Ligue 1 Review: Bruno Genesio must take his share of blame for Rennes’ failure to deliver on potential

For the past two summers, Stade Rennais have invested considerably and intelligently. Bruno Genesio’s side undelivered for much of the last campaign, but secured European football thanks largely to dropoffs from teams around them. Once again, Rennes are failing to deliver on the potential within this team. Fingers are beginning to be pointed and the clock could now be ticking on Genesio’s reign.  

The arrivals of Amine Gouiri and Arnaud Kalimuendo in particular in the summer of 2022 were welcome additions to a forward line that already had plenty of firepower. Kalimuendo signed from Paris Saint-Germain off the back of a highly successful loan spell at RC Lens. The France U21 international scored 21 goals during his time with Les Sang et Or (65 appearances). He has not come close to replicating that form with Rennes (45 appearances, nine goals). 

Rennes’ attack gets another makeover

Bar PSG, Rennes were touted as the most exciting attacking outfit in the league in the 2022/23 season. The absence of Martin Terrier was a blow, but with players such as Lovro Majer, Benjamin Bourigeaud, Desiré Doué and the aforementioned Kalimuendo and Gouiri remaining, there was the personnel to compensate for that absence. 

Rennes, thanks to a late run of form, finished third top-scorers in Ligue 1. Statisically, it was a solid season, and their fourth-place finish backed that up. However, there was the overwhelming feeling that Rennes underwhelmed; their inconsistency largely contributed to these perceptions. 

Les Rennais invested once again this summer. Enzo Le Fée, Ludovic Blas and Fabien Reider were the marquee signings as Rennes’ forward line underwent another makeover, whilst the arrival of veteran midfielder Nemanja Matic added some much-needed nouse in the midfield. Rennes have once again struggled, drawing five of their first nine matches, and losing their last three in all competitions. Their latest loss against FC Lorient leaves them ninth in the table and already nine points off league leaders AS Monaco.

‘Mentally, we aren’t at the level of the club’s ambitions at this moment’ – Genesio

Blas has thus far replicated the form he showed at FC Nantes, scoring three goals in 10 appearances since his arrival. However, he is the exception to a rule of stagnation. Few of the promising young prospects that have arrived at the club in the past couple of years have progressed; many have even regressed. Majer is the clearest example of this. His first season was electric, but he was anonymous in his second campaign at the Roazhon Park. Having dropped down the pecking order, he left in the summer and is now rebuilding his career in Germany. 

The common denominator for these failures, for the lack of progression in this youthful side, is Genesio. The Frenchman’s spell as Lyon manager, or at least the latter part of his reign, has been re-appraised in light of Les Gones’ persistent decline since. Genesio’s future is not yet being called into question, but he is already deploying deflection tactics. “Mentally, we aren’t at the level of the club’s ambitions at this moment,” said Genesio following this weekend’s defeat. 

The former Lyon manager added, “Lots of players don’t realise their potential, and they have to realise it and be more free.” Allowing his players to fulfil their potential certainly falls within Genesio’s remit, but he is currently failing. In his criticism, Genesio also alludes to a club culture that is limiting the club, and Les Rennais have often been accused of having a “small club mentality.” However, with the potential in this youthful and exciting side, as well as the continued investment, Rennes are a club looking to take on a new dimension. Genesio needs to show that he is the manager to take them to the next level, and quickly. 

GFFN | Luke Entwistle

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