The Nantes patient is in the waiting room. Between Ligue 1 Uber Eats and Ligue 2 BKT, the Canaries hold their breath before playing for survival on May 27 and 30 during the play-offs against Toulouse. Fear matches that will conclude a terrible 2020-21 season for the residents of the Beaujoire. One more for supporters who, despite their good will, are clearly disappointed and disillusioned by the management of the Kita clan and the sporting results. However, as at every start of the season, hope was still present in some. The exercise began with a draw in Bordeaux (0-0) then a success against Nîmes (2-1).
The Domenech casting mistake
Then things started to go wrong for Canaries led at the time by Christian Gourcuff. Indeed, they have chained a series of bad results. And last December 8, Nantes formalized its departure after thirteen days and a terrible record of 3 wins, 4 draws and 6 defeats (14th place in the standings). The last setback against Strasbourg (December 6, 0-4) had been fatal to him. In the process, Patrick Collot had assumed the interim until the truce. There too, the record was not great with two draws and two defeats. Fifteenth in the championship, the French team wanted to get off on the right foot in 2021.
Several coaches were therefore approached to revive the Nantes machine like Laurent Blanc, Patrick Vieira, Sabri Lamouchi and Franck Passi. But Waldemar and Franck Kita opted for a daring and surprising track. Indeed, they decided to bet on Raymond Domenech, who therefore resumed service on December 26, who had not coached since his experience in the France team. A choice that was not at all unanimous with the supporters. Tired or even annoyed, the latter materialized their discontent by disrupting Domenech’s first training at La Jonelière on December 30.
The “Kita Circus” continues
With irony, fans denounced the “Kita Circus” all with circus music. A few weeks later, on January 14, 5,000 posters were put up in and around the city to once again point the finger at the Nantes president. Because on the ground, things weren’t really getting better. After seven matches in all competitions (4 draws and 3 defeats), Domenech was dismissed on February 10, a few hours from a Coupe de France meeting against Lens, lost. A new casting error on the part of Nantes, 17th in L1 at that time and who remained in 16 matches without success.
To give a boost to a workforce at its worst, the Canaries decided to entrust the keys of the truck to Antoine Kombouaré, an experienced coach in L1. From his debut, he did better than Domenech, it was not difficult at the same time, with a 3-1 victory in Angers. Launched in a commando mission, Nantes alternated between the good and the less good, with in particular a series of 3 defeats in a row between the 31st and 33rd day. Hope then returned with a positive series of four wins between the 34th and 37th day.
Two matches to save each other
Despite this, the Canaries were still present at the bottom of the standings, dropping steadily from 19th to 18th place. Eighteenth before the 38th and final day, Nantes could believe it. For that, it was necessary to take the best of Montpellier and to count on a misstep of a direct competitor. Beaten 2 to 1 at home by the Montpellier of Michel Der Zakarian, who had a muscular exchange with Waldemar Kita after the meeting, the Nantes residents finished in 18th position with 40 points, one less than Brest (17th). Barragiste, the French club ended this dramatic season with a new disillusionment.
This Thursday in Toulouse then on May 30 in Nantes, they will therefore play very big, they who have already lived through difficult times. Antoine Kombouaré will have to find the right words to put the players back on their feet and finish the job. On social networks, the Nantes troops did not hide their disappointment but showed themselves to be conquerors before two capital matches. This was the case for Alban Lafont, who had to give up the Euro Espoirs just like Randal Kolo Muani. Now is the time for sacred union. Then, whether the club stays in L1 or goes down to L2, it will be time to take stock and a big cleaning after a hellish year.
Yesterday’s defeat was hard to swallow, but the whole group is already turned towards Thursday’s momentous meeting.
– Alban Lafont (@AlbanLafont) May 24, 2021