PARIS (AFP) - Fallen giants Nantes appointed their third coach of the season this week as they face the possible humiliation of dropping into the footballing abyss of the French third division.
Once a dominant force in French football, the Canaries boast a glittering trophy cabinet that includes three domestic cup wins and eight league titles, the last being 2001.
They went on a spectacular European run in 1996, progressing to the semi-finals of the Champions League before going out to eventual winners Juventus.
Their famed youth system also produced some of France's footballing greats: former Manchester United goalkeeper Fabien Barthez; PSG and ex-Chelsea star Claude Makelele; current Marseille manager Didier Deschamps, once of Juventus, and former Real Madrid midfielder Christian Karembeu.
Nantes now sit in 14th place in French football's second-tier after a disastrous season that has seen them win just eight games, draw seven and lose 10 to leave the club hovering just five points above the relegation zone.
Chairman Waldemar Kita sacked coach Jean-Michel Furlan last week after just 10 weeks in charge, replacing him with former assistant manager Baptiste Gentili.
But he moved to dispel expectations of the glory days making a quick return to La Beaujoire Stadium.
"There are a lot of people, I don't know if it makes them happy, who see the club going down to the National," Gentili told AFP, referring to France's third and lowest professional league.
"We have to avoid that and then we will see. I'm here to make this team win football matches. That's the first objective."
Gentili takes over the reins after Furlan and former Bordeaux defender Gernot Rohr failed to meet Kita's expectations.
The 52-year-old ex-Martigues coach said he would not have taken the job if he thought the Polish-born businessman would meddle with team affairs.
"On that level, there is no problem. I'm not someone who can be taken for a ride," Gentili said.
"With all chairmen, there is an exchange of views. It is for me to convince everyone that we should take a certain course of action."
"I'm going to try and reach the levels they expect of me. What's important right now is to get down to business."
Kita is currently in hospital suffering from an inflammed pancreas and has temporarily handed over control to his 27-year-old son Francky.
The self-made millionaire has come under fire from Canaries fans amid reports of interference in team selection and an array from financial problems, including a ballooning wage bill. Nantes currently has 38 first-team professionals on its books.
Even players have rounded on those in charge for their handling of the eight-times French champions with defender Jean-Jacques Pierre launching an attack in the columns of a local newspaper earlier this month.
"When we asked who would be the new trainer, the directors didn't even reply.
"These guys have no word of honour. In the five seasons that I have been with the club, I can't even recognise five or six of our players," the 29-year-old Haitian said.
Gentili will embark on the club's long journey back to the top flight from this Saturday when Nantes face newly-promoted Nimes, currently fifth in Ligue 2.
|Klinsmann: Copa America better than Euros|
|Messi: Joining Barcelona not an easy decision|
|Carrico receives four-game ban for homophobic slur|
|Dani Alves wants Atletico to win Champions League|
|McNair out to impress ´world-class´ Mourinho|
|Ranieri: Premier League survival is Leicester´s priority next season|
|Argentina forward Lavezzi suffers hamstring scare|
|Koeman talks ´very positive´, say Southampton|
|Rami replaces injured Varane in France´s Euro 2016 squad|
|Matthaus applauds Gotze for rejecting ´easy solution´ of Liverpool|
|Suarez silenced his doubters - De Boer|
|AFC Champions League Review: Jeonbuk, Shanghai SIPG progress|
|Klopp can take Liverpool right to the top, says McAllister|
|Lindelof happy at Benfica amid Real Madrid, Barcelona links|
|Zidane is perfect on and off the pitch - Lippi|
|Bale: Zidane has brought the best out of Real Madrid|
|Favre takes over as Puel and Nice part ways|
|Liverpool complete Karius deal|
|Van Gaal was treated poorly by United, but Mourinho will be a success - De Boer|
|Dani Alves: I have won more titles than Pele|
|I know who I´m taking - Conte sure on Euro 2016 selection|
|Xavi backs Guardiola to ´change the face of English football´|
|Lucescu appointed Zenit boss|
|Manchester United and Liverpool hit with €40,000 fines|
|Weinzierl: I have nothing to lose at Schalke|
|Rangers complete Barton signing|
|Italy better placed as underdogs ahead of Euro´s - Motta|
|Cantona: I love Mourinho, but he is not Manchester United|
|Ben Arfa wants Lyon move - Aulas|
|David Silva praises Iniesta´s Copa del Rey heroics|
|´It was a little scare´ - Ronaldo plays down injury fears|
|Eder the real deal for Lille|
|Van Gaal treated unfairly during Manchester United spell - Daley Blind|
|Ginola doing ´very well´ after heart surgery|
|Depay rules out Manchester United exit following Van Gaal departure|
|Hojbjerg confirms desire to leave Bayern|
|Ronaldo leaves Madrid training early after knock|
|Abbiati unimpressed with Milan players´ attitude|
|Pepe calls on Madrid to continue making history|
|Ayestaran signs two-year deal with Valencia|
|Montolivo, Antonelli sign new AC Milan contracts|
|Ronaldo ready for UCL final after being rested from practice match|
|Hummels, Sanches deals will not stop Bayern spending - Rummenigge|
|Oblak´s penalty heroics, Griezmann´s Barcelona brace - Atletico Madrid´s route to the Champions Leag|
|Salvio all but confirms Gaitan will join Atletico Madrid|
|Motta warns PSG over Ronaldo, Neymar interest|
|Europa League Mourinho´s best hope for United trophy - Sheringham|
|Injustice if Iniesta never wins a Ballon d´Or - Del Bosque|
|Van Gaal didn´t deserve United sacking - Blind|
|I´ll be happy if we make Euro 2016 semi-finals - Del Bosque|
|Koke: Why would I want to leave Atletico?|
|Fofana could retire aged 25 - Lyon president|
|Sandro set to leave Barcelona|
|Silva plays down injury worries ahead of Euro 2016|
|United would be brave to appoint Mourinho, says Schmeichel|
|Neymar adamant he is happy at Barcelona|
|Wilshere: Arsenal play me out of position|
|Ryan backs former coach Neville|
|Keane talks up Galaxy move for Ronaldo|
|´Free agent´ Diarra wants Mourinho reunion|
|Eintracht Frankfurt beat Nuremberg to secure Bundesliga status|
|Manchester United to turn to Mourinho, the man who most resembles Ferguson|
|Manchester United kids are Van Gaal´s legacy - Ferdinand|
|´Sex-masochism´, ´fat man´ and ´Mr Mike Smalling´ - Van Gaal´s best quotes as Manchester United mana|
|I have fulfilled a long-held ambition - ´Very disappointed´ Van Gaal´s statement in full|
|Van Gaal should call time on career after Manchester United sacking|
|Better than Busby? - The stats behind Van Gaal´s United exit|
|Van Gaal sacked by Manchester United|
|Suarez expected to miss Copa America group stage|
|Herrera wants more trophies with Manchester United|
|FIFA sacks deputy secretary general Kattner|
|Asensio wants to fight for his chance at Real Madrid|
|SFA to investigate Rangers-Hibernian disorder|
|Van der Wiel takes aim at Blanc after PSG exit|
|Halilovic: Missing Euro 2016 would not be a tragedy|
|Van Gaal leaves United training ground as Mourinho speculation goes on|
|Zanetti rules out Inter move for Simeone|
|Rodgers adamant Celtic is not a step down|
|Sanches chose Bayern Munich over Manchester United|
|Rosicky was the perfect player for Arsenal - Wenger|
|Tonelli becomes Napoli´s first close-season signing|
|Thigh injury rules Steffen out of Euro 2016|
|Gotze is a perfect fit for Liverpool - Hitzfeld|
|Hummels completes Bayern move after passing medical|
|Guardiola era has been sensational - Neuer|
|Bayern will never sign a Messi or Ronaldo - Hitzfeld|
|Wilkins backs Mourinho appointment|
|Suarez´s Copa America hopes alive despite hamstring injury|
|Delneri exits Verona following relegation|
|Ireland´s Wilson ruled out of Euro 2016|
|Gotze looking forward to new season with Bayern|
|Pirlo, Giovinco out of Italy Euro 2016 squad|
|Coleman signs new Wales contract|
|Gotze talk intensifies as Bayern Munich forward leaves agent|
|Rami called up by France following Varane injury|
|United States v Ecuador: Klinsmann pins hopes on Yedlin as Copa preparations continue|
|Gabriel, Lucas Lima unsure on Santos futures|
|AC Milan to terminate Mihajlovic deal in June|
|Emery confirms Banega will leave Sevilla|
|Neville still unsure over Valencia future|
|Van Gaal arrives at United training ground amid Mourinho talk|
|Messi: We suffered but we won together|
|Evra confirms two-year Juventus deal|
|Son unfazed by Tottenham exit rumours|
|Argentine footballer dead after being struck in head|
|Arnautovic refuses to commit to Stoke|
|Sirigu: PSG wanted me out|
|MLS Review: Galaxy held by Earthquakes, Timbers end skid|
|Alba: Messi deserves credit for my goal|
|Pique: Barca deserved Copa del Rey title|
|Smalling admits relief after Lingard winner|
|Suarez, Barca unsure on extent of injury|
|Luis Enrique revels in Barca´s spectacular end to season|
|Emery proud in Copa del Rey defeat|
|Rooney hopes FA Cup lifts United - with or without Van Gaal|
|Iniesta: Copa del Rey win caps magnificent season|
|Barcelona 2 Sevilla 0 (AET): Alba and Neymar decide heated Copa del Rey final|