Lyon was the opposite case – their solid team of the first half of the 1970s inevitably aged, key players were retiring one after another, but the club missed the right moment for rebuilding and was hit hard as a result. A new team was practically started in 1977 and the jump-start was rather lame.
The third club to drop significantly down was Saint Etienne. Surprisingly, they finished 7th. Not a factor in the championship, although the team still won 18 of their 38 fixtures. They lost 14,though. A crisis? It was inevitable – the great squad of Robert Herbin was old as a squad. Same players for years, hardly going to become stronger if the future, very familiar to every other club in France, may be tired. Herbin made small, well thought changes, but the team reached its peak in 1975 and it was time for radical change. The problem was classical – individually, the players were old, save for a few, they were well tuned to each other, there was no reason to touch a winning team with reserves, who had played for France. No reason, as long as they were winning... but they were not winning, the signal was clear, and it was just a matter of coach's vision and bravery.
Three clubs went the opposite direction – Strasbourg, Monaco, and Bastia. Ascending fast. Which one was the most surprising is difficult to distinguish. The first two no long ago played in the second division. Bastia was no stranger to second level football and when playing in first division was unimpressive squad, living dangerously near the relegation zone. But they made the biggest French transfer in the summer of 1977, getting one of the top world stars Johnny Rep from Spanish Valencia. His impact was immediately felt as if the not-so bad team was spurred.