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Pretenders to contenders: the rise of Stade Brestois

Paris Saint-Germain is dominating the French league as expected, it is not big spenders like Olympique Marseille, RC Lens, AS Monaco and Stade Rennais, whose combined summer transfer spending came out to 336.4 million euros, that are catching the eyes of fans. Instead, fans are eyeing the team trailing behind PSG: Stade Brestois, whose summer spending was a measly amount of three million euros.

However, the transfers are not the star attraction unlike the previous clubs; the success can mostly be attributed to new manager Eric Roy who has revolutionized Stade Brestois.

When Roy took over for interim manager Bruno Grougi in January,2023, Stade Brestois were sitting 17th in Ligue 1 and on a collision course to be relegated down to Ligue 2. In the half season he had, Roy managed to navigate Stade Brestois to a safe 14th place finish.

Now that Roy has had the keys to the kingdom for a full season, his defensive gameplan has worked wonders for Stade Brestois. Roy’s emphasis on the defensive part of the game has led to only 23 goals allowed this season, which is behind only OGC Nice, who coincidentally were Roy’s former club in 2010-11, with 22 goals allowed.

Attack comes second in Roy’s system. It is a well-balanced engine as there is no clear-cut top scoring attacker as the leading scorer for this side. Romain Del Castillo only has six goals, which ranks him 20th in the Ligue 1 top scorers ranking.

Roy’s system usually would be hard to implement in another league, as it requires the full confidence of the players. However, Roy’s players have sung his praise. Midfielder Hugo Magnetti said of Roy, “I immediately saw a coach who was very close to his players. I felt he listened to them and was not at all a coach who came in with fixed ideas.”

Player cooperation is essential and its presence proves Roy’s skill as a manager. Despite only having one full season with Nice and taking an extended break from football for years until he was appointed sporting director of RC Lens in 2017, immediately leading his second managerial appointment to success is a testimony of his tactics and ideas.

Like every coach who leads a small team to success, Roy may be attracted by a larger European club and the offer may be too good to refuse. But to the relief of the Brest fans, Roy looks to be staying and Stade Brestois are looking to finish out the season and set the Champions League ablaze next year.

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