ESTAC have moved to sign Mamadou Samassa, an experienced goalkeeper from Ligue 1 side Guingamp. He should actually be a decent acquisition and offer a reassuring ability in between the sticks, although is quite old now. Backing him up is Matthieu Dreyer, who is ok at this level. Troyes have signed four new defenders, all of whom should be contenders to start. On the right hand side, Jeremy Cordoval has impressed with Nimes in recent years and is especially good offensively, offering some rare pace to this team. On the left hand side Jordan Obiang arrives from National ligue side Chateauroux. He has played at this level before, although similar to Cordoval he likes to get forwards when he can. This means Troyes will have fullbacks who might be too ambitious, leaving potential holes. In the middle of defence Jeremy Giraudon follows his coach out of Grenoble and joins him here. He’s never played at this level before though, so there are definitely some doubts. The final addition is Christophe Herelle from Creteil. But he was part of an horrific defence last season for a relegated team and hardly brings any reassurances.
Charles Traore is another option at left back who is ok, whilst Johan Martial in the middle seems to have really gone downhill in the last couple of seasons. He once had a great potential but has been ruined by this club. Sadly, the rest of Troyes’ defensive options are effectively in their own separate hospital ward at the club! You have the likes of Kone, Saunier, Rincon & N’Diaye who are still under contract. It’s rare any of them are actually fit and spend more time on the treatment table than on the field! In defensive midfield, ESTAC will rely on yet another player who is often injured - Thiago Xavier. This is someone I actually rate, but he has also regressed in recent years and it’s clear fitness issues have affected him. Alois Confais is their only other real defensive midfielder, and maybe has a bright future. Confais can also play right back if required and could develop into a talent, maybe he’s in the wrong surroundings though. Troyes look a bit lightweight in defensive areas. Things could be worse but there are a lot of question marks surrounding certain players and they lack depth, especially in defensive midfield.
Key players: Mamadou Samassa (GK), Thiago Xavier (DM)
ESTAC don’t lack for options upfront, the problem is they lack for quality. They are desperately hoping someone unexpectedly steps up this year or a couple of youngsters develop into good players. New strikers include Mamadou Sissoko from Le Havre, Jan Kaye from Evian, a returning Raphael Caceres & Mour Paye from Lyon reserves. Only Caceres has any sort of proven history, although Kaye showed some promise with Evian at times last season. One of their own players who will be in contention to start upfront is Deniz Hummet. I don’t personally like the look of this strikeforce. It’s possible someone could produce the goals out of nowhere but I don't think many opponents will look at this lineup and worry too much. Things do look better in attacking midfield and out wide, but again there are plenty of other issues.
Benjamin Nivet is still going, despite being nearly 40. He has never been one to rely on pace and has good technical skills, but he’s really in the twilight of his career now and I’m not sure what’s left in the tank. Tristan Dingome, an ex Monaco and Le Havre player is a new signing who might be useful. He’s always capable of playing on the wings. Stephane Darbion is 32 years old now and will be one of their main players either on the left or right. He’s not particularly fast, but quite a good crosser of the ball. Troyes will hope that guys like Ben Saada, Azamoum or even a young player like Samuel Grandsir can deliver a decent season. ESTAC are waiting for men to stand up. They have plenty of guys on their books in the final third, but it appears to me as though they lack serious quality. I think this is a really difficult attack to predict, but my gut instinct says it’ll struggle unless certain guys raise their game, or unless some better reinforcements are added.
Key players: Raphael Caceres (ATT), Stephane Darbion (winger)
Coaching, other factors & conclusion
Jean Louis Garcia takes over the helm of this troubled club. Garcia was once a highly sought coach and had a number of superb years managing Angers. But all seemed to go downhill as soon as he took on the Lens job. He effectively failed there, then took Chateauroux to relegation. He regrouped at Grenoble last season, very nearly taking them from the CFA into the National division. Now he takes on a very difficult job at a club where the mood is still very negative. Troyes had an appalling season in Ligue 1, hardly winning a game and putting up some horrific performances. It was an example of a club obtaining promotion, but actually doing them more harm than good. This is now a big rebuilding project. Although fans will expect more, I think a good outcome for them this year is simply to avoid relegation. I’ve seen many teams struggle after coming down from the top flight. Teams like Valenciennes, Evian, Ajaccio & even Sochaux in recent years have encountered difficult campaigns. There are question marks in all areas of the squad, and this is a roster which seems a bit of a mess with lots of arrivals and departures, adding to a lot of dead wood already here. It’s possible ESTAC could surprise, but despite a lot of bookies ranking them as one of the favourites, I think they’ll struggle. This is as really difficult side to predict, but my gut feeling is the best they can achieve is a midtable spot.