Ligue 1 news

Fernandez to take over at Montpellier

April 22, 2013
By Ian Holyman, France Correspondent

Jean Fernandez has been named as the man to replace Rene Girard as coach of Montpellier this summer, signing a two-year contract with the reigning French champions.

Jean Fernandez
PA PhotosJean Fernandez left Nancy in January

Fernandez has been out of work since leaving Nancy - then bottom of the Ligue 1 table - in January, and had been included on a three-man shortlist along with current Rennes boss Frederic Antonetti and Real Sociedad's Philippe Montanier, made public by Montpellier president Louis Nicollin on Sunday.

Following a solid if not spectacular playing career with the likes of Marseille and Bordeaux, Fernandez cut his teeth as a coach when succeeding Arsene Wenger as head of Cannes' youth academy, where he nurtured Zinedine Zidane's fledgling talent before putting Franck Ribery's career on track at Metz.

Perhaps Fernandez's greatest success came during a five-year spell at Auxerre, whom he guided to third place and Champions League qualification in 2009-10, an achievement which led to him being named Ligue 1 Coach of the Year.

A team-mate of Fernandez at Bordeaux in the early 80s, Girard guided Montpellier to a first-ever Ligue 1 title last season, but came under criticism from Nicollin for the team's slow start to the current campaign and their underwhelming displays in the Champions League.

Out of contract in June, Girard's fate remained uncertain until he announced in February that he had made a decision regarding his future. He refused to reveal what it was, only for Nicollin to then declare that the former France Under-21 coach would leave the club at the season's end.

"He spoke first, I noted that, and I'm not going to cry or get down on my knees and beg," the colourful Montpellier owner told the press in early March. "In general, I'm happy with his work. I thought we would give him another year. But no-one has ever dictated my decisions. I'm the one who pays here, and I decide. So, we're going to stop there."