Strasbourg: The Stéphan era begins

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New RC Strasbourg Alsace coach Julien Stéphan has wasted no time putting his mark on the club, luring France striker Kevin Gameiro back to the club and bringing in superstar performance consultant Grégory Dupont. Big things are afoot in Alsace!

On the banks of the Krimmeri, a small Alsatian river, the 40-year-old coach's debut has convinced all echelons of a club that has expressed the need to start a new era after five years under Thierry Laurey, the last of which ended with a pitched battle to be a the drop - and a divided locker room. "I don't know if we can talk about a new era," former Stade Rennais coach Stéphan told AFP and France Bleu. "In any case, there is a desire to build on the legacy of quality left here by all the coaches over the past ten years." 'Professional and comprehensive'

This translates into "small changes, small touches", such as the introduction of breakfasts and lunches all week at the Stade de la Meinau. "We're looking to make progress in all areas, on and off the field," said Stéphan, who came from Rennes with assistant Mathieu Lescornet and his performance and video analyst Rudy Cuni. "We must have the most professional and comprehensive organisation possible to put the players in the best conditions to express themselves on the field." This intention has been further backed up by the arrival of Grégory Dupont as performance consultant, made official on July 22, which clearly confirmed the club's desire to optimise in this area. On a personal level, Stéphan got back to work this summer with "tranquility and serenity" four months after his painful resignation from Stade Rennais FC, but for the young and innovative coach, ups and downs are to be expected. "This job is made of good times but also of times when you have to live with other objectives," he explained. "But that's not to suggest that there aren't opportunities to do great things here at Strasbourg." Signings expected The arrival of the new coach has also convinced some key names to stay in Alsace, like talismanic midfielder Dimitri Liénard, 34, who extended for two seasons. Jean-Eudes Aholou, on loan from Monaco last season, returned in mid-July for a new loan with an option to buy this time. "We achieved some great things things with Thierry Laurey," the midfielder told AFP. "After that, the club decided to do something different, and we are very happy." Following on from the capture of marquee signing Kevin Gameiro, who completes a well-stocked attack (Ajorque, Diallo, Waris, Mothiba, Thomasson, Sahi), Strasbourg are still on the track of "a central defender, a left-back and an attacking midfielder", according to Stephan. In defense, only Lucas Perrin, on loan from Marseille, and the Pole Karol Fila have arrived while Mohamed Simakan, captain Stefan Mitrovic, Frederic Guilbert, Lamine Koné and Lionel Carole have left.

Tight-knit "We want a fairly small squad with 17 confirmed Ligue 1 Uber Eats players and some youngsters from the club," said the new Strasbourg boss, also dismissing departure rumours concerning squad stalwarts Ludovic Ajorque and Alexander Djiku. "It seems to me to be the right number to make progress."

Great news for Racing is that the Stéphan method seems to be bearing fruit, with the team notching a promising 3-2 friendly win over Frankfurt, a solid Bundesliga team. They will be out to back this result up on Saturday against Freiburg, another German team, before starting the season at the Meinau against Angers and then going to challenge PSG at the Parc des Princes.

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