Roazhon Park awaits the return of Julien Stéphan, its favorite trainer


Now on the Strasbourg bench, Julien Stéphan is preparing to return to Stade Rennais this Sunday with some emotion.

« Strasbourg is coming to Rennes, and nothing else», Assures Julien Stéphan. However, Roazhon Park is almost sold out for its reunion on Sunday (3:00 p.m.) with its favorite trainer, who was eclipsed to everyone’s surprise in March. He is the child of the country, born in Rennes and returned to train young people for six years, before being propelled in December 2018 at the head of the professional team, at just 38 years old. With Stéphan, Rennes climbed to the knockout stages of the Europa League, won a Coupe de France – his first trophy in 48 years -, and discovered the Champions League. Swearing only by the clever mix of humility and ambition that he distilled, the Pinault family had rebuilt the organization chart of the club around him.

Too much pressure on the end in Rennes

But the 2020-21 season was tough: a failed discovery of the C1, a series of empty passes in the league and a health camera that cut Stéphan off supporters, invaluable support in previous seasons. At the beginning of March, thunderclap, he threw in the towel. Too much pressure for this perfectionist, who took several months, punctuated by very long bike rides and intensive viewing of matches, to put his head to the place and accept the Alsatian challenge. In Strasbourg, after months of instability last season and a complicated end of the cycle under Thierry Laurey, Stéphan has brought calm and serenity into a breathless locker room. Match after match, his method settled with a small group of 17 experienced players, completed as in Rennes by young hopefuls.

With what I lived in Rennes, with the career I had and the wonderful experience I had there, Sunday or another time, it will always be special to come back to Rennes.

Julien Stephan

Sunday against Saint-Etienne (5-1), he launched into the deep end striker Nordine Kandil (19), author of an assist, and attacking midfielder Habib Diarra (17). But if he says to himself « delighted”Of his adventure in the land of tarte flambée, finding the smells of sausage pancakes will not be trivial for him or for the assistants who have followed him, or even for the defenders Gerzino Nyamsi and Maxime Le Marchand, trained in Rennes. « With what I lived in Rennes, with the career I had and the wonderful experience I had there, Sunday or another time, it will always be special to come back to Rennes. But that’s not the most important», Assured Stéphan Friday to the press. Before coming back to his current team: “We have 14 points after 10 days, that’s what we must maintain and develop», He insisted.

Especially since Rennes has changed. Many of Stéphan’s executives have left, starting with his colt Eduardo Camavinga, who flew to Real Madrid. Others have arrived, such as Gaëtan Laborde or Kamaldeen Sulemana, whose grinta and flashes bring to the attack the edge that has often lacked. Even if the Rennais kept this feverishness in defense which despaired him, Rennes has today « clearly the potential for the podium», Assures Stéphan. In March, he called Bruno Genesio to discuss the Rennes group at length with him. By its history and its track record, « it’s someone who is from the club», Estimated the current Rennes coach, who will for his part be back in two weeks with OL, his club for ten years.

For him too, things are clear: “It’s not Julien Stéphan against Stade Rennais or Julien Stéphan against Bruno Genesio on Sunday. It’s Strasbourg against Rennes.« In the stands, it may be otherwise, even if the Ultras of Roazhon Celtic Kop, who had lined the city with banners »Thanks JulienThe day after his resignation, have put their activities on hold since an assault at the end of September. Stéphan has no doubts: « There will still be noise at the stadium« .

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