Despite falling to PSG on Friday evening, Metz's return to the top flight has been cause for optimism so far. Vincent Hognon is the man in charge wth Frédéric Antonetti piloting things from behind the scenes.
There is a feeling of calm around France's perennial yo-yo club, as coach Vincent Hognon looks to guide them towards top-flight stability. Hognon told The Ligue 1 Show on beIN Sports: "This group never gets caught up in the emotional side of things, even last season when we finished with 81 points, there was never any euphoria, never! I hope we can remain as calm this season, because we know it that things will be difficult at times this season. I'm hoping to maintain a certain stability because this is a young group that will need reassuring at times, and that's how we will progress!"
Despite winning the Domino's Ligue 2 title, things were far from stable in Metz last season. At the turn of the year Hognon, unexpectedly became head coach when Antonetti stepped down for personal reasons. From a distance, Antonetti continued to advise - something that will carry on this term.
Hognon on Antonetti: "It's an important relationship"
Hognon explained: "We're working the same way we worked last season, for the reasons that have been stated, Fred is no longer present here in Metz so I've been in charge since December. We speak regularly on the phone, we talk things through, and have video sessions. He's somebody I look up to a lot. He brought me to Saint-Etienne, to Nice and here to Metz so it's an important relationship we have, and he's extremely reliable!"
Indeed the relationship between Antonetti and Hognon dates back to 2002, when the latter was brought in by the Corsican coach to bolster Saint-Etienne's defence. In August last year, Antonetti decided he wanted his former defender to join the Metz coaching team, recalling a winning attitude that Hognon is now passing on to the current crop.
Hognon said: "I've always been very serious in the way I work and in the way I played because I'm a hardened competitor, losing a match for me was unbearable, it wasn't a bout scoring goals, it was about winning games but you can't get as worked up as a coach, you have to learn to lose because this is sport, it happens! But if we are to go down, we have to go down fighting!"