Crisis at Nice: Fans protest as captain Dante criticises club’s management

OGC Nice fans made their discontent felt on Sunday. The Allianz Riviera was sparsely populated as Les Aiglons drew 0-0 against Toulouse, whilst club captain Dante was critical of the club’s management this season, particularly the summer transfer window. 

The club’s two major Ultras groups announced prior to Sunday’s match against Toulouse that they would be on strike during the match. The Populaire Sud, known for there fervent and often firey support of Le Gym were the first to announce their strike, and the North Side joined the movement on Saturday in what is the largest display of supporter discontent of the INEOS regime. 

If you don’t want to play, why support you,” said North Side in a statement. The recent performances, which see Nice languish in mid-table are a large part of that discontent, but as is the management of the club itself. The two groups announced they would be silent during the match. The official attendance at the match was 20,041, but the true figure of those present at the Allianz Riviera on Sunday was lower.

The air of discontent in the stands was mirrored during the post-match press duties. Manager Didier Digard was unhappy with the protests, saying that “the players don’t deserve it.” 

He added, “I have never seen that here, and I even had some difficult ends of seasons here. We were always united. I am very disappointed.”

Meanwhile, in the mixed zone, club captain Dante was critical of the management at the club. “I think at some point you have to be clear in what you’re saying. To maintain a project, maybe you need to speak less about objectives and work in silence to create an environment of competitors. Because the expectation is even bigger, and then after, people are frustrated,” he began, in an interview, transcribed by L’Équipe. At the end of last season, INEOS and Nice owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe said that he wanted Nice to compete with Paris Saint-Germain for the Ligue 1 title. 

The best thing to do is to prepare as quickly as possible for next season in order to start it well. Do you remember how many players came in at the end of the transfer window last summer? Six left, six arrived. It’s difficult in these conditions. Simply, we mustn’t make the same errors,” continued the former Bayern Munich centre-back, who recently signed a one-year extension. Following the departure of Julien Fournier, it was Iain Moody who took charge of Les Aiglons’ window. 

If someone wants my opinion, the earlier we organise ourselves, the better it will be. If we want to aim higher, we have to anticipate things and put the values of the organisation in place,” he added. 

Dante concluded by criticising the articulation of the club’s objectives. “When the coach (Lucien Favre) arrived, we said in two years that we would always be in the Champions League. It doesn’t work like that. Ligue 1 is very difficult. We lost 10 players, 10 arrived. The teams in the semi-finals of big competitions play together for three, four years. We changed everything last summer. There is a lack of coherence somewhere. I am sorry to say that. To be more concrete, how many players have been consistent this season? The response is simple. A competitive team has 12, 13, 14 players at the top level.”

GFFN | Luke Entwistle

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