New coaching team make Bordeaux bow
By A. Scott
After the sacking of Willy Sagnol, club legend Ulrich Ramé begins his rescue mission in charge of Girondins de Bordeaux when the struggling side play host to SC Bastia at the Matmut Atlantique on Sunday afternoon.
Girondins de Bordeaux - SC Bastia
Former France full-back Sagnol, who led Bordeaux to European qualification last season, was sacked after a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Toulouse FC in the Garonne derby last weekend extended a wretched recent run of form.
Ramé was immediately named as his replacement for the remaining eight games of this campaign at the head of a coaching team which also features former Bordeaux defender Matthieu Chalmé. It is a surprise return to prominence for the 43-year-old ex-goalkeeper Ramé, who spent 14 years as a player for the club, starring in two title-winning campaigns, in 1999 and 2009.
Stepping up from his role as head of performance at the club's youth academy, Ramé is focused fully on turning around Bordeaux's form and pulling the famous club clear of relegation danger - Sagnol left with the team just five points clear of the relegation zone and on a run of just one win in eight matches in all competitions.
"The situation right now is worrying," Ramé said at his unveiling. "Sunday's match is vital. We need everyone to pull together, internally and externally, but it is up to us to earn our stripes and go looking for the victory. That is what the players and staff are focused on. We need stability. The quicker we get that in the team and in performances, the better we will be."
When asked if he was interested in taking the job long-term, Ramé remained coy, saying: "Right now I am here for eight matches. The choices I make will be based only on these eight matches. Was it an easy decision? That is not how I thought of it. I just want to focus on the coming matches and on the form of the team.
"It is the first time I have been on the touchline, but I have studied for my coaching badges with the idea of eventually moving into this. Circumstances dictated that I accepted. I have been through a lot here, like a difficult situation in 2005 (when Bordeaux narrowly avoided the drop). That maybe pushed me into giving back some of what the club gave me over 15 years."
The biggest task facing Ramé is in defence, with Bordeaux leaking goals in recent weeks. Indeed, since losing goalkeeper Cédric Carrasso to a serious knee injury in the 2-2 draw at FC Nantes in late January, Bordeaux have let in 27 goals in 10 games in all competitions. Coming into this weekend, only bottom side ESTAC Troyes had conceded more in the league.
The new coach is not helped by selection problems, with Lamine Sané suspended following his red card at Toulouse last weekend and Carrasso, Nicolas Maurice-Belay, Jaroslav Plasil, Mathieu Debuchy, Nicolas Pallois and Grégory Sertic all on the sidelines.
Bastia are the perfect example of how a change of coach can boost a team. The Corsicans have won four and lost just two of eight games since François Ciccolini replaced Ghislain Printant in the dugout in January, although they saw a five-game unbeaten run ended in a 2-1 defeat at home to LOSC last time out. Describing that defeat as "a lesson", Ciccolini saw his side make it just two points taken from three games in a week at their own Stade Armand-Cesari, where they are usually so hard to beat.
"We know it will be tough right until the end. Nobody is going to gift us anything. Our survival will come from the players and the dressing room," said Ciccolini, who has overseen a sudden turnaround in fortunes on the road.
Bastia failed to win any of their first 12 away games this season but have won their last two, at Stade de Reims and OGC Nice, and they come into this weekend a point above their hosts in the table. However, they are diminished by the absences of Mehdi Mostefa and Yannick Cahuzac due to suspension. In addition, Sadio Diallo is out for the rest of the season after undergoing a hernia operation while Gilles Cioni has been recovering from a jaw fracture.
Bordeaux: Prior; Gajic, Guilbert, Pablo, Contento; Plasil, Yambéré, Vada; Malcom, Diabaté, Rolan
Bastia: Leca; Djiku, Peybernes, Squillaci, Palmieri; Fofana, Danic, Ngando; Ayité, Kamano, Brandão