The announcement was expected, it was finally made this Thursday: after four years spent on the banks of the Moselle, Frédéric Antonetti will leave FC Metz. Until then, everything had gone very well between Corsica and Lorraine: yes, but here it is, at the end of a painful season, resulting in a return to Ligue 2, the adventure of the 60-year-old coach ended in sawtooth, with a certain bitterness and a smell of waste.
Sometimes, two images are enough to sum up an adventure: in Metz in any case, Coach Antonetti’s season can be summed up via two creations by the Horda Frenetik ultras. For a long time indeed, a sign of their support for the Corsican technician, the supporters of the East stand wore a banner taken from an image of a Metz-PSG on which sat a Frédo with clenched fists, ready to do battle, above with a single word, “Grinta” . Lately, however, it is another symbol that has brightened the bays of Saint-Symphorien: that of an Antonetti compared to Calimero, suddenly accused of never assuming his responsibilities. Between the two, in fact, a completely failed, painful exercise, concluded at the 19e place in Ligue 1, but above all, the end of the love story created by the Lorraine club and its technician. Coach Antonett’s Lorraine escapade indeed ended on Wednesday, with a lot of regrets and a certain bitterness. But how did we get here?
Love lasts three years
The mess is all the greater because something had been created between FC Metz and its coach, both sportingly and humanely. The arrival of the divine Corsican in the summer of 2018 had been accompanied by a wave of hope, that of attracting a technician experienced in elite games in a club then resident in Ligue 2, and above all, to attract an ambitious project. Because at the same time, FC Metz had also launched a plan to modernize its infrastructure, resulting in the construction of a new training center in Frescaty and the expansion of the Saint-Symphorien stadium, still in progress. On the ground, the results had quickly followed: FC Metz had returned to Ligue 1 under the orders of Vincent Hognon and had then maintained it more or less easily during the following two seasons (15e in 2019-2020, 10e in 2020-2021). Largely thanks to the influence of his general manager and his network, at the origin of the recruitment of players like Vincent Pajot, Habib Maïga or Fabien Centonze.
Also off the pitch, a strong relationship had been forged between the employer and the trainer, who was also attached to the Cross of Lorraine, because of his “respect for General de Gaulle” . Above all, on the announcement of the return to Corsica of Frédéric Antonetti during the convalescence of his wife, who unfortunately died in July 2020, FC Metz had, on the one hand, supported its skipper against all odds, and on the other hand, required that he continue to fulfill his responsibilities, even from a distance. A position that affected the Corsican. “I especially wanted to thank the chairman, Bernard Serin, for his unfailing confidence in the difficultyhe said during the celebrations of the Ligue 2 title in 2019, via a message displayed on the screens of the stadium. Beyond the president, for whom I have great esteem, he is the man I want to salute. Finally, I wanted to thank you, supporters, for the many messages of sympathy and support you have sent me. »
The fight, BCBG and scorched earth politics
This season, however, the good agreement between Frédéric Antonetti and FC Metz has seized up. While the club has continued to publicly show its support for its coach, particularly during his tough spat with Sylvain Armand in Lille, which earned the coach a ten-game suspension, the latter has increasingly openly criticized his club, during sometimes surreal press conferences. The public, first of all, took for his rank, accused of being ” hostile ” and responsible for ‘best team performance away’ (before his double victory against Lyon, 3-2, and Angers, 1-0, Metz had won a home match in fifteen months): Frédo, meanwhile, persuaded to be alone against all, said to himself be “the only one who still believes in maintaining” on the sidelines of the 34e day (Metz-Brest, 0-1). But the Corsican of course left no one on the side of the road: recruitment cell, medical staff, training center, all were lit. Stuck according to him in a world of BCBG who hate his temperament, Antonetti gradually withdrew into himself as FC Metz, weighed down by inexplicably weak individual and collective performances compared to last season, flowed towards the League. 2 (which he found after a calamitous season, sold out in the 19e square).
To the point of finally implementing a scorched earth policy. Internally, the tensions went crescendo: Grégory Proment, successful boss of the reserve, as well as Philippe Gaillot, strong man of the sports management since 2005, were thus sacrificed. On the pitch, the fiery bald blew up part of his locker room at the start of the season, replacing players who had come into play a few moments earlier (Lenny Joseph against Lille, 3-3; Papa Ndiaga Yade against Reims, 1 -1; Vagner Dias against Clermont, 2-2). Tactically, he also stuck to a five-defender system that has never worked this season. As for the management of the group, the choice of players has not always been very clear: if his men have benefited from a certain immunity, the young shoots, like William Mikelbrencis or Lenny Lacroix, have not had the same luck. . So much so that at the dawn of a new season in Ligue 2, the workforce, out of breath, should literally crumble over the next few weeks, while hopes, tracked abroad, could also want to pack their bags. The organization chart, cut off from its guru, also needs to be rebuilt. In short, everything has to be redone, when everything seemed, for the first time in a long time in Lorraine, promising. The definition of waste.
By Valentin Lutz