Scores Rennes en direct
1 February 2012 | à 00h09

Mandjeck, just a substitute ?

Departures. After a year and a half in Brittany, Georges Mandjeck is leaving the Rouge et Noir and moving to Burgundy. The Cameroonese failed to become a first team regular in Rennes, because o a strong competition, and of some difficult relationships.

Mandjeck, just a substitute ?

This Tuesday, Georges Mandjeck signed a four and a half year contract with AJ Auxerre, and will therefore continue his career in Ligue 1. A league he joined a year and a half ago when he was transferred at the Stade Rennais following three seasons in the Bundesliga. The Cameroon international never ever managed to get rid of his label as a second choice. And this despite a rather successful repositioning at centre back.

A failed transfer...

As soon as July 2010, when Stade Rennais tried to recruit him from VfB Stuttgart, Mandjeck knew what to expect: it would be difficult to provide a true competition for M’Vila, the club’s first choice at defensive midfield. Not too talkative in the press conference at his arrival, he then affirmed clearly what his favourite position is: “Centre Defending Midfielder”. No mention (yet) of a possible repositioning in order to gain playing time.

In summer 2010, Mandjeck was nearly a symbol of the admitted recruitment policy by Stade Rennais: strength, muscle, in order to rival physically with the biggest teams in the league. A player with a heavy physical impact who, with time, became the prime example of an excessive impact at midfield. His challenge on the ankle of Valencienne’s Renaud Cohade only came to reinforce this reputation.
During more than a year, Mandjeck remained the named substitute of Yann M’Vila, only playing bits of games. By positioning the young French international one notch higher, Frédéric Antonetti indeed gave a chance to the Cameroonese, who managed a good game at the Parc des Princes at the end of summer 2010. But the chance was soon gone, and Mandjeck returned to the bench, only entering during the games to keep the score.

... to a successful reconversion

A year after his arrival, his status remained unchanged and his future in Brittany seemed uncertain. Finally, a cascade of injuries in defence brought what could be a turning point in his career. In the absence of Boye, Mangane and Apam, all injured, Frédéric Antonetti tried his luck and included at centre back in his starting line-up to face the Atlético Madrid. And against Falcao’s team, Mandjeck shone, unexpectedly. Still looking for his bearings – he had never played at this position – he revealed a real potential ability for this position, enough to convince himself.

«I feel good at centre-back, better than I do at midfield, he then recognised. In a career, a professional must be able to adapt to a new position”. This revelation came as a breath of fresh air for Antonetti, who enjoyed having a new solution in defence, while Mangane extended his time off injured by another few weeks.

Soon, Mandjeck’s image change completely for a Rennes public which mocked him just a few weeks earlier. The “new” Rennes defender saw his popularity rise dramatically, and he even dedicated one of his trademark haircuts to the supporters, tainting his usually blonde Mohawk in red.

«How do you want...»

However, in Frédéric Antonetti’s mind, Mandjeck is not remotely as popular. For the Rennes manager, one doesn’t become an experienced centre back in a few games, and the trip to Nice allowed him to send a strong signal to his player: rather than give him another start, the Corsican manager preferred to bring Théophile-Catherine at the centre of the field alongside Boye, with Mavinga starting at left back. A choice poorly accepted by Mandjeck, who returned in the starting eleven the following week however, because of the suspension of Boye, dismissed in Nice.

This next game would be the derby against Brest. And during this game, the erratic display of the Rennes defenders strongly annoyed their manager. Already responsible on the first goal, where he left Nolan Roux perfectly unmarked, Mandjeck committed a stupid foul in the second half, which could have been punished with a red card. Antonetti then entered in a fit of rage. “How do you want to finish in the top 3 with players like this?”, the Rennes manager yelled from the touchline, shouting at his player for several minutes before eventually taking him off the pitch.
Half way between a message to his management and a clear annoyance at the demands of Mandjeck (the player affirmed later that he had managed “quality games” and that he had been frustrated by the situation in Nice), the bust-up was widely mentioned in the media. It also, nearly, rang the end of the player’s time in Rennes.

«No reason to go anywhere else»

Indeed, although the anger made place on the very next day to a mea culpa from Antonetti, Mandjeck was logically hurt. After living his manager’s angry comments in public “badly”, the Cameroon international announced in January that he had “gone over” the incident and had never managed to be transferred as a consequence.

Forget everything and back to square one? In fact, after a disappointing trip to Madrid and Ajaccio, the Cameroonese was left on the side-lines. An injury which some considered diplomatic for the last game of 2011 against Bordeaux, and a place on the bench during the whole of January. It is true that the return of Apam happened as a stumbling block regarding the possible future of Apam at centre back, but he didn’t even enter as a substitute at midfield once, as he was used to do until last October.
«The objective is not to leave and escape the competition, he explained on 6th January . In Rennes, I still managed to get some playing time. I have no reason to go anywhere else. It would be too easy”. Three weeks and… zero minutes later, Mandjeck is on his way to Auxerre.

The AJA, in great difficulties over the last few weeks, should offer him more playing time ans, maybe, a real future at a centre-back position where he still has much to learn. On the short term, Stade Rennais is only losing one of its back-up solutions. The long term will tell if the club has also lost an excellent defender in the making.

Ajouter un commentaire

Enter your comment here
  • This form accepts SPIP shortcuts {{bold}} {italic} -*list [text->url] <quote> <code> and HTML code <q> <del> <ins>. To create paragraphs, just leave empty lines.

Who are you?

To show your avatar with your message, register it first on (free et painless) and don’t forget to indicate your Email addresse here.