In the context of his long exclusive interview granted to the 11 Amiens, Antoine Leautey gave an update on the ambitions of Amiens SC on the eve of the launch of the second half of the season. Delighted to evolve in an environment where expectations are high, the former Niortais believes that his team can compete with everyone and that it is competitive enough to have a say in the race for the climb.
Antoine, how do you envisage the second part of the season for Amiens SC which begins with the reception of Le Havre on Saturday evening?
I think we can be optimistic! I feel that we are going to have a very good second half of the season. I have a lot more confidence today than at the very start of the season. The team we have, what we produce in the game, all that leads me to think that we can do great things. It would be nice to relive the same story as the rise to Ligue 1 in 2017. I think and I am convinced that the best is yet to come. Today, we can compete with anyone. You just have to make fewer mistakes and be more efficient in both penalty areas. From there, we can be a serious candidate for the top of the table. The objective is to move up to Ligue 1 and I think we have the team to do it. The most important thing will be to respond on the pitch, knowing that there are eight or nine teams who are aiming for the same thing as us. It will be a great battle, exciting for everyone, and I’m sure we have the mindset to fight.
Can you understand that some doubt the ability of Amiens SC to withstand the shock in the race for the climb in view of the instability of the first part of the season?
Of course and it’s even normal! If everyone started saying: Amiens will go up to Ligue 1, they have the perfect team” , It is not possible. Of course, we have weaknesses and that’s probably why observers are waiting for recruits. Now, above all, we will have to improve efficiency in the two penalty areas, which was our strength at the start of the season. The typical example of all this is Guingamp. They score on an action that is a long clearance, a poor appreciation of the trajectory and we find ourselves behind in a game that we dominate. In Pau, it’s the same, Papiss (Cissé) scores and there is no offside. It’s the little details that make a big difference.
As Jeremy Gelindo you think that the addition of a more decisive striker can tip this Amiens SC team to another court, that of the favorites for the rise in Ligue 1?
Of course, we can talk about recruitment. Now, Tolu (Arokodare) had scored five goals in eight games at the start of the season, these are excellent standards. We also have Papiss (Cissé), we all know the quality we have in front of goal. We can say that we have to recruit but I don’t think it’s necessarily up front, where we have very good players too. Above all, it’s not my job, I let the club take care of that (smile). I think we already have a great team and if it is reinforced, it’s even better.
At the start of the season, I didn’t think we were capable of going up.
In any case, you don’t have the feeling that it’s vital to give yourself a chance in the race for the climb?
For me, we have our chances by keeping the current team. You also have to pay attention to the injured, you have to take into account the needs of the coach. All that does not depend on me, I do not take care of that.
Without saying that the climbing objective was not present in the locker room from the start of the season, we feel that this subject is no longer taboo and that the ambition is great as this second part of the season approaches…
Personally, at the start of the season, I didn’t think we were capable of going up. And yet, that’s where we got the best results. However, I remained a little reserved, a little cautious. And there, since we earn a little less, I really have the feeling that we have the team or in any case that we produce what it takes to aim for beautiful things. Without saying that we see ourselves already arrived, you just need to have ambition to compete with those who also have the weapons to climb. I really have the feeling that we can do something beautiful.
Isn’t it finally good news this large number of contenders for the climb? This allows Amiens SC to move forward without too much pressure compared to clubs conditioned for it like Metz, Bordeaux, Sochaux or Caen…
It’s true that Caen has just beaten Sochaux and that means that there are eight teams that stand on five points. It’s also exciting for the supporters, even if it also causes a little stress (smiles). Apart from Le Havre which, barring disaster, is off to a good start. It announces an exciting second part of the season and it also proves that the level of Ligue 2 has increased. We still end up with eight or nine teams that can fight for the climb. I remember that for my first season in Ligue 2, it was just after the rise of Amiens, there were Reims and Nîmes which stood out but in a very tough championship. This was less the case the following year for example. It is also over this two-speed championship with four or five teams fighting for the climb and all the other teams fighting for maintenance. There, we see that it’s super tight and that all matches are played on details. I also think that a lot of teams want to go up this year because it looks even tougher next year with four additional Ligue 1 clubs.
If no one talked about us, no one had demands on us, it would be a bit sad.
It’s the first time in your career that you’ve played the leading roles in Ligue 2 for an entire season. What does this change concretely compared to Niort where the objective was above all to maintain?
Many things ! It is only the second year in Niort where they find themselves third at the winter break. Afterwards, there was the departure of the coach and it was more complicated on the return phase. Stress is different! I was also able to notice it in Portugal, where the first year I play maintenance and the second year I play Europe. There is of course more stress when you play the maintenance, you lose a little confidence. When we play at the top of the table, we can be carried by an atmosphere, the group lives much better.
I’ve heard a lot of people talk about that. Honestly, I don’t feel like that. I don’t feel anything different, heavy. There are expectations around the club and I think that’s a good sign! If no one talked about us, no one had demands on us, it would be a bit sad. Amiens would be a club that could be content to play maintenance each season. It’s always a good sign when there’s a wait, it’s that you play in a good club, in a big club. It’s exciting for players! This is what the players are looking for when they go to Paris, Marseille or Lyon in Ligue 1. Personally, I do this job to have pressure, to play at the top of the table, to feel demanding. I find it sucks to play in a team where there is no expectation, or nobody talks about us. Now, everyone sees things differently.
All comments collected by Romain PECHON