Nantes: the blur of the show

Winner of Nice in the Coupe de France final this Saturday (1-0), FC Nantes broke two decades of failures and torment to boil the city of the Dukes of Brittany for a weekend, and give back a good dose of pride to his supporters. All in a context that is still just as vague, both sportingly and with regard to the direction. Because all this, a priori, will not be enough to forget the fracture between the stands and the Kita, nor to dislodge the latter from their ivory tower.

It was unexpected, but FC Nantes supporters arrived in the new millennium finally got their shot of dopamine. A new generation of fans lost between this prestigious name and this immense heritage, this heritage too heavy to bear and from which she has lived nothing, this club which she has never known other than hostage of the Kita clan, and this love of the Canaries that she somehow created in the middle of the storm. For the generation of the 2010s, there was the band at Djordjevic, Deaux, Veretout and Cissokho, the conquest of Caen, the rise in the elite after four years in prison and the outpouring that followed, in 2013; there will now be the class of Blas, Kolo Muani, Pallois, Chirivella and Lafont, this sawtooth season, but full of thrills, the epic against Monaco and Nice, the capture of Saint-Denis and the top of the country finally found by the Yellow and Green, in 2022.

From Michel d’Ornano to Tel Aviv

This club, since entering the 21stand century and even before the arrival at the helm of Waldemar Kita, never had any problem going completely, going for example to nothing in Ligue 2 (victory against Metz on May 28, 2005 during the last day) a few months after reaching the final of the League Cup (May 2004) and having won a sixth place in the championship synonymous with qualification for the Intertoto Cup. Like, too, the 2020-2021 diptych of Antoine Kombouaré’s men: just one away goal and a hand from Charles Traoré (in the return play-off against Toulouse last season), Nantes found the antechamber at the end of a clownish season. Nothing has changed in a year or so, except that the executives of this team found their football somewhere between February and March when the Kanak arrived. And yet here is the FCN which is once again on the French football charts, ready to play the standards of France in Tel Aviv against PSG on July 31and to represent the country across the continent in September (18 years after Nantes last appeared beyond our borders, in the semi-finals of the Intertoto Cup against Slovan Liberec).

Waldemar Kita certainly did not foresee that it would be this season that he would finally win a title, after 15 years of leading this yellow and green boat as he sees fit. The Franco-Polish businessman is going through a funny period, he who has never stopped being heckled by the most radical fringe of local supporters, saw Antoine Kombouaré cut ties with him and feels hovering for a while. year now above his business the shadow of the Collectif nantais. Paradoxically, he is currently experiencing the most prosperous sporting period of his mandate in Loire-Atlantique, to the chagrin of his detractors and the movement #KitaOut. Symbol of the fracture between him and his territory, the great chef was not present at the festivities this weekend at Place Maréchal-Foch, certainly too distant from his coach and this team, but above all too resentful of Mayor Johanna Rollandguilty according to him of having buried his dream of YelloPark at the end of the last decade.

Come on Franky

While Ludovic Blas and his teammates boasted Sunday evening in a ceremony where, as usual, the elected officials spoiled the party, the president, master of timing, organized a press conference at La Beaujoire to throw flowers at each other (“We gave all the means to make it succeed”) and initiate the handover to his son: “I’m going to take a step back little by little and give way to Franck (now Deputy CEO) and Philip Mao (sports coordinator). […] My business is flourishing, I will leave the place of president to Franck soon. He already has the same powers as me today. » But no sale on the agenda, therefore, while this trophy was certainly the accomplishment he dreamed of.

“It is true that under the presidency of Kita, it was not easy for the supporters. They did like me, they compartmentalised. I don’t always get on very well with the president. » Antoine Kombouaré after the final

In truth, this victory bears the seal of Antoine Kombouaré above all – who shaped this irresistible group -, but nothing says that the technician will be there in three or four months to provide service after success. A few moments after the coronation of his Canaries, he also let go in front of the France 3 camera, without safeguards vis-à-vis his management: “The fans have suffered a lot. It is true that under the presidency of Kita, it was not easy for the supporters. They did like me, they compartmentalised. I don’t always get on very well with the president. But I put aside, and what interests me is to wear the colors of FC Nantes. »

Amplified suspense in the evening in the mixed zone: “I paid my debt. We paid the debt of all the guys from the Pacific who passed through FC Nantes: Christian Karembeu, Marama Vahirua, John Gope-Fenepej, Victor Zéoula… My little brothers will be able to say that we paid our debt and that we don’t owes nothing to FC Nantes. We can no longer claim anything from us, it’s over. […] We can have relationship problems with management, and I have them too. The daily relationship with the president is not easy. Sometimes, there are mouths that we push, and sometimes silences that we impose. » Randal Kolo Muani is already on his way to Frankfurt. Ludovic Blas, Moses Simon, Alban Lafont or even Andrei Girotto – in other words the elements that have held the walls for a year and a half – could also squat Nantes-Atlantique airport this summer, even if the carrot of the Coupe d’ Europe now exists. In Nantes, it is certainly a cycle that ends in this month of May. But this time, its conclusion is softer than usual.

By Jeremy Baron
Comments by Antoine Kombouaré collected by France 3 or taken from press conferences and mixed zone


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