FEATURE | Evaluating Habib Beye’s first 7 months at Red Star FC

Having been in charge of Red Star’s first team since October 2021, it was rumoured that Habib Beye was set to stay on with the National side going into next season. Two days ago, the former Newcastle, Aston Villa, and Marseille defender’s new two-year deal was made official.

Beye had met with several representatives of new owners 777 Partners and the incoming sporting director of the club, Reda Hammache, in order to gain a clearer picture of the new American owner’s longer term vision for the Parisian suburban club.

Red Star finished a mostly disappointing season in 11th in the National 1 league with 13 wins, 6 draws, and 15 losses. A final day 5-1 home win over Concarneau nevertheless ended the season on the pitch in emphatic fashion.

However, it hasn’t been at all plain sailing for the regular Canal+ presenter. In October 2021 Red Star were struggling in National 1 under Vincent Bordot; a record breaking 6-0 defeat at the hands of Annecy became the straw that broke the camel’s back for president Patrice Haddad and the Red Star hierarchy.

Beye took over the club in a context where the ultimate goal of promotion to Ligue 2 had quickly dematerialised after a discouraging start to the season with only 2 wins in the first 6 games. A defeat at Villefranche (1-0) kicked off his tenure in a similar fashion – yet promising results against Cholet (4-2) and an absolute dismantling of Avranches (6-1) away from home marked an upward turn in mid-season form.

A decent run in the Coupe de France culminated in Monaco visiting a packed Stade Bauer in the third round of the competition – which saw Wissam Ben Yedder score a brace for the visitors in a 2-0 victory against Beye’s battling and competitive Red Star side.

Beye has quickly grasped the nature of management in France’s 3rd tier, with 11 wins, 11 defeats, and 6 draws since joining – doing enough to keep a generally underperforming Red Star team in the division. This is also within the context of a club with a noticeable rift between its new ownership and the fans.

One of the manager’s strengths has been getting the best out of 24 year-old forward Pape Meïssa Ba – who has scored 21 goals in 31 appearances and earned the title of National 1 top scorer. An improved brand of football has also given the side a chance in games where they don’t necessarily start well, whilst consistency still remains a problem for a young squad made up predominantly of free transfers and loan players coupled with the experience of Cheikh and Mayoro N’doye (36 and 30 years old respectively) and Ludovic Butelle (39 years old).

The real test will come over the summer and next season. It will be a chance for Beye – who is set gain his coaching diploma – to further implement his style on the team over the summer transfer window. However, with interest in the squad’s most talented players such as Ba and left-winger Damien Durand from several Ligue 2 sides, it is to be seen how much 777 Partners will allow the club to spend on transfers without selling its most desirable assets. What comes out of the club’s owners current conflict with the fans is also a key factor which will have a dramatic influence on the conditions in which Beye will be fighting for promotion.

Whatever the changes off the pitch, keeping Habib Beye at the club is key for creating a sense of continuity on it – his record last season has warranted at least a shot at promotion next season.

George Boxall

More European Football News