Angers, new faces and many questions
The SCO is attacking its eighth season in a row in the top flight, the second under the leadership of Gérald Baticle. After having plummeted during the past season to fear for its maintenance, Angers must deal with a largely remodeled workforce and a sale announced by President Saïd Chabane but which is dragging on. Overview of the Angevin forces, before the first match in Nantes on August 7 at 3 p.m.
The challenge: surviving a large starting wave
Usually stable, the Angevin workforce has been copiously modified. The historic Vincent Manceau, Romain Thomas, Ismaël Traoré and Thomas Mangani, all in Anjou since the ascent, or before, are gone. Add the departures of the wisps Jimmy Cabot (Lens), Mohamed-Ali Cho (Real Sociedad) or Angelo Fulgini (Mainz), a recruitment essentially made up of bets, and you get a group with no real certainty.
Should the SCO fear relegation? It is one of those « soft belly » clubs whose comfort could be disturbed by the four runs this season. Four is also the number of defenders that Gérald Baticle will field each game. Exit a promising 3-5-2 but which quickly ran out of steam last year, and make way for a rearguard full of rookies and unknowns. Two defeats (against Brest 2-0 and Sevilla 6-0) came to sow their share of questions to complete a preparation of five games.
The player to watch: Azzedine Ounahi will have the keys
Angelo Fulgini gone, the SCO must find a new axial playmaker. The promising Himad Abdelli has certainly arrived from Le Havre, but the keys to the offensive animation should be entrusted to Azzedine Ounahi. At 22, the Moroccan made a breathtaking debut last year (scorer in his first match against Lyon), but struggled to confirm.
For his second season in Ligue 1, his role as the high point of the middle three should give him great creative freedom. Arrived from Avranches (National) last summer, he has since acquired international experience – 7 caps – with Morocco and should be at the World Cup.
The transfer window: an equation with multiple unknowns
With ten recruits, the SCO has been active in filling the many departures. Apart from Cédric Hountondji (Clermont) and Adrien Hunou (Minnesota, ex-Rennes), the newcomers will discover Ligue 1. The two ex-Havrais Yahia Fofana (goalkeeper) and Himad Abdelli (attacking midfielder) are promising, but will have to s adapt to the intensity of the elite. The same goes for Ulrick Eneme-Ella and Abdallah Sima, both on loan from Brighton, with very meager references.
The biggest project concerns defence. Miha Blazic arrives from Ferencvaros (Hungary) in the axis, when Halid Sabanovic, defector from Sarajevo, will occupy the right flank. But there again, nothing says that these players, never faced with a championship of the caliber of Ligue 1, will be at the level. The same goes for Ilyes Chetti (Espérance Tunis).
The typical XI: