Montpellier v Bordeaux: Preview
Rolland Courbis has backed his young Bordeaux counterpart Willy Sagnol to shine as a Ligue 1 coach - but not before Montpellier have tackled Les Girondins in Saturday's 2014-15 season opener.
At the age of 37, former France defender Sagnol is about to take his first steps into senior club management having landed the Bordeaux job back in May.
His debut will come at the Stade de la Mosson, where Montpellier celebrated lifting the Ligue 1 trophy in 2012 before labouring through the two campaigns that followed to narrowly avoid relegation at the end of last season.
Courbis has usefully predicted his side will finish somewhere between third and 17th place this time around, but feels Sagnol has the potential to lead Bordeaux towards a definite top-half finish.
``Willy has significantly higher than average intelligence,'' he told Sud Ouest. ``He may not have much experience, but neither did (former Bordeaux boss) Laurent Blanc, and we all remember his successful maiden season.
``Willy Sagnol is embarking on a career that I see shining in the very near future.
``But if results are not good, we should exercise caution and not lay the blame with young coaches who are just starting out. They need to be indulged, like players who are making their debuts in Ligue 1.''
Referring to Montpellier's own chances of mounting a revival, which could be slimmer now that star forward Remy Cabella has been sold to Newcastle, Courbis added: ``We will try to be the surprise package in 2014-15.
``It's not off-limits to us and it's not impossible.
``But if we have lost more of our best players by August 31 without buying more, then it will be hard to do better than we did last season!''
Bordeaux midfielder Gregory Sertic also compared Sagnol with Blanc, the current Paris St Germain coach who brought the French championship to the Gironde department back in 2009.
He told L'Equipe: ``He's a coach who has a lot of experience as a player, which is how he started out, and we all saw how well he did with Les Espoirs (France's Under-21 team).
``He's always keen to know about our desires, our personal goals. He has a similar profile to Laurent Blanc and favours a similar style of play.
``Sagnol wants you to get forward quickly, to score goals, and to put on a show.''