Photo Credit: Olympique de Marseille by Marxel Kizza
Olympique de Marseille, France’s only club with a UEFA champions league trophy seems a distant cry from the “OM champions project” its owner and president frank McCourt and Jacques – Henri Eyraud respectively promised its fans when the club was purchased in late 2016.
3 years into the project and the club’s only boastful achievement is a 2018 UEFA Europa League runners-up. The previous season is one to forget as by January, OM was out of all competitions and only had the league to fight for as and as a fan, the best way to expose the incompetence at the club was PSG not winning any of the domestic cups, though that is how we found ourselves with no European football.
Of course with the way last season panned out, there were decisions to pay and heads to roll as Rudi Garcia was sacked. The appointment of former Chelsea, FC Porto boss Andre Villas-Boas was one met with skepticism amongst Marseillais as his football style isn’t one which is attacking based per se but as a fan, all I care about are results and not the playing style. The skepticism originates from him being from the “Mourinho school of thought”. Due to FFP restrictions, Marseille’s transfer activity has been limited and it is evident people at the club have failed to grasp the fact that they are no longer the European powerhouse they were under Bernard Tapie in the late 1980s.
Some of OM’s summer activity is baffling, to say the least. (Well hasn’t this been the same story under Eyraud’s administration). So baffling to imagine that this is a club that had a chance to pay less for Marcus Thuram than what they bought argentine Dario Benedetto who hadn’t played at any European club. Last season ended when the club’s targets for purchases were quite clear; a goalkeeper, defender, and striker but the most elusive wasn’t worked, on-the goalkeeper. The sale that hurt most was the sale of Luiz Gustavo to Fenerbahce. Luiz Gustavo was so pivotal to dictating OM’s play and also breaking opposition’s play.
My hope is at least Serbian international Nemanja Radonjic comes into his rhythm in the absence of Florian Thauvin who is out with an ankle injury until the winter break. Thauvin is OM’s source of breaking down opposition’s tight defense. Though not to dwell only on the negatives, a glimmer of hope has been the improvement on the way the team defends as a unit. This could help us so much in improving our dismal performances against big teams, something that has plagued the club since the turn of the decade, this is where I give AVB credit so far. Seen how Mandanda is rejuvenated!
By Marxel Kizza.