September 29, 2023

Artem Denisov – about Clermont.

In France, against the backdrop of the grandiose success of Lance, the fabulous story of Clermont is clouded. The 2021/22 season was the first for him in the history of Ligue 1 – 17th place, the last safe, then only joints and relegation. Season 2022/23 is already the 8th position.

And this is not just a pleasant middle peasant, hooked on a place in the top 10.

In terms of finances, Clermont is inferior to the entire Ligue 1. In the 2021/22 season, the team was last in terms of wages, spending almost half as much as Lorient from the penultimate place. In the 2022/23 season, Clermont is the penultimate club in terms of salaries, below only Ajaccio, which was hopelessly relegated. 

And Clermont enjoys life. And it’s not just a very lucky coincidence.

Clermont is the most coaching team. So much so that in Ligue 2 she was compared to Cruyff’s Barcelona and Ajax. So much so that coach Pascal Gastien has a son, a conductor of ideas on the field, whom his father named Joan in honor of Cruyff. So much so that the current owner of Clermont bought the club after clandestine visits to matches and admiration for Gastien’s attacking football. 

This is how Clermont quite deservedly collects the enthusiasm of neutral spectators of the French championship. 

The leader of Clermont is the coach’s son. Without blat

The football fates of Pascal Gastien (father) and Joan Gastien (son) are strongly intertwined. Pascal coached Niort’s reserve team for a long time (2000-2009), and then (2009-2014) led the main team. Joan was brought up at the Niora Academy (1997-2007), then he played for a long time for the first team, including under the guidance of his father (2007-2013). When Pascal coached Niort’s reserves, father and son even played together in the center of the field, because there were not enough players for the match. 

It was a productive collaboration – Niort moved up from the fourth division (amateur level) to Ligue 2. 

Joan then tried out at Dijon (League 1) and Brest, Pascal – at Chateauroux, but in both cases everything ended sadly. The family reunited in 2018. Pascal spent the 2016/17 season in the Clermont reserve team, at the beginning of the 2017/18 season he rose to the base, before the 2018/19 season he invited his son. They’ve been together for five seasons in a row. No one has been in the club for a long time. 

Gastien Sr. brought up Joan in the tradition of Barcelona football: combinational football and complete control. 

Author’s confession: I saw Clermont’s first game in Ligue 1 history (2-0 against Bordeaux in August 2021) and was shocked by the quality of Joan Gastien’s pass. He calmly led the Clermont draws, going down between the central defenders, building triangles and rhombuses with partners, moving the ball closer to someone else’s penalty area – no jerks or dribbling, only football through the pass. As if Busquets was tired of everything, and he decided to have fun in the basement of Ligue 1. 

In the 2021/22 season, only one Ligue 1 player has provided more passes per 90 minutes than Joan Gastien. This is Marco Verratti. Simply outstanding when adjusted for club differences: PSG made over 700 passes per game, Clermont 514. 

Gastien also finished the 2022/23 season in a high 12th place in passes per match. Clermont slowed down possession, became a more vertical team, but even so, Gastien is useful, because he plays the ball coolly not only in short order – he can play through diagonals and throws. He is already 35 years old, but due to the quality of the passes, he remains a sought-after deep playmaker for Clermont. Dad taught.

Pascal was never accused of nepotism. “It is both easy and difficult for me to play under my father,” said Joan. – Easy, because since childhood I have known and shared my father’s football ideals. It’s difficult because he’s very demanding.” In August 2022, Joan missed the birth of his daughter because of the match with Lorient – he cheated himself that this could badly affect Pascal’s reputation. 

Joan always protected his father. In the 2021/22 season, Saint-Étienne coach Pascal Duprat boasted after a 2-1 victory: “We had the pleasure of beating a team that claims to be Guardiola’s laurels.” Joan replied: “Let other coaches spit at my father, but I am proud of him for the fact that Clermont remains true to its principles and never gives up.” Clermont remained in Ligue 1, while Duprat and Saint-Étienne were relegated.

Or else – in the material for France Football, Joan touched his father: “You deserve great recognition. You turned down offers from Ligue 1 clubs to stay at Clermont and take the club to the top division in gratitude for the fact that Clermont believed in you. What you do with Clermont is strong and beautiful. And I’m talking about you now as a coach, not as a father.”

Clermont Gastien was adored in Ligue 2. Blatter’s ex-assistant bought the club after clandestine visits to matches

“I don’t want the people who came to see Clermont to be bored,” said Pascal Gastien.

Clermont impressed the audience already in the first matches in Ligue 1-2021/22. The team played very confidently in attacking combinational football, territorially dominated for long stretches even against PSG. It was very nice to look at the beautiful pranks of unknown players.