#Bordeaux #story #chaotic #season
It’s official, Girondins de Bordeaux will play in Ligue 2 next season. The club that has played the second most seasons in Ligue 1 in the history of French football will therefore play in the second division. A drama for Girondin fans who experienced a nightmarish, even chaotic, exercise in which the outcome seemed inevitable. If for Bordeaux everything really changed after the takeover bid by US investment funds GACP and King Street in 2018, the club has never looked as low as it has this season despite last July’s takeover bid by former LOSC owner Gerard Lopez. Because in this 2021-2022 financial year, nothing has ever gone as planned for the club with 6 French Champion titles.
After a disappointing end to the 2020/2021 season with maintenance started in extremis on the last day, the scapular club finally hoped to start again on good foundations with a new investor and thus move on from King Street and Frédéric Longuépée, who had created many concerns within the club. After a summer in total limbo waiting for a happy ending at the head of the DNCG and a preparation spoiled by the uncertainty of maintenance or the name of Jean-Louis Gasset as coach, Bordeaux was finally officially bought by Gérard Lopez on July 23. 2021, a few days before the start of the Championship.
Early launch errors
The former president of Lille arrived with in his bags, Admar Lopes, a scout for Luis Campos for several years and who discovered the role of sports director for the first time. Not an easy role because with a squad that was already very weak at the end of last season, the 38-year-old wanted to completely renew the group, distance himself from the undesirables and strengthen the group, to try to start a new cycle and all that in less of one month. With his president, the first strong choice was that of the coach. And the lucky winner was Vladimir Petkovic. The former Switzerland coach, executioner of the Blues in the European Championship a few weeks earlier, landed in Gironde to treat a sick squad. Described as a pragmatic coach, but with gifts in the field of mental preparation, the Bosnian coach quickly understood that the task was not going to be easy.
A few days after his arrival on the Bordeaux bench, Petkovic and Bordeaux lost to the promoted Clermont (2-0) on the first day of Ligue 1. An almost logical result since the former Lazio coach had counted on the same team and the same players who had had disappointing performances last year. “I didn’t imagine that we were so mentally fragile, two or three errors took us out of the game. You have to work on it, be positive even after a mistake, know how to recover. There is too much fear of making mistakes. Clermont was strong using his speed and our ingenuity, but I don’t think they were the ones who dominated. We have suffered our own mistakes. I don’t know if reinforcements are needed, but I know that the entire squad must do more to honor the shirt.” Petkovic explained after the meeting. Reinforcements, precisely, Admar Lopes was going to try to offer some to his coach…
a fractured group
After Gérard López took over the club, the sporting policy was clear: bet on young players with high potential and then obtain a capital gain on resale. So the club, which also did not have much room for maneuver financially and had agreed with the DNCG to sell first before buying, therefore made the commitment to bet on the loan of young players. Ricardo Mangas (23 years old), Gideon Mensah (23 years old), Timothée Pembélé (18 years old), Javairo Dilrosun (22 years old) and Jean Onana (21 years old) landed in Gironde in particular, but almost all of them at the end of the window of transfer. Forward Alberth Elis, midfielder Fransergio and defender Gregersen completed the rookie list. But as a token, with a woeful lack of experience for the first cities, and knowledge of the French Championship and these requirements for the others, the recruits were not entirely satisfactory, and Bordeaux still experienced disappointments on the ground. The debutantes were very far from the expected level and in particular Fransergio, ghostly with each appearance.
After several weeks of acclimatization of the technician and the recruits, the level shown by the Girondin did not bode well. Result, still disappointing performances and only a small miraculous victory against Saint-Etienne in 11 days of Ligue 1. But not enough to worry the board that comforted a Vladimir Petkovic, passive on his bench, and who seemed more defenseless than at a press conference where he continued to see progress on his team. On the field, Petkovic’s options were also questioned, as he had yet to create a backbone and defensive solidity. Recruits in this sector were not entirely satisfactory. The repeated injuries of Laurent Koscielny, the disappointing performances of a Benoît Costil, impeccable until his call for the quarterfinals of the League of Nations with France and a little worried Otavio, did not help and the first tensions were born, even internal and in the inside. costumes
The chaos of January and the loss to OM
On the pitch, hope is reborn for a moment after a late comeback against Reims. Led 2-0, Bordeaux equalized and then won three precious points late in the game. And if the leaders, the players, the fans and the coach expected this scenario to be a click for the rest of the season, it was not. A few days later, Girondins fell to PSG again and was also hit hard by Covid. More than twenty cases in the squad, injuries and a 3-3 draw against FC Metz after leading 2-0 in numerical superiority ended up sinking the club into a deep crisis.
At this moment, in the locker room, Vladimir Petkovic seems to lose his group almost completely and has no frame to deliver his speech. On the field, nothing reassures and the defeats are linked to increasing scores and the slap received against Strasbourg (5-2) is the first of a long series. Because in the winter break, despite the catastrophic results in the Championship, the president Gérard López reiterates his intention to aspire to the top 10 at the end of the season and maintains his confidence in Vladimir Petkovic while the fans begin to demand his departure . And the month of January seems to be the sports turning point of the Bordeaux season. Still weighed down by covid, Bordeaux begins its second half of the Championship unprepared and hosts OM in a special match. Unbeaten for 44 years at home to Marseille, Girondins are under pressure for results, while OM know the chance to finally break this series has never been better. Especially since the game is played behind closed doors. Due to Covid, a limit of 8,000 fans was set for this match, but in protest at this measure, the club’s ultras had decided not to go to the stadium. And what should have happened. After a sad game, Bordeaux fell to OM (0-1). A historic defeat. And the descent into hell will continue.
Costil and the accusations of racism
This defeat will do a lot of damage to the club as in the process, Bordeaux literally collapsed against Rennes (6-0). A correction in a collectively cataclysmic match that should logically mark the end of Vladimir Petkovic’s adventure. But it’s nothing. The Bordeaux board continues to support the coach and gives him one last chance. The following match, Girondins miraculously beat Strasbourg (4-3) but were not far from disappointment despite winning 3-0 in this match. One more proof that, despite the three points, the team is still too fragile and the following game was the perfect example. Without Koscielny dismissed from the group by Gerard López for not fulfilling his role as coach, the Girondin travels to Reims with signings claimed by Petkovic. Former OL Marcelo arrives just like Josuha Guilavogui or the great hope of Bosnian football Anel Ahmedhodžić. But that will not change anything and Bordeaux corrects itself again (0-5).
The slap is too much for Gérard Lopez and Admar Lopes who decide to fire Vladimir Petkovic, who will be replaced by David Guion a few weeks later, while Jaroslav Plasil will take over the interim. Problem, the former Reims coach arrives alone, without an assistant and has the same squad as in recent seasons. It is not ideal therefore to oxygenate his group and have this puncture for the future. For the first time on the bench, Guion achieved a draw against Monaco that is not encouraging. In numerical and head superiority to the scoreboard, the Girondins walk at home and concede the tie with great logic. A sign that shows that the season is going to be very long for the fans. Because even against Troyes, relegated at the time, Bordeaux was defeated at home, helpless. A defeat that hurts and that little by little buries the hopes of maintenance. At the same time, a conflict broke out between the fans and Benoit Costil, just after his return from injury. The latter is accused of racism by the Ultramarines group. After an internal investigation, no evidence is found and the French goalkeeper even receives the support of his teammates. The fracture with the public is deep and David Guion decides to leave his goalkeeper on the bench to trust the young Gaetan Poussin, inexperienced.
Gaëtan Poussin’s Nightmare
Girondins’ number one goalkeeper thus becomes the starter by default, although his coach continues to explain that his mandate is a purely sporting choice and has nothing to do with the conflict between Costil and the ultras. But problem, the young 23-year-old goalkeeper does not seem at all prepared for Ligue 1 and it must be said that his defenders do not help either. Although he gets the first clean sheet of the season in a miraculous game against Lille (0-0), his nervousness and lack of composure will play tricks on his team. After his gag goal from a penalty against Troyes, he is the author of a chaotic performance against OL (1-6). Girondins bowed hard in a match in which the Bordeaux goalkeeper was guilty of 4 goals, including a huge ball after completely failing to recover it.
After the game, although he explains that he wants to pass quickly, Gaëtan Poussin is marked by his performance and incidentally against Saint-Etienne he is once again guilty of the equalizing goal (2-2) while his team led on the scoreboard against a competitor directly for maintenance. In this match, the club-trained goalkeeper doesn’t make saves and that’s why he concedes two goals in… two strikes. A new disappointing performance that will force David Guion to send him to the bench and therefore turn to Benoit Costil for the remainder of the season.
an unavoidable end
Against Nantes (3-5) on matchday 35, the Girondins once again showed their mental and defensive weaknesses. While leading 2-0, they once again fell apart. The game against Angers (4-1) did not help at all and therefore it is logical that Bordeaux is officially relegated to Ligue 2 after this 38th matchday. It might have been the case much earlier this season, but the results from the competitors still held out some hope.
This 2021/2022 season is definitely one to forget about this monument of French football which, as a symbol, with one of the squads with the highest payroll in Ligue 1, finished the season in last place in the Championship. It will be necessary to rebuild an entire club both in sports and administration to be successful in Ligue 2 from next season because the club’s economic survival depends on it. Currently the fourth most indebted club in France (-67 million), Bordeaux would hardly survive if they remained in the second division for more than a year… Bad news, especially since this relegation comes just before the move to 18 Ligue 1 clubs where only 2 clubs will go up at the end of the season…