This Thursday, an (umpteenth) documentary about Guy Roux is released on Amazon Prime. Subtitle A history of France, he recounts the bond that unites the man in the cap with the club of his life, AJ Auxerre. The problem is that you don’t learn much new. Despite this, paying for a little nostalgia shot for 90 minutes is not necessarily unpleasant.
Somewhere, you could say that the Amazon Prime team had a pot with the rise of AJA in Ligue 1, after a stifling barrage against AS Saint-Étienne. The end of this decade of purgatory for the icaunaise team came at the right time to release its long-format documentary devoted to the most beautiful VRP of the Blue and White: Guy Roux. For 90 minutes, the octogenarian tells his story in the first person, with the support of a few personalities who have marked his Ajaist journey. Among them, former players from all eras (let’s mention a jumble of Lionel Charbonnier, Éric Cantona, Djibril Cissé, Lucien Denis…), but also local personalities (starting with Gérard Delorme, former head of sports at Republican Yonne)henchmen of the club (Gérard Bourgoin, Daniel Rolland, Guillaume Collin …), not to mention a few appearances random (Raymond Domenech, Jacques Vendroux and, more surprisingly, Sir Alex Ferguson). In other words, the casting is strong, and each speaker has their say. By adding to it a slick realization, pretty aerial shots and a package of archive images – sometimes rare – and quite well chosen, it ends up giving a sympathetic story that lasts the time of a football match, of the kind of those who hold their breath from the start to the final whistle.
Some (pretty) warmed up
The problem is that nothing presented is really exclusive. By dint of media presence for nearly half a century, embellished with a handful of autobiographies, the character of Guy Roux ended up being known as the white wolf. From his modest childhood between Yonne and Haut-Rhin to his beginnings as a player-manager in the early 1960s, from his paternalistic and uncompromising personality to his old-fashioned working methods, the irresistible rise that is presented to us brings nothing new to anyone who knows the man at all (Cantona and Cissé are there to tell once again the anecdotes of odometers, spies at tolls and the need to make your bed and say hello ). To caricature, we will say that this modern tale is an achievement for 99% of AJ Auxerre supporters and – with a big dipper – 80% of French football fans. The almost inevitable risk to avoid falling into the copy-paste of what has been done in the past is to step aside (for example by talking about AJA in a general way or by leaving the microphone troublemaker Gérard Bourgoin who, by his legendary verve, also offers himself a particularly comical biographical chapter, especially when it comes to recounting his prowess as a self-taught airplane pilot). And so, moving away from the character of Guy Roux, who was supposed to be the subject of the documentary. Probably the reason why this one is subtitled A history of France and thus gets out of it by a skilful pirouette.
The timeline restraint has a few holes that are difficult to explain, except to stay within the nails of the imposed length. Example with European epics: if the elimination against Dortmund in the semi-finals of the 1993 UEFA Cup is told in detail (and breaks the hearts of those who have forgotten the tears of Stéphane Mahé), no reference to the trauma of this quarter of C1 1997 against the same Borussia after the goal unfairly canceled to Lilian Laslandes. Same thing with the origins of the construction of the training center, yet directly linked to the final of the Coupe de France 1979, lost against FC Nantes and which is well told there again. Not a word either on the burn-out which caused his temporary withdrawal from the land at the turn of the 21st century.e century for the benefit of reserve coach Daniel Rolland, who is nevertheless recognized – and rightly so – for the preponderant role in the detection of young talents who also represent a pillar of the Auxerre house.
The 1994 Coupe de France is one of the forgotten moments in the club’s history.
In summary, the main criticism that we would address to this documentary is its somewhat catch-all side, especially if we compare it to the portrait made by France 3 Bourgogne in 2018 for the 80th anniversary of the patriarch and which offers an intimate dive into a setting that is both historical and geographical. Perhaps less mainstream, but certainly more touching. Impossible not to mention Rootedreleased in 2013 and during which Canal+ had followed the man in the hat for nine months, a inside in the long run which also gave a document for history. At the time, he had benefited from a very guyrouxesque : the interested party had organized a preview in an Auxerre cinema without any privilege, the 5 euros paid by each spectator being donated to the Icaunaise section of the League against cancer. Here, the media were sent a beanie and a T-shirt. More down to earth and less glamorous to celebrate the man.
However, taking – not quite randomly – this reaction under the tweet that accompanied the announcement of the film’s release on Amazon Prime: “I am too young to have known Guy Roux as coach, but I know that he is one of the great men of French football” , we understand that it can serve as a gateway to the young generation wishing to work on its classics. Just for that, this umpteenth narration ofA history of France is totally justified, provided that it is not limited to it exclusively.
By Julien Duez