It looks like there are going to be a few changes here. Firstly, Mouez Hassan has gone back to Nice after a season long loan and he was one of the best keepers in Ligue 2. Coming in as a replacement is Venezuelan Jose Contreras, whom I know virtually nothing about. He could be great or awful, only time will tell. Remy Pillot isn’t the worst backup custodian in the world, although nothing special. Overall, I expect them to be downgraded due to Hassan’s departure. The defence itself has lost two regular starters - Chaker Alhadur and Cheik Traore. I think left and right back options don’t look that great. For example Christopher Operi is set to start in one of those spots but he's very young and raw. Things look better for them in central defence with Gregory Bourillon, Yannick M’Bone and the newly signed Sekou Conde reasonably solid on their day. Chateauroux don’t have brilliant DMID options but they have enough guys in their squad to cover this position, Opa Sangate is perhaps the most important. Overall, I expect Les Berrichonne to have good and bad days at the back this year. There will be a lot of inconsistency which makes them hard to predict.
Key players - Yannick M’Bone (DC), Gregory Bourillon (DC/DM)
Without doubt, the key man for Le Berri last year was box to box midfielder Sidy Sarr. He was their top scorer with 11 goals and had a knack of popping up in the right place at the right time. Chateauroux have wasted no time in signing him to a permanent deal from Belgian side Kortrijk. Sarr will be vital once again, as will striker Oumare Tounkara who can chip in with a few goals and assists. One man who might be missed is Said Benrahma who ended up with quite high productivity figures for the club last season. The likes of Maxime Barthelme, Razak Boukari and Christophe Mandanne still remain on the books and they have a few decent options in attack. Do they have any real star class apart from Sidy Sarr? No, but there’s enough variety for them here to be competitive. The addition of another good quality striker or centrally offensive midfielder would make them a stronger force. Chateauroux will have very up and down days in front of goal and could be quite enigmatic in this sort of way.
Key players - Sidy Sarr (AM), Oumare Tounkara (ATT)
Coaching, other factors & conclusion
Head coach Jean-Luc Vasseur has a pretty good career record down in Ligue 2. The one job he had in the top flight ended in failure at Reims but at this particular level its hard to criticise him much. I usually feel that Vasseur likes to try and get his teams to play attractive football when possible and he’s definitely an asset to a club like Chateauroux. I thought they did a good job last season following a promotion campaign, obtaining the 7th best home record and 6th best on the road. This was only good enough for 9th overall, but they were only five points off a playoff position. With a little bit of improvement they could make the next step. I personally think this team are one of the hardest to predict this season. It wouldn't surprise me if they became a contender for the playoffs, but equally if they slipped down the table a bit nobody would be shocked. What is more likely to happen is a mixture of the two and for Les Berrichonne to remain around mid table, perhaps with slightly less points this year. There will be some games when they look unstoppable. But inconsistent performances and too many ups and downs will probably be an achilles heel.
Prediction - Midtable