Christopher Operi (def)(KAA Gent); Djamal Moussadek (def)(Le Mans FC); Arthur Desmas (gk)(Clermont Foot); Gautier Lloris (def)(AJ Auxerre); Oualid El Hajjam (def)(ESTAC Troyes); Yann Kitala (att)(FC Sochaux);
Yahia Fofana (r)(gk)(Angers SCO); Himad Abdelli (sp)(mid)(Angers SCO); Pierre Gibaud (r)(def)(FC Versailles); Alexandre Bonnet (r)(mid)(Quevilly Rouen Metropole); Jean-Pascal Fontaine (sp)(mid)(released); Matthis Abline (r)(att)(Stade Rennais, end of loan); Thierno Baldé (r)(def)(Paris Saint Germain, end of loan); Ismaël Boura (r)(def)(Racing Club de Lens, end of loan); Isaak Toure (sp)(def)(Olympique Marseille);
There was a moment, last season, when Le Havre looked capable of a push for the top 5 and the promotion playoffs. In fact, they were 6th, having lost only 2 games out of the initial 17. Then, they started losing for fun (12 times in the final 21 games) and their ambitions had to be downsized. They finished 8th, a long way from both promotion and relegation. Coach Paul Le Guen, never the supporters' darling, thus saw the end of his tenure at the club after 3 years.
The management then hired Luka Elsner and this looks as a risky choice. The almost 40-year-old Slovenian comes off an array of unimpressive campaigns, at Amiens and in Belgium, and might turn out a major disappointment.
Carrying on with their policy of rejuvenation, the management also let go aging starters Bonnet and Gibaud together with Fontaine, who had been at the club for over 10 years. Promising centre-back 19-year-old Toure was sold for cash while starting goalie Fofana left for pastures new. Just as well, loanees Abline, an 18-year-old striker capable of 6 goals and 3 asissts in 16 games, and starting fullbacks Boura and Baldé all returned to their parent clubs.
With Gorgelin acquiring a starting status, expert Desmas was signed as a back-up in goals. Centre-back Lloris, who had a great season two years ago at Auxerre but failed to repeat himself last campaign, is set to become a protagonist in the heart of the defence. Newly-arrived full-backs Operi and El Hajjam should also acquire starting roles with Wahib out for the season. Moreover, striker Kitala arrived from Sochaux, having failed to leave a mark in the past season after returning from a long-lasting injury.
Great news is that they managed to retain Thiare and Cornette in the attack.
Le Havre aim at a return in the top 5 and have the right squad for that but Elsner looks like the wrong man in the right place. Another top 10 finish is more likely.