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“We had to renew the workforce”

After the assured maintenance in Ligue 1, Clermont Foot needed to “renew the workforce” and attract “experienced players”, explained its coach Pascal Gastien, before starting a new season in the elite. .

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Clermont Foot begins its season on Saturday August 6 with the reception of PSG. In full preparation, the club’s coach, Pascal Gastien, answered questions from an AFP journalist.

Question: What lessons did you learn from last season?

Pascal Gastien:We have achieved our retention goal. It was no small feat. It was complicated but we still got it quite brilliantly, without having lost our values, our desire to play. I hope that this experience of this first year in Ligue 1 will be useful to us.

Question: What are the challenges of this off-season?

Pascal Gastien:We arrived at the end of the cycle with players who had been at the club for quite some time and who did us more than good service since they contributed to the rise. Some wanted to leave and I wanted some to leave as well. It was necessary to renew the workforce, 50 to 60% changes on the basic team. It’s not nothing. We have a team to rebuild. We won’t have much time, especially since we’re starting against PSG!

Question: It is often said that the second season is more difficult…

Pascal Gastien: “I have often been told that. I don’t know. But so far, before us, only one club (Troyes) had maintained its first season in L1. So the first one is already very difficult Everything is complicated. In the first season, we are on the dynamics of the climb. This is what certainly allowed us to start well last year. There, we gained experience. In any case, it suits us to say before the championship that there is no truth!

Question: There will be four runs this season. What do you think?

Pascal Gastien:It will obviously be difficult. People rightly see us in the bottom four. We will sell our skin dearly and try to maintain ourselves. We have recruited, I think, good players who will bring us their experience and those present last season have a year of experience in Ligue 1. So we must be in a phase of progression this season without changing our philosophy. We have to improve our concentration because we lacked consistency in all matches and it almost cost us dearly.

Question: What were the recruitment priorities?

Pascal Gastien:We wanted to hire experienced players in all lines like Maxime Gonalons or Mehdi Zeffane. Komnen Ambric also who knew the D1 in Croatia and the European Cup. We have just taken a Polish international defender (Mateusz Wieteska) or the full-back Neto Borges who knew the Portuguese elite or our goalkeeper Mory Diaw in Switzerland.

Question: How do you see the evolution of the Clermont club?

Pascal Gastien:We evolve every year. We are building a training center (in progress) which will be right next to the stadium. We’ll have better grounds, too. Maintaining ourselves would allow us to anchor ourselves even more in the city and high-level professional football to climb the steps little by little, without doing anything or going beyond what we are capable of doing. Our working conditions are good but we were below the majority of many professional clubs, even in Ligue 2 in terms of infrastructure.

Question: What is your opinion on your calendar?

Pascal Gastien:Logically, starting against PSG at home, we will not be favorites, that’s for sure. We will go to Reims before receiving Nice, one of the big players in the championship. The calendar is extremely difficult but we have the ambition to get off to a good start and still take points. I’m not sure if it’s good to play the big entry. At PSG, the team has not fundamentally changed. The players know each other and will be motivated with a new coach.

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