking office at the head of AS Saint-Etienne, 20th in Ligue 1 (with 2 successes in 18 games), Pascal Dupraz is winning his bet. Thanks to an essential and deserved victory (1-0), this Sunday against FC Metz, the Greens are now in 17th place, with a point ahead of the current barrage Lorient and three on the Metz-Bordeaux tandem.
What to celebrate this unexpected dynamic (4 successes and 1 draw over the last 6 days of Ligue 1) in a Cauldron finding a fervor comparable to the semi-final of the Coupe de France won against Rennes (2-1) on March 5, 2020, just before the coronavirus outbreak.
A record attendance for more than two years
“The atmosphere was exceptional, the supporters were with us from the 1st to the 90th minute and we are very proud of it, confided a moved Lucas Gourna-Douath this Sunday. Around the hour mark, we feel that they are pushing us at a time when the opponent is starting to get tired. They are incredible, I also thank them for this “Shalalala” after the match. »
A tradition of sharing between the players and the two kops of the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium which tended to disappear in view of the constraints linked to Covid-19, but above all because of the disastrous results of the club for almost three years. The euphoria is back in the Forez, so much so that for a hardly brilliant poster between the 19th and the 18th, at an unusual time of 1 p.m., the Cauldron recorded its attendance record (35,607 spectators) for more than two years.
“Direction resignation” chanted by the northern kop despite everything
Like what “the wheel has turned” for this group, as summed up by Mahdi Camara, when the green people had been angry for so long against all strata of the club, starting with his pair Romeyer-Caïazzo, who has no elsewhere not escaped the “Resignation Direction” of the North kop even in this ultra-favorable context. Was the replacement of Claude Puel by Pascal Dupraz the only key to this spectacular trend reversal?
“The coach and the staff give us a lot of confidence in ourselves”, confirms Sada Thioub, striker repositioned in right piston, and very convincing this Sunday. “We are aware of the efforts that have to be made to win a match as tense as today,” said Ryad Boudebouz. The group is very united and the support of the supporters gives us a lot of strength on the pitch. »
“There really is a group that has put its brains back in place”
All discourse converges around the contribution of this 12th man, far too spontaneously for it to be a calculation of communication. “It’s sure that here, it’s pushing hard and that today, it has galvanized the Stéphanois”, estimates the Metz goalkeeper Marc-Aurèle Caillard, who admits having taken “a blow behind the head” after this crucial defeat. in the struggle for survival in the elite. A popular fervor on which the four direct competitors of the Greens, namely Troyes, Lorient, Metz and Bordeaux, will clearly not be able to count.
“There really is a group that has put its brains back in place, appreciates Denis Bouanga, author of the only goal of the half-volley match (1-0, 52nd). We fight for each other and we are no longer in reaction, that is our strength. This dynamic remains fragile, as evidenced by the four big break points missed by the Gabonese (including a post), just before Jérémy Stinat designated the penalty spot in favor of FC Metz (85th).
VAR saved the Greens in the “money-time”
“I won’t hide from you that I was very scared,” smiles Lucas Gourna-Douath. The VAR finally alerted the referee for a foul on Mahdi Camara a few seconds earlier, saving the Cauldron a cruel blow of air conditioning. But this team seems inhabited by a collective strength, which even PSG struggled to extinguish last week (3-1).
So much so that 11 days from the end, Ryad Boudebouz launches a strange hope: “I hope that we will quickly obtain this maintenance to be a little quieter”. The Saint-Etienne supporters would never have imagined such a statement this season, when they celebrated Christmas in the skin of a red lantern with a condemned profile.