National 2 / Ales. For Midi Libre, Stéphane Saurat explains the reasons for his resignation from the Alesian club.
Much translates into the question. Did you really quit, and if so, why?
Yes, I made this decision alone, just after the elimination in Montauban (R2, three divisions apart with Alès) in the Coupe de France (2-2, 6 shots on goal to 5, October 29). I announced it on the spot to my staff and to Jean-Marie Pasqualetti. They were surprised and asked me to think about it, not to make such a hasty decision. It wasn’t a whim on my part. It wasn’t premeditated either. And it’s not only related to the result, even if I might not have resigned if we had qualified…
What is the cause of this emission, then?
If I stopped, it was because I felt that there was no longer, on the part of part of the locker room, the will to get involved, to assimilate and reproduce my game instructions. To exist in this South-East group, the toughest in N2, I was convinced that our philosophy based on possession in N3 had to be more intense, more aggressive. We had seen it against Agde last season, we had been in difficulty. And this hen is Agde x 10! The match against Auxerre (0-5) also illustrated this need. It was better against Hyères and Grasse. But after Mende (in the Cup), Thonon and Montauban, three more accessible opponents, I had the feeling of not having the total support of the players, without which we weren’t going to get there. And it’s extremely frustrating for a coach to prepare things during the week and only see them partially implemented on Saturday. It is not because we finished champion of N3 with 14 points in advance that we were going to experience the same success in N2. However, possession is the foot that I like, me the lover of Barça… but to have our game project evaluated seems to me essential to maintain us.
Haven’t you tried repeating to that?
Yes, of course. I tried to change things: the players, the system (from 4-2-3-1 to 3-5-2), we multiplied the videos, the individual and collective interviews… If a large part of the locker room joined, I was skeptical about the other. Rightly or wrongly, I don’t know, but that’s what led me to make this decision.
Decision ratified on October 31, after Montauban…
With Jean-Marie Pasqualetti, on an agreement to see each other on Mondays. On Sunday, I isolated myself. We saw each other for two and a half hours with Jean-Marie, Philippe Mallaroni (general director) and Fred Fabre (leader). The club management shared my diagnosis, while considering that my resignation was not the right solution. But I stuck to my position. No one pushed me to leave. There was even talk of another role for me at the club. I’m surprised to hear that the decision was made by mutual agreement. My staff, players and people close to the team were surprised that I stopped.
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Alès: the OAC confirms Hakim Malek as new coach and successor to Stéphane Saurat
The team, promoted, which flirts with the relegation zone, is it not in its place?
I don’t know… I’m convinced she has quality. I was satisfied with the recruitment compared to our budget. I knew the difficulties perfectly, the level of the group, the fact of having to play in Uzès on a different surface, the number of runs (5 or 6 this season), etc. We had a lot of physical glitches at the start of the championship. On a fact a lot of individual errors. That said, when I stopped, we were not relegated. I hope it will be the same at the end of the season (with Malek, Editor’s note). That’s what I want for this club.
During your four and a half seasons, rumors had already suggested a departure…
I never felt that inside the club. I never felt in danger. I think I helped the club to pass stages. I had signed a part-time CDI with the OAC, and the club wanted to give me full-time. It’s the opposite of rumors, isn’t it? I refused to continue my work at the town hall of Saint-Christol-lez-Alès (head of the town planning department).
You leave the OAC with a record of 65 wins, 18 draws and 28 losses, 219 goals for, 122 against. That’s twice as many wins as losses and goals scored as conceded…
There are worse results, right? I am proud of it and these figures are a response to some who have revealed our cautious team… I would like to thank all the players here; my staff; our loyal supporters, who followed us to Uzès and even outside; President Bilange for his confidence and for whom I have great respect. And Jean-Marie Pasqualetti with whom I have always been 300% in tune. A few years ago, he thought about quitting. If he had, I would have left too. I had a lot of fun coaching the OAC. It’s not an ordinary club, it’s a very rich history.
And now ?
You have to digest it all. I quit earlier than I had imagined. I hope to find a challenge, a club, and the field, which is my passion. I was asked a few days ago. I did not respond. I also received more text messages and calls after my resignation than when we went upstairs. Thank you all!