Ligue 1: in Saint-Etienne, the "savior" Pascal Dupraz plays his reputation

Ligue 1: in Saint-Etienne, the “savior” Pascal Dupraz plays his reputation

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Saint-Etienne's coach Pascal Dupraz during the French Ligue 1 championship match in Nice on May 11, 2022.

Pascal Dupraz is a Ligue 1 character. Almost an archetype. That of the firefighter on duty, that coach who defies fire to save a club threatened by the flames of relegation thanks to a certain charisma and titanium optimism. This Saturday, May 21, the Saint-Etienne Sports Association hopes to secure a place in the play-offs, during this 38Y and last day.

That’s fine, his coach is the man of the last day, the one to whom he partly owes his reputation. In 2014, Pascal Dupraz saved Evian-Thonon-Gaillard during a maintenance “final” against Sochaux (3-0). Two years later, he produced his masterpiece with the maintenance of Toulouse. The victory at Angers (3-2) punctuates an unlikely rescue mission that he is the only one to believe in as he arrives in Haute-Garonne ten points behind the first player not relegated.

Today, the dynamic is very different before the trip to Nantes (9pm). Staying almost in the pocket four days earlier, the Greens find themselves on resignations. The Stephanois are 19are and count on a Paris-Saint-Germain not too demobilized to do the job against Metz, 18Y and current play-off (thanks to better goal difference).

Last Saturday, firefighter Dupraz received a blow to the helmet after the defeat at home against Reims (1-2), the fourth in a row. “It is dismay that prevails. By dint of not scoring points, while they approach us…” The sentence is not finished, but it says a lot about your concern.

In this press conference, he opens the umbrella to “apologies”, evokes “puzzling athletic deficiencies” of his players and aims at an indefensible defense. “I have been messing around since December and, before me, a much more prestigious coach [Claude Puel] also toyed. »

“Recipes for the team to improve”

The tone contrasts with his December 15 presentation. I have the weakness of thinking that I have recipes for the team to improve”, he assumes As usual, the technician pulls all the sensitive strings. He evokes the glorious history of the Greens, the memory of his father in the Geoffroy-Guichard stages. At an accounting level, Saint-Etienne never points more than three points behind the barrage, Metz already, and his squad gives him certain certainties against his rivals in the race to stay.

From the first training session, the former striker assumes his own caricature, that of the leader of angry men with overly sophisticated concepts. To his players during a first filmed session, he launches: ” It doesn’t matter if the opposing team exchanges passes 60-70 meters from our goal. Oh ! In which book is it marked that it is necessary to immediately go and take the ball from them? We are in your place. »

In fact, their teams know how to do more than just concreting. In World in 2017, he says he suffers from being reduced to a loudmouth. ” On the pretext that you are a good speaker and use levers of motivation, that would mean that you are not a good technician. It is unbearable. »

read also Ligue 1: Pascal Dupraz, “loser” with a thirst for victory

But it is stronger than him. Dupraz likes to play this down-to-earth coaching role. He proved it again this season. “It is good to have beaten the pawn against this Clermont team that vindicates the principles of Pep Guardiola. I am happy to have shown Pascal Gastien [l’entraîneur clermontois] that a mountaineer could make his team play”, he said, for example, after a victory against the promoted team in February.

Dupraz did Dupraz. He tickled, provoked, and received a nasty backlash. Pascal Gatien thus dedicated the maintenance of his equipment at the end of 1937Y day time ” We want to lay the groundwork for a certain philosophy of play Ah, but I have to be careful what I say and put “philosophy” in quotes because otherwise Pascal Dupraz might contradict me. »

The memory of the Angers speech

With Pascal Dupraz, character and coach come together. They need to fight an enemy, real or unseen, to better unite their group. In 2014, the Evian coach had his counterpart, Hervé Renard, in the white jersey. However, a Savoyard. But Dupraz is from Haute-Savoie. Everything except one detail, for him. And to hear him, all of France wants Sochaliens keeping back from the dead, thanks to Renard. “We must not decide the fate of the matches before they are played”, announces. Victory will validate this aggressive communication.

By nature, Pascal Dupraz carries the light but also the pressure on him. The cameras too. In Toulouse, his talk in the basement of an Angevin hotel went viral after the broadcast of a report on the “J + 1” program on Canal + Sport. Dupraz speaks of pride and love (“I, you understand, I love you”), pushes very far in the feelings, spreads messages of support from the close ones of the players, some even squelch a small tear. “It was a double-edged sword. We laughed out loud, we cried, there was too much emotion. In Angers, we have our worst game with him.” admitted midfielder Etienne Didot to The team.

In January, the newspaper also revealed that Stéphane’s new coach had authorized the filming of an immersive documentary in his dressing room. The project has since been abandoned. At that moment, he imagines nothing but a happy ending. The first few weeks prove him right. In March he already sees himself attending “to a match in the kops”guaranteed maintenance. “Besides, I love to sing”he adds.

Since then, he has been especially disillusioned. Despite a crisis meeting with his players after the early April shipwreck in Lorient (6-2), the leader of the men seems to have lost touch. With an average of 1.14 match points, he sails at the same low tide as Claude Puel (1.15). His speech is no longer having an effect and his choices raise questions such as having kept his confidence in defense Timothée Kolodziejczak or even former international Eliaquim Mangala, “unfairly criticized” according to Dupraz.

Hold or not at the end of a possible prey against Auxerre On May 29, the Saint-Etienne leaders would already be preparing for the post-Dupraz period, at the end of the contract. Laurent Battles (free) and Michel Der Zakarian (Brest) are the proposed names. Firefighter Pascal Dupraz may have to find a new headquarters. But, after all, every season there is a club or two to save during the exercise.

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