AS Saint-Étienne 2020/21 Season Review
We continue the march in defence of the title…
Throughout the series so far, we’ve been positioning ourselves as the go-to destination or, perhaps even port of call for the world’s top young footballers. Losing our best players after moulding them, and maturing them into what you see today, just cannot, and will not become common practice at Saint-Étienne. Not when we’re really looking to build upon what we’ve achieved during this sequence in time.
We’ve already witnessed the reluctant sale of Perr Schuurs, to them from the capital.
– Allez les Verts! acte I
AS Saint-Étienne aspire to be be the standout destination for developing young talents, and one of the continent’s most exciting clubs. Constructing a youthful nucleus that is the envy – and, certainly, the desire – of much of the European elite. It will be a conveyor belt for the first team and it is, most likely, an investment fund that will bankroll ASSE’s future. There will be sales, of course, but they won’t come at a bargain price. Whether it be manufacturing our own stars or polishing up rough diamonds, AS Saint-Étienne’s reputation for excellence will speak for itself. It will be a delicate balance to maintain coherence on the balance sheet and structure on the field. Key to attracting talent to the club will be a clear pathway to the top. Players naturally will move on for bigger and better things after being given the platform to perform at a young age in the first team.
With this model in place, it’s vital that we consistently monitor and survey the player market. We are Ligue 1 champions, and as was previously observed with the successful Monaco side of 2016/17 – a winning squad can quickly be decimated if Europe’s super clubs come calling. You have Bayern Munich and Juventus in their respective nations, and Paris Saint-Germain here, in France. If PSG start sniffing around, it’s almost certain to end one way.
The Case for the Defence
Immense pride is taken in selecting each player to fulfil their particular role in our squad. None more so than in the central defensive area.
OUT — Perr Schuurs (£40m)
Ibrahima Konaté (£8.25m)– IN
The 6”4” Mafia redux
Another of our players hankering after a move to PSG is, Jean-Kévin Augustin. The young Frenchman has been in explosive form since his £10.5m (£12.5m) arrival from RB Leipzig. As little as six months had passed before Paris Saint-Germain were to make their initial advances towards Jean. A £25m offer being rebuffed, much to the horror of self proclaimed PSG supporter and indeed ex-player; Augustin.
He can greet all he wants..!! He’s not going anywhere..!!
Losing key players means we need to recalibrate the side, which in turn, could stunt our development as a club. It’s a vicious cycle, and a condition that many clubs find themselves working in. We’re still a good few places below Monaco in the UEFA coefficient table. PSG are on an entirely superior level altogether, and, the exorbitant amounts of money being spent on players, is just……
The scourge of France..!! Not bad, for £57 million…!!
The resistance continues with Saint-Étienne, Paris Saint-Germain and to a slightly lesser extent, Monaco, leading the charge in Ligue 1. We find ourselves involved in a blow-for-blow – David and Goliath clash with Abu Dhabi (PSG) for the French crown. The title continuously exchanging hands..!! The pressure can feel immense at times, especially when you simply must match their result.
UEFA Champions League
We rejoin our quest for European progression; Could we surpass last season’s First Knockout Round exit at the hands of Chelsea ? It’s almost essential in order to quantify the project we’re currently undertaking here at Saint-Étienne.
First Knockout Round, 1st Leg
Full-time: AS Saint-Étienne 3-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
I instructed our midfielders to repeatedly close down Fred in the heart of Shakhtar’s creative engine room – not giving the Brazilian any time to lift his head – allowing him the space to drive his team forward.
An outstanding performance which fully displayed our attacking superiority in almost every position.
The pendulum swings…
First Knockout Round, 2nd Leg
Full-time: Shakhtar Donetsk 0-0 AS Saint-Étienne
Precisely what I was looking for..!!
We dig in deep to earn a well fought point in Ukraine – inverting the central midfield triumvirate for defensive stability and compactness between lines.
Saint-Étienne now entering unfamiliar territory. Well, since 1976.
20 March 2021
Quarter-Final, 1st Leg
Full-time: AS Saint-Étienne 3-1 FC Barcelona
Ya wee beauty..!!
What initially appeared to be the beginning of a torrid evening against the Catalan giants – quickly turned into arguably the biggest night since I accepted the position here at ASSE. Four shots on target, producing three goals… Our big-hitters providing the lethal touch on the grandest stage of all. This is a true gauge of where we’re currently at in our development as a club and certainly feels like a defining moment in the save.
Let us take a moment……….
Quarter-Final, 2nd Leg
Full-time: FC Barcelona 3-2 AS Saint-Étienne
Trailing by three goals in the Camp Nou, after only thirty-six minutes never genuinely bodes well for any side, but then again we’re not any ordinary team these days. Loïs Diony grabbing a vital away goal on the stroke of half-time, before making way for Brazilian wonderkid, Vinícius Júnior in a tactical shift.
Enter = Vinícius Júnior (72 mins)
I’ve never attempted to hide my desire to sign Vinícius on a permanent deal, and with his current contract at parent club, Real Madrid, coming to an end – we worked endlessly to meet the needs and requirements demanded by both the player and his agent. Negotiations would go on to hit the buffers on almost a dozen occasions, and it would seem that any agreement to bring the young samba star to the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard was some way off.
30 April 2021
Go on the ‘Gers..!! (Angers)..!!
It just had to happen…
A monumental week for myself, the club, and indeed the current campaign. Paris Saint-Germain three times in the space of six short days.
The setup below, or undoubtedly something very similar is what we’ll be deploying in an attempt to put these f*****s to the sword, once and for all..!! (this season). Personnel changes and perhaps the odd role shift being all that’s likely to alter.
Semi-Final, 1st Leg
Full-time: AS Saint-Étienne 2-2 Paris Saint-Germain
A blood, sweat and tears semi-final clash between the good and evil of French football. Jadon Sancho drawing first blood inside the initial minutes of play. Unai Emery’s men commandeering proceedings until towering centre-back, Yerry Mina bullets home a header in the eighty-second minute.
GAME-ON, MUTHA FUCKERS..!!!!
Semi-Final, 2nd Leg
Full-time: Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 AS Saint-Étienne
However, I have nothing but the utmost praise for my players and staff. What a fantastic journey it’s been, and, to exit Europe’s elite competition at the semi-final stage is a massive success. It’s just a shame that the current generation of Les Verts supporters couldn’t witness their heroes in the final.
Sadness quickly turns to joy….
AS Saint-Étienne win Ligue 1
We were to be outdone by Paris Saint-Germain on their home patch, however, Les Verts supporters were already in full party mode – as the Ligue 1 title had already been sewn-up by the time we headed to the French capital. A 1-2 defeat wasn’t enough to hold back the carnival atmosphere in the away end of the Parc des Pinces.
This save gets more engrossing by the day..!!
I’m going to take a few days now, just to savor the moment, and bask in the glory of our magnificent title defence and titanic efforts in UEFA’s Champions League. The close season 2021/22 is shaping up to be an intriguing one – with almost all of our players appearing on summer transfer lists across the continent and beyond.
We’ll be back with a more detailed dissection of the current squad in ‘The Players 9.5’ – looking closely at the players we’ve got lined up to push us on again, to the next phase in our metamorphosis.
(I’ve already started with ‘The Players 9.5’, mainly because I’m so excited about it.)
It’s huge. Mark my words..!!
On that note – I think we’ll leave it there…
Take care, and Allez les Verts!
Greet = Cry