29th August 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
With three wins from his first four matches to start his reign as manager of Saint-Etienne, Oscar Garcia's appointment is certainly proving an inspiring one.

While it'll take some time for the man who's wedded to the ideals of Johan Cruyff, that he was introduced to during his playing days at FC Barcelona and subsequently honed as a B team coach at the famous club, to implement his methodology at Les Verts, there's been plenty to admire about his fast start.

Consisting of a nice blend of exciting youngsters, experienced veterans and players in their prime, Garcia has so far done a solid job of transmitting his managerial nous into his interesting squad. Using the skillsets of his players to good effect, his attacking and midfield operators have emerged as real highlights. Featuring the pace of the likes of Jonathan Bamba and Lois Diony, the ingenuity of Romain Hamouma and Bryan Dabo, plus the crisp distribution of midfielder, Ole Selnaes, these men have been very important in executing Garcia's plans.

Playing in what's ostensibly been a 4-3-3 that takes on varying forms including a 2-3-5 during their build up passages, Garcia has unsurprisingly instructed his troops to pass out from the back whenever possible. The Norwegian midfielder, Selnaes, has been instrumental towards this, for his clever movement to find space between the opposition's attacking and midfield lines has seen him able to receive possession and use his accomplished passing qualities to dictate the game.

Ably supported by more advanced central midfielders, Dabo and Assane Diousse, who like to buzz around and perform subtle rotations with their wingers, plus the high positioning of talented full backs, Ronael Pierre-Gabriel and Saidy Janko, Selnaes is regularly afforded many options to utilise. The way Hamouma and Bamba will persistently drift infield into the half spaces sees them provide vital extra options, something that also gives them a strong foundation to combine in close proximity and generates space out wide for the full backs to motor into.

Furthermore, the speedsters upfront have been very influential in stretching opposition defensive units with their runs into depth, which also importantly creates space in the 10 spaces to be exploited. Indeed, it's been promising to see how Garcia has tinkered his approach and opted to mix more composed build up with long balls to cater for his pacy forwards.

The centre backs have also played their part in Les Verts' offensive forays, for Kevin Theophile-Catherine and Loic Perrin have not only been largely solid in their passing but also effective when carrying the ball into midfield areas with a view of drawing out an opposition midfielder to make space for a teammate to exploit.

Although it's still early days and there's still been many mistakes in their matches, which is to be expected during this adjustment phase to Garcia's tactics, the 44-year-old deserves credit for orchestrating his team's blistering start.

Chairman Bernard Caiazzo would be feeling an undoubted sense of vindication about the club's decision to place their faith in the man who's previously coached teams such as Brighton & Hove Albion, Watford, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Red Bull Salzburg, especially considering his glowing comments at Garcia's unveiling.

"ASSE wanted a coach of international dimension capable of producing a beautiful game," he gleamed. "Roland Romeyer, [sporting director] Dominique Rocheteau and I chose Oscar Garcia because he seems to us to be the man with his staff who best corresponds to the values of the Greens."

"We have taken the time to choose a coach capable of taking the club to the next level in its progress. We have studied a number of candidates. Oscar Garcia has the ideal profile. He's capable, as shown by his success at Salzburg, but also passionate, experienced and innovative. I'm convinced he'll help ASSE improve.

"He's a man of character who grew up surrounded by a winning culture and good football. We're starting a new development cycle with ambition and enthusiasm."

After the robust, less attackingly geared football played under previous manager, Christophe Galtier, Garcia's philosophy should be a breath of fresh air to the Rhone Valley outfit.

Despite being unable to register four consecutive wins due to their loss against the mighty PSG at the weekend, Saint-Etienne certainly look to be in good hands under the Cruyff inspired tactician.

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