the president of Stade de Reims Jean-Pierre Caillot takes stock of this Ligue 1 season

the president of Stade de Reims Jean-Pierre Caillot takes stock of this Ligue 1 season
the president of Stade de Reims Jean-Pierre Caillot takes stock of this Ligue 1 season

We must stop trivializing a 9e place in Ligue 1. There are many clubs who envy us to finish in this rank for our sixth consecutive year at this level. We have achieved the objective we set for ourselves. It’s true that during this season, we were able, at one point, to imagine that we were going to do better, aim for 7e place for example. Analysis of our season shows that we have taken yet another step in our evolution. But when we see that we lost six points against two relegated teams, while we miss Europe by four points, it still leaves a little bitter feeling. I would also like to congratulate our Pro 2, 2 teame of its National 3 group, our young people who reached the semi-finals of the Gambardella Cup, and our women who finished in the top 4 of D1.

After a good first leg, there was a slowdown in January 2024. How do you explain it?

Even if after a refocusing, we started again in the right direction, things happened, which caused the squad to slip to arrive at this series where we expected to get plenty of points, but which gave us seen conceding three consecutive defeats.

What exactly happened?

Even the European press mentioned it: we noticed that our coach was going a bit in all directions and his statements weakened the balance in the locker room. Some admitted to me that they felt like they had been abandoned.

Did the problem come from Will Still’s communication?

Will Still, it was a very beautiful meeting, a very beautiful story. He matched the profile we wanted. But when you bet on young people, you have to accept the fact that they sometimes make mistakes. The Will Still effect meant that at one point, there was a lot of communication, of requests from him. He got a little lost and it showed in his management of the team.

Why did you fire him?

For six months, we could see that he was no longer the coach we had chosen. Things had changed and it was difficult to imagine how our story would continue. I am not at the origin of his departure, rather at the conclusion. After the Clermont match (4-1), he said to me: “ I have no more words, I don’t know what to do anymore, I can’t cope anymore “. He asked for an interview with his agent and his dad. Following this interview, we came to the conclusion that we needed to know how to end our story. He showed fair play: we abandoned the transfer fee clause in his contract and him in the last year of his contract. Which, economically, became a white operation. We left as good friends and I think he will be able to bounce back on another project.

Why didn’t he want to finish the season?

As a responsible person, he considered that in order to cause an electroshock, it was best for him to stop immediately. I wasn’t disappointed because I was the one who gave him that opportunity.

Why, in your opinion, the transfer of Azor Matusiwa to Rennes had become inevitable?

Azor had to leave us last summer. We agreed that there would be one more season. During the winter transfer window, we had an offer for him, which we couldn’t refuse. It suited him – he valued his salary – and so did we. Also knowing that we had two players (Valentin Atangana and Amadou Koné) to replace him. The first was unfortunately injured, which forced us to recruit an external element (Benjamin Stambouli). Keeping Azor would have been, economically, a very bad idea.

Was it not a mistake to announce so early the non-renewal of Yunis Abdelhamid’s contract?

No. I could have waited, as happens in certain clubs, on the last day, to make people believe that… It’s normal that in a family, we speak frankly to each other. It was a humanly difficult decision to make, as for Kossi Agassa, Diego Rigonato or Cédric Fauré. I wanted to announce it to him very early so that he could organize the rest of his career. My decisions have always been made for the good of the institution. This one, like all the others, I fully accept. Yunis stops at the height of his glory at the Stade de Reims, we couldn’t imagine a better exit.

Were you afraid of your next visit to the DNCG?

For the fifteenth consecutive year, Stade de Reims has positive accounts. In eight days I will go to the DNCG (National Directorate of Management Control) feeling completely calm about the exercise we are completing, and the one we are going to present. A clarification: Azor Matusiwa was sold in January at zero, with a registration clause in the ambitious budget that we will present to the commission, in which two-thirds of the planned sales have already been recorded.

What about the budget for next season?

Its amount will be approximately the same as that of the season which is ending, and relatively important to achieve our objectives.

What will be the profile of the next coach?

For several seasons, we have been moving towards a young coach, with a little experience, who speaks several languages. In Europe, there are coaches who deserve our full attention.

Have you awarded exit vouchers to players for this summer?

During the last summer transfer window, there were 47 movements, because it was absolutely necessary to relaunch a new sporting cycle. The foundations of the team are there regarding the major players. Obviously, we will listen to the market and if there is an opportunity, there will be a replacement. As for Junya Ito, maybe he will be asked, but on our part there is no possibility that he will leave. This is especially true since we are going to tour Japan this summer, where he is a real star.

What are the areas of play to strengthen?

We are working on the basics of the team. The right-back position for example. The backbone of the team is solid and we also have promising young people, on whom we rely a lot. Our future will be written with these young talents that we are recruiting all over the world.

Is Thomas Foket on the move?

He is under contract. But Thomas must have realized that it became a little complicated for him. We will have to find a solution with him, as we did with others.

Who will replace Yunis Abdelhamid?

We work on files, knowing that the little (Cheick) Keita will return from his loan. We will see during preparation which of the seven development loans we will integrate into the squad. The objective being to count on 20, 21 players from group 1, which we will strengthen with the young people from the Pro 2 group.

Will next season’s goal be the same as this year’s?

Already, it is a question of perpetuating the club in Ligue 1, of continuing to develop and obviously of qualifying, why not, for a European Cup.

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