Saint-Etienne: One of France’s Most Successful Clubs in Danger of Relegation

    01 Feb 2021 | Ligue 1 | Opinion
    Saint-Etienne: One of France’s Most Successful Clubs in Danger of Relegation
    Romain Biard /

    Saint-Etienne are no strangers to a relegation battle, having finished in the bottom five in each of their last two seasons. However, for a third successive season under the guidance of experienced manager Claude Puel, Saint-Etienne will have to fight for their Ligue 1 status.

    Saint-Etienne have remained in the top-fight of French football for the last 17 seasons, ever since they earned promotion from Ligue 2 back in 2004. During this most recent stint in Ligue 1, Saint-Etienne have finished in the top 10 on 11 occasions and even claimed 4th-place finishes in 2013/14 and as recently as 2018/19.

    Jean-Louis Gasset guided the club to a 4th-place finish in the 2018/19 season but left the club before the start of the following campaign. Ghislain Printant was appointed as the new manager but only lasted 6-games before getting sacked with Saint-Etienne sitting in the relegation zone.

    Claude Puel was brought it to retore the club back into the European places, but that didn’t happen. Under Puel, Saint-Etienne have finished 17th and 16th in their last two campaigns and the manager simply isn’t delivering the results that were expected.

    What did Saint-Etienne really expect from a manager that has built an entire career on the back of one Ligue 1 title success in his first season as a head coach with Monaco. Since leaving Monaco in 2001, Puel’s win ratio has always been below 50% and he has never won another trophy, unless you include the Intertoto Cup.

    Whatever reputation Puel had earned during his time in France was completely destroyed during his 3-year spell in England with Southampton and Leicester City. The French manager failed at Southampton and only spent a year at the club, but to everyone’s surprise, he was handed the reigns at Leicester City in 2017 where he only managed to win 34.33% of his 67 games in charge.

    Let’s not forget, Saint-Etienne are one of France’s most successful football clubs behind Marseille and PSG. Nobody has won as many Ligue 1 titles as Saint-Etienne (10) and the club also hold the record for most home wins in a season (19 in 1974/75).

    This is a big French club, even if it has only claimed one major trophy since 1981, and they are in danger of getting relegated. Some might say that relegation isn’t the worst thing, Saint-Etienne have been through it before and then returned to the top-flight, but in this day and age when money is some important you just can’t be sure how a big club will adapt to live in Ligue 2.

    Saint-Etienne are in trouble this season and even if Claude Puel does manage to guide the club to safety, the people in charge need to find a new manager ASAP.

    Preferably, the club will remove Puel from his position before the end of the season, but with the way the pandemic has affected many club’s finances that might not be possible and Saint-Etienne and their fans will just have to hope Puel can keep them in the top-flight.