Monthly Archives: May 2015

Europa League & Internationals

Europa League

Europa League Consequences

Having finished 4th in the ligue, OM will qualify for the Europa League having missed out on Champions League football by 2 points. But all is not confirmed yet, OM need psg to beat Auxerre in the Coupe de France on Saturday in order to qualify directly for the group stages. If Auxerre were to beat psg, thus denying them a domestic treble, OM would have to play 2 preliminary rounds in July and August in order to qualify for the group stage.

Important dates:

Preliminary Round 1, Game 1: 30th July

Preliminary Round 1, Game 2: 6th August

Ligue 1, Game 1: 7th August* (OM play 9th August)

Preliminary Round 2, Game 1: 20th August

Ligue 1, Game 3: 21st August* (OM play 23rd August)

Preliminary Round 2, Game 2: 27th August

Ligue 1, Game 4: 28th August* (OM play 30th August)

Europa League Group Game 1: 17th September

Ligue 1, Game 6: 18th September*( OM play 20th September)

Europa League Group Game 2: 1st October

Ligue 1, Game 9: 2nd October* (OM play 4th October)

Europa League Group Game 3: 22nd October

Ligue 1, Game 11: 23rd October* (OM play 25th October)

Europa League Group Game 4: 5th November

Ligue 1, Game 13: 6th November* (OM play 8th November)

Europa League Group Game 5: 26th November

Ligue 1, Game 15: 27th November* (OM play 29th November)

Europa League Group Game 6: 10th December

Ligue 1, Game 18: 11th December* (OM play 13th December)

**(Ligue 1 game dates in brackets are the Sunday’s that OM would play if still in Europa League)

Summer Hasn’t Started For OM Internationals

A number of OM’s stars and fringe players are participating in post-season tournaments.

Wed 27th May

Stephane Sparagna – France 3-1 USA – Toulon Tournament

Fri 29th May

Stephane Sparagna – Qatar v France – Toulon Tournament

Sat 30th May

Bill Tuiloma – New Zealand v Ukraine – U20 World Cup

Mon 1st June

Alef Dos Santos – Brazil v Nigeria – U20 World Cup

Tue 2nd June

Staphane Sparagna – France v Costa Rica – Toulon Tournament

Bill Tuiloma – New Zealand v USA – U20 World Cup

Thur 4th June

Alef Dos Santos – Brazil v Hungary – U20 World Cup

Stephane Sparagna – France v Netherlands – Toulon Tournamet

Fri 5th June

Bill Tuiloma – New Zealand v Burma – U20 World Cup

Sat 6th June

Nicolas Nkoulou – Cameroon v Burkina Faso – Friendly

Sunday 7th June

Steve Mandanda & Dimitri Payet – France v Belgium – Friendly

Alayxis Romao – Ghana v Togo  – Friendly

Alef Dos Santos – Brazil v North Korea – U20 World Cup

Tue 9th June

Nicola Nkoulou – Cameroon v DR Congo – Friendly

Thur 11th June

Bejamin Mendy & Baptiste Aloe – France U21 v South Korea U21 – Friendly

Sat 13th June

Steve Mandanda & Dimitri Payet – Albania v France – Friendly

Alexander Ndoumbou – Gabon v Ivory Coast – CAN 2017 Qualifier

Gael Andonian – Armenia v Portugal – Euro 2016 Qualifying Round Group 1

Sun 14th June

Nicolas Nkoulou – Cameroon v Mauritania – CAN 2017 Qualifier

Tue 16th June

Benjamin Mendy & Baptiste Aloe – France U21 v Paraguay U21 – Friendly

5th Isn’t a Failure and Why Bielsa Must Stay

Bielsa No Se Va

As OM were crowned autumn Champions, all looked rosy in the south of France. After a nervy start to the season, Bielsa had his side playing exciting football and most importantly were winning. But post-half-season-championship, things took a dive for Marseille, performances and form dipped, Gignac’s goals dried up, injuries left the squad looking rather thin and before long we were being touted as a side who would be lucky to reach the 5th place needed for Europa league qualification (or didn’t even deserve it in some eyes!). Given the last few results and performances though, thankfully, Marseille will be back in Europe again next season and personally I hope it’s the Europa league.

Now that statement may be a little controversial, given most people’s dislike of the format and duration of the Europa league, compared to the glamour and more importantly the money that the Champions League brings with it, however, I think it would be the right step up for OM. Let’s not forget this season we’ve had no European football after last seasons disastrous campaign resulting in a 6th placed finish. Also, during that season we had the humiliation of a Champions League campaign that amassed a grand total of 0 points from the group stage’s 6 games.

This summer Marseille are set to lose at least 2 consistent stars of the past few years, Gignac and Ayew. Add to that the possibility of NKoulou, Mandanda, Thauvin, Imbula and Payet and our small experienced senior squad is seriously diminished. Marseille are not in the financial situation to bring in players anywhere near the calibre of those listed above. It would be incredibly difficult for OM to succeed without considerable investment in all positions and as usual it sounds as though MLD and Labrune just don’t have that sort of money, particularly given that no money will come in through losing Ayew and Gignac.

Regardless of where we finish, it would seem as though the coach must partially re-build the squad. I want that coach to be Bielsa. He knows his current players strengths and (some of their weaknesses) and should have a clear picture of which players OM need to maintain a campaign on 4 fronts for a full season next season. A lot was made of Bielsa’s ‘list’ from last summer, reportedly none of the players OM brought in were from that list, something to which Bielsa made clear he was frustrated with. If Bielsa stays, he must be allowed to build his squad.

This seasons failings can’t all be pinned on Bielsa, given the lack of opportunity to build his own squad, he has done phenomenally well with a squad that was appealing last season, not just in ligue position but in performance. There have been times in the previous 2 season under Baup and Anigo that I have despised watching OM. The flaccid, bore-fests I have tried to endure to give updates and write previous and reports on are not what I signed up for. I found myself disliking OM, following them had become a chore that on-top of family, work and gigs felt very much like a one-sided relationship, I was giving all and getting nothing in return.

The French Football Weekly podcast have had many interesting discussions about OM and Bielsa this season and one in particular I really agreed with some of the points made recently. One of the gang (apologies as I can’t remember who or exactly how the question was worded) offered the question ‘would OM fans settle for 3rd/4th/5th playing the type of football under Bielsa, rather than a more boring style and pushing for 2nd?’ Well as an NUFC fan who was a season ticket holder back in the Keegan ‘entertainer’ days, I’d take Bielsa any day of the week. Realistically, OM are not going to win the ligue any time soon, a cup perhaps, maybe even a good Europa League run, but as much as I am loathe to admit it, psg managed to invest huge amounts of money before FFP and are now in a position to dominate domestic French football for the foreseeable future. So we might as well enjoy the football and entertainment that I guy like Bielsa can provide.

I could be biased given how bad OM were for the last 2 years, but I want to be entertained by my football team. I want to see the players try for the fans, for themselves, for each other and for the coach, and anyone who witnessed the goals against Metz, Lille and the late winner against Monaco can see that OM have that in abundance under Bielsa.

Bielsa Gignac Metz

Whatever happens tonight I can say I have enjoyed the season overall. Yes there’s been some negatives and we may always think ‘what if’ (we drew instead of loosing some games between Christmas and Easer, didn’t have all of the terrible conspiracy-theory inducing refereeing decisions against us, never started Doria, inexplicably sold Mendes and continually played Thauvin etc etc etc), but regardless:

Thank you Marcelo Bielsa and Marseille for making me love the club again.