Author Archives: MarseilleUK

About MarseilleUK

Husband, father, music teacher, drummer, fan of Marseille, NUFC and Ligue1 follower.

ALLEZ L’OM! A visit to Olympique Marseille with Avalanche

Olympique de Marseille v Lorient

Velodrome

26th August 2016 20:45 Ligue 1
Stade Vélodrome, 3 Boulevard Michelet, 13008 Marseille, France

Last Christmas I was absolutely delighted to find some cheap flights from Lulsgate to Marseille, in that sweet spot at the end of the school summer holidays when the new football season has begun. The whole of France is En Vacance so there’s no risk of strikes and the mistral is down to a gentle breeze, almost making the 30 ° + heat fairly bearable. After a wet week in Wales last year, a family holiday in the South of France was something to look forward to, especially as I could probably factor in a trip to catch an Olympique de Marseille game. Yes some of my motivation for visiting this neck of the woods was OM driven, having been a fan from a far for many years.
Once the fixture list for the new season was finally revealed, I saw that we would see them lining up against Lorient from in the north-west France in Brittany. Purchasing tickets online from Bristol was a breeze – I selected a pair in the Tribune Jean Bouin (a French athlete from 100 years ago), clicked on the “Achter” button and then they were immediately mine to print out.

Jean Bouin

Fast forward several months to holiday time and disaster struck in the departure lounge. I realised that I had forgotten my tablet pre-loaded with loads of holiday reading material, so I panic bought some magazines which I will barely consume and a copy of Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to re-read.

We were to spend our first 24 hours dans la Ville de Marseille before heading out west, on a train along the beautiful Côte Bleue to our holiday resort near Martigues. In this time we could see how important the club is to the City, spotting the OM logo everywhere and specifically on a variety of the distinctive white and sky blue Adidas maillots (replica shirts) being proudly worn. In the tourist Information office I booked a stadium tour for the day after the game and I managed to leave a few well-chosen Bristol City stickers round the place before we left until our return at the weekend.

Cut to a few relaxing days later, leaving the girls by the pool, me and my Son are heading back into Marseille for our football adventure. Spotting our shirts, a young French lad, who was heading back up North with his family after a week off, was doing his best to engage my Son with a few football related questions, but my lad did his best to pretend he wasn’t there – probably for the best as it turned out they were heading back to Paris and he was P$G. Being a long time OM fan, I’d already schooled my son that the Parisien team are to be respected as much here as we do Bristol Rovers at home.

Gustave Ganay

On arrival back in Marseille we made our way to our Airbnb near the stadium, which was on the brilliantly named Boulevard Gustave Ganay. We were afforded a fine view of the magnificent new Velodrome from our room and it was complete with mosquito nets which amused Avalanche Jr after I explained what they were for. After a reasonably confusing but entertaining conversation in Franglais with the host we headed back into the centre of town for an ice cream on the Vieux Port.

Much to my dismay I discovered that the tres grande Mural of local boy Zinedine Zidane on the Corniche is no more. So we hit up the local Adidas store, which has a fantastic tribute by a local graffiti artist to Zizou in the stairwell. The merchandise was more expensive than ever due to the Brexit effect – €90+ for a shirt is a little beyond my willing, despite my sons pleading, so we left empty handed. Taking a stroll through Castelane, heading back towards the stadium I remind Joe that his namesake (his middle name is Zinedine – my Wife was caught unaware in the hours following his birth) heralds from this very area. Maybe he’s just taking it all in but he doesn’t seem that impressed.

Zidane

Supporters ShopOnce we made it back up to the Boulevard Michelet, the place was a little busier with OM shirts everywhere. We made a visit to the official club superstore, where my favourite piece of tat was a pair of 3D OM boxer shirts complete with glasses. No I didn’t understand the point either. I was tempted by a full size replica of the European Cup, but it close a few zeros more € than I had at my disposal. (Incidentally Marseille are the only French club ever to have won it – something fans like to remind those in Pari$ whenever possible.) We then headed over the road to the Ultras own shop (pictured above), at the foot of a massive block of flats opposite the stadium. This was a refreshing place after the clinical interior of the official, Adidas sponsored shop we had just escaped form – there was a great level and variety of stock, from t-shirts, scarves and badges  Some fantastic anti-P$G stuff was on display) and the whole organisation was impressive – it puts most official club so called “super shops” to shame.

Back outside, after I had strategically placed a BCFC Away Days sticker, we sat down for a Velo 2quick glass of Ricard at the amusingly titled “Le Fair Play pub”. Ricard is a type of Pastis, which is an aniseed flavoured aperitif, best consumed diluted with water, ice and hot weather. It’s incredibly popular in Marseille and everyone was at it – the beer drinking (La Cagole, a popular malty + fizzy local brew was my favourite) seems to happen after the game. A few locals were curious about our accents and once they found out we were English it was all about the local legend that is Chris Waddle. His name was the first two words anyone said to us when they discovered our origin. There was also talk of Joey Barton, who is a minor cult hero after his season long loan here a few years back.

Waddle

Refreshed, we had a few Kodak moments before making our way up the ginormous mass of steps to the foot of the stadium and made our way into the stadium through the Kiddies Haribo section – I presume this was to get the younger fans as suitably wired as the adults. A very smart looking lady (airline hostess standard) handed us a free program each and escorted us to our seats.

MLD

With 30 minutes to go before kick-off, the two Ultra groups at both ends were already in action and produced a constant wall of sound until the very end of the game. Their positive enthusiasm for the duration of the game was refreshing, despite the protests that were also happening, targeted at owner Margarita Louis-Dreyfus. MLDGO signs were everywhere (inside and outside) and the Virage Sud Ultras displayed a massive strongly worded, sign which spanned the whole width of the Velodrome. Fans seemed to be very unhappy about the owner’s lack of interest in their club. Days after, their wish was granted and she was selling the whole concern to an American investor. The game was poorly attended with the reported number being 26193, with many fans were staying away in protest. Despite this, the atmosphere was electric and after the teams walked out to Jump by Van Halen (which sounded better than you’d think) we didn’t know if we should be watching the game or the fans! My son was particular transfixed with the fat bloke stood on a purpose built platform, with his back to the pitch shouting instructions out through a megaphone.

The game itself went well, with OM recording their first win of the season with a 2-1 victory. The first goal came from a particularly impressive free kick from Cabella and Swansea loanee Gomis, who was an absolute joy to watch play.

It was a late night for both of us – French games typically kick of at 9pm, which I was thankful for it was still absolutely baking inside. Next morning, after a quick espresso and a pain au chocolate – we reported for duty at 09:30 for a stadium tour before catching a train from the Gare St Charles back to our holiday in Martiques. We did manage to get a few good photos of my son in his City shirt for hopeful inclusion in the programme once we got home – check the Leeds edition!
I did afford myself a quick glance back over the city from the fine vantage point that is on offer at the top of the steps in front of the station and said a quiet au revoir. Marseille is an amazing city whose inhabitants are a credit to it. And it’s easier to listen to the local’s lingo down here, as they speak a little slower! Everything you’ve heard is wrong and the Marseillais are friendly as Parasians are rude!

Fam

The author and his son!

by Avalanche (with a little help from his Editor ;o)

 

NB: This peace originally appeared in the Autumn 2016 edition, of Bristol City fanzine, The Bountyhunter (@BountyhunterBC)

 

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Le Meilleur Reste À Venir

“Le Meilleur Reste À Venir” the Marseille Twitter account proudly boasted before Christmas, trying to flog the half-season tickets, with the club resting a reasonably pretty 6th after a pretty pitying start.

In the league since the beginning of 2017, Rudi Garcia’s side have won three games against Montpellier, Guingamp, and Rennes. All teams, one would hope that Les Phocéens would harbour ambitions of comfortably finishing ahead of in the table.

However, against sides around OM’s stature, the story quickly changes. Four games this far against reasonably big sides, and all resulting in crushing defeats.

The latest against a Paris Saint Germain admittedly on-the-up following their recent defeat of Barcelona, but handed the game against a Marseille side that were more than happy to disclose all of their weaknesses against a record crowd at the Vélodrome.

65,252 turned up to the stunning venue to see their side technically, tactically, and mentally outfought and outplayed by a PSG that continued to capitalise on Garcia’s side’s continuing ineptitude in front of the prime-time cameras.

It seems that every time OM play on a Sunday night they completely bottle it. Including these last four games against Monaco (1-4), Lyon (1-3), Nantes (3-2), and the latest debacle against the Parisians, they haven’t won a Sunday evening game since Nantes on the 25th September 2016; while a second heavy defeat against Monaco (away 4-0) and a 3-2 loss to Nice early on has defined the season.

However, last night must have been the epitome of all that is wrong with OM as a team at the moment. In front of the crowd they froze, and as our delicate defence once again crumbled with the slightest bit of pressure, the Parisians knocked goals in for fun. This commentator fails to recall an entire set-piece in the course of the game that didn’t result in a chance for the visitors.

A total lack of communication in the back-line plus a dread of marking made OM look like a side that had never practiced a defensive set-piece in their lives; navy bodies queuing up at every opportunity to profit from Marseille’s ineptitude. OM have conceded more than two goals on eight occasions this season, including against the aforementioned Montpellier and Rennes; leaking over two goals a game since the new year.

Last night’s Marseille was the same OM we saw against Monaco, the same we saw against Lyon, and the same we saw in that midweek loss to Metz. Four atrocious performances in less than two months for Les Marseillies; and now, sitting seventh in the table, it seems like the best, for now, has well and truly passed.

 

Kevin Galvin

(@kjgalvin93)

Steve Mandanda: A Man Amongst Mice

Mandanda

What makes a good clubman?

Unending loyalty to the organisation and its fans? Exemplary performances to push the team forward? Being a guiding light when things go wrong? Remarkable leadership and an acceptance of personal responsibility? Or is it just doing the best job you possibly can on and off the pitch for your team?

Olympique de Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda ticks all of these boxes, and has been the backbone of an otherwise flaky OM organisation both on and off the pitch. The 30-year-old, contrary to popular belief, has only been at the club eight years, but in that time has become one of the most symbolic players in Marseille’s modern era.

The netminder arrived on loan from Le Harve in 2007 for €400,000, and profited from Cédric Carasso’s knee injury to play over 34 times for Les Phocéens both domestically and in European competition, and winning Ligue 1 Goalkeeper of the Year before making his move to the Vélodrome permanent for the miniscule sum of €2.5 million in the summer of 08.

To put that into perspective that’s the same amount that Arsenal paid last summer for two 16-year-olds, or what Galatasaray have paid for uncapped Dutch defensive-midfielder and former West Brom disappointment Ryan Donk.

The Zaire-born shot stopper has since won a Ligue 1 title, the Coupe de la Ligue title three times, and has been named Ligue 1 goalkeeper of the year also on three separate occasions. He has been capped over 20 times for the national team, and in 2010 was the natural choice to replace Mamadou Niang as captain of OM, despite only being at the club a few years.

Despite Marseille’s disappointing end to the season Mandanda was again named goalkeeper of the year, and became the club second most capped player after 391 games with the crest on his heart; and at the start of the season he passed the 400 mark, now with 415 games he stands just 40 games behind Roger Scotti as the all-time appearance record holder.

In those appearances Mandanda has seen the good and bad, and despite all of the difficulties the club has had the goalkeeper has remained, despite being linked to the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, AC Milan and Juventus during his time at the Vélodrome. With his contract now expiring the 30-year-old has been linked to several clubs, most notably Aston Villa, whom were chasing the French international fervently during the current winter transfer window.

Despite club chairman Vincent Labrune announcing that Mandanda would be staying, there continued to be much speculation, particularly given OM’s policy of farming players out as soon as the right money is offered (as evidenced by the appalling transfer dealings this summer). And after he single-handedly put OM through to the next round of the cup versus SC Caen (pulling off a number of top class saves to keep a clean-sheet before saving three of the four Caen penalties) eyes only grew wider for Villa, who find themselves struggling in the wrong part of the Premier League table with games now running out.

However, that was put to bed by Mandanda himself; never one to shy away from responsibility, the Marseille icon announced on facebook that he would not be leaving.

“Out of respect for the Marseille supporters, I’ve decided to break my silence concerning my future” he announced via his facebook page “My agent received offers from several clubs to leave this January…I’ve decided to stay at Marseille…One of the main reasons was my attachment to Marseille. I have responsibilities, I am the captain. My adventure with Marseille is not a simple one; it’s a story of how I built a part of my life here.”

For many players an announcement of such gravity would come as a shock, but for a man who has represented Marseille superlatively since his very first game the decision to openly admit his future comes as no great surprise.

It does come as some relief to Labrune however, who has sold the vast majority of his marquee players in the summer, seeing Marseille slump as low as 19th, and only sticking their head into the upper end of the table in the last few weeks. OM have been appalling at home, and their inability to score has been putting serious pressure on Mandanda and his less than firm defence. Off-the-field Mandanda has also been a leader, keeping the dressing room together after Marcelo Biesla deserted OM, and successor Michel has been under considerable criticism.

It’s been majorly down to the heroics of the 30-year-old that OM have managed to steer themselves away from the relegation places, and still somehow find themselves competing on every front. He has been putting in match-winning performances, and along with the brilliant Lassana Diarra, have been managing to make up for the uncountable amount of passengers Les Phocéens seem to be carrying in every game.

The question is, however, do Marseille deserve to keep him?

While there is no question about the fans’ support and devotion for him and team OM, serious questions continue to linger about the management of Marseille, and whether choices are really being made for the benefit of the club, and its players.

The goalkeeper’s refreshing honesty cannot be said to have spread to those behind the scenes at the Vélodrome, where secrecy and suspicion ostensibly run rife. Shady business dealings with criminals have been exposed in recent years, while the club’s selling policy have meant that Marseille have captured just a single league title in the last 15 years, and far from being the European superpower they were (and arguably should still be), OM have now become a selling club to not only those more powerful on the continent, but in l’hexagon itself.

Mandanda himself has had a disappointing career at international level, and with first-choice goalkeeper Hugo Lloris having already left Ligue 1 to shine on the global stage of the Premier League, the temptation must be hugely strong for Mandanda to follow suit and do the same, ahead of a huge year with France hosting this year’s European Championships.

However, like he always does, Steve Mandanda has once again put the team’s fortunes ahead of his own, and stuck around for what will almost certainly be an extremely difficult second-half of the season. With his contract set to expire this summer OM fans will be waiting with baited breath to see if they can hold on to their lynchpin for another season, if not Marseille will not only have lost an instrumental player, but a man amongst mice at the Vélodrome.

Kevin Galvin

(@shefellover93)

 

Marseille v Nice – 8/11/15 – Match Preview

OM OGCN

OM go in search of their 4th victory in a row, something not achieved since May earlier this year. But hard fought victories over Lille, Nantes and Braga have given OM a push as they look to claw their way back up the table towards the European spots, currently 7 points off the 3rd Champion’s League place.

Michel will be exceptionally happy with 2 clean sheets from the 3 previous games, but the results have been quite tight and Nice have managed 26 goals this season, second only to psg, and 8 more than OM have mustered, though Nice have conceded 4 more than OM.

Away from home Nice have travelled well picking up 11 points from a possible 18, only suffering 1 defeat, surprisingly at the hands of Gazelec Ajaccio in week 11.

Michel has a rather depleted squad for this game with Cabella, Diarra and Nkoulou all suspended for the game, while Alessandrini and Dja Djedje miss out through injury and Diary is still not ready to play. The full squad is made up of: Mandanda, Pelé, De Ceglie, Manquillo, Mendy, Rekik, Rolando, Sparagna, Barrada, Isla, Lopez, Romao, Sarr, Silva, Zambo-Anguissa, Batshuayi, Nkoudou, Ocampos.

Likely starting 11:

Mandanda

Manquillo, Rolando, Rekik, Mendy

Silva, Romao

Nkoudou, Barrada, Ocampos

Batshuayi

Attacking-wise, OM should fair ok with Nkoudou and Ocampos getting some recent game time and performing well against Braga mid-week, however the big question will be how OM cope with former talisman Ben Arfa and Germain, who have netted 11 goals between them so far this seaosn. With Nkoulou and Diarra absent there is a gaping hole through the centre of the team. Silva and Romao will be expected to protect the centre back pairing of Rolando and Rekik, pushing any Nice attacks out wide for Manquillo and Mendy to deal with.

Likely starting 11 for Nice:

Hassen

Pied, Bodmer, Merchand, Pereira

Koziello, Mendy, Seri

Mallmann

Ben Arfa, Germain

With only 2 places and 3 points separating these 2 teams, it is likely that Sunday afternoon’s game will be a tight affair, but with many attacking opportunities for both teams. Expect an end-to-end game, that should hope to be entertaining to the neutral. (Disclaimer – bet on 0-0 borefest now!)

Marseille v Lorient – 28/10/15 – Preview

After the international break, it feels hard to be up for the next game, against Lorient. Look back and we haven’t won in 5 games, are on the back of 3 straight defeats, 1 at the hands of Angers and one at the hands of Slovan Liberec, and another at the hands of that team from the capital. Add to that the punishment of stand closures from the Lyon game, which is still fresh in the memory, the threat of whole stadium closure and fine for this and you’ll excuse me if I’m not chomping at the bit for a Sunday lunch-time visit of Lorient (who last time we played them caned us 5-3 and ex-OM enigma Jordan Ayew bagged a brace and played out of his skin).

But then, I think back to that game in the capital. Another set of questionable decisions screwing us over, but actually that’s all that the performance had in common to previous years. On the pitch we had a squad, no a team, who actually performed to a level near their capabilities, gone was the usual OM squad who turned up and were blinded by the bright (spot) lights, disturbed by the glittery fireworks and blown away by the draft from all the plastic plastic-flag-waving supporters. Just like the OM fans, their team went out and just didn’t give a shit.

More of the same on Sunday would be nice to see from Michel’s team thank you. Play like that and 16th in the Ligue should soon become a distant memory, despite games against Lille, Nantes, ASSE and Monaco coming up. Perform like that and we should overcome the difficult trips to Braga and Liberec in the Europa League and should comfortably qualify for the next round. Perform like that and the OM faithful will be back on side no problem, as it would appear that Barrada, Cabella and Alessandrini are up to the task of filling big empty spaces from last year.

Michel has almost a full squad available with only Barrada missing from the usual first 11 team. Andonian and Isla also miss out.

Full squad: Mandanda, Pelé, Manquillo, Nkoulou, Mendy, Rekik, Rolando, Sparagna, De Ceglie, Dja Djédjé, Silva, Diarra, Cabella, Sarr, Romao, Zambo Anguissa, Ocampos, Alessandrini, Nkoudou, Batshuayi.

Expected starting 11:

Mandanda

Manquillo, Nkoulou, Reki, Mendy

Diarra, Silva

Alessandrini, Cabella, Ocampos

Batshuayi

Lorient head to the partially closed Velodrome having only suffered 1 defeat in their last 5, picking up a win on the road at Monaco and home victories over Angers, Caen and Bordeaux.

They sit 6 points above us in 9th after a solid start to the season, despite losing some key players over the summer.

Expected starting 11:

Lecomte

Paye, Kone, Toure, Goff

Jouffre, Ndong, Bellugou, Guerreiro

Waris, Moukandjo

5 Things Learned From Le Classique

So despite Marseille’s best efforts two penalties undid their good work and PSG extend their lead to the top by 5 points, the result means yet another win for the Parisiens, and Marseille are now just four points from the relegation zone.

But what else did we actually learn from the latest edition of France’s biggest derby? Kevin Galvin investigates.

1. Marseille still have fight

Les Phocéens came out of the block chomping at the bit last night, and had a number of good chances as they stunned Paris Saint-Germain for the opening 20 minutes. Alessandrini was getting the better of Aurier, Thiago Motta was kept quiet by Lucas Silva, and as Michy Batshuayi’s goal was more than deserved when it came.

After the disappointment before the half OM hung in, and even more satisfyingly for Michel won themselves a penalty; while the ultimate result was a loss for Marseille the signs are far more positive than following their insipid displays against Angers and Slovan Liberec during the week.

However, Michel’s side are still just four points ahead of the relegation zone, and will need to take full points from their next four games against Lorient, Lille, Nantes and Nice to bolster their position before facing Saint Étienne away on November 21st.

2. PSG can win dirty

It wasn’t a vintage performance by PSG by any means, but the Parisians crucially got the three points against a Marseille side who arguably played their best football of the season at the Parc de princes.

Laurent Blanc’s side showed their resolve; they came from behind to beat Nantes 4-1 last week, and despite not dominating in the way that they did last week in Stade de la Beaujoire, PSG earned another crucial three points in their bid to win the title for a third season in a row, and have dropped only four points from their first nine games.

3. PSG’s new signings can do it in the big games

Apart from the two penalties, Zlatan Ibrahimovic did very little in last night’s game, having an unusually small impact in a Classique encounter. However, that was compensated by the two fantastic performances of their big summer signings, Angel Di Maria, and Kevin Trapp.

Di Maria was at the centre of everything good for the hosts, and absolutely roasted Paolo De Ceglie down the right hand flank, often linking up with Aurier and Maxwell, and having a big impact on both PSG penalties. The Argentinean scored last year, and is already proving a handful for French defences, Blanc will hope that the former Real Madrid and Manchester United star can do the same in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages.

Kevin Trapp meanwhile was PSG’s biggest hero of the night, saving the penalty that would have given Marseille a point, and with moments remaining in the game the German positioned himself perfectly to save from Cabella when it seemed certain that the visitors would be leaving with a point. In all Trapp had five saves, and was voted man of the match.

4. Pressing is they key in Paris

One of the keys to Marseille’s early success was their energy and pressing of the PSG midfield. On numerous occasions Le Phocéens earned themselves golden chances by closing down Thiago Motta in particular, winning the ball back, and countering with intent.

In the first half Motta was inches away from conceding a penalty after handballing Romain Alessandrini’s cross, while in the second such a break led to Abdelaziz Barrada being taken down by Serge Aurier for Marseille’s penalty, which, if converted, could have certainly earned a point for OM.

5. Laurent Blanc’s rivalling José Mourinho for entertainment value

Laurent Blanc is always worth a listen to in a post-match interview; honest, frank, insightful, the PSG manager was once again in top form last night, honestly admitting that the best team didn’t necessarily win, and that Marseille could feel very hard done by.

However, the quote of the night came when Canal + reporter Olivier Tallaron asked the former French international if he saw that Rihanna was in the stand to support his team.

“No, I think she’s looking for you though” he said before walking off camera. Microphone. Drop.

Cabella – a gamble not paying off

It’s 2:45pm local time and the eerie silence has just been severed by the piercing sounds of whistles on the South coast of France. With two sides closed off by the LFP, and the other two half-empty, le Vel’ has barely looked sadder in its 80 year history.

The whistles in the stands follow that of the match’s referee, Mikael Lesage, who has just signalled the end of Olympique Marseille’s latest disappointment in Ligue 1. The Phoceéns, who have lost the core of their side, their manager, their Ultras, and their fourth game in eight, now find themselves in 14th position after one of their worst ever starts in the top division.

It’s been a pretty tough 10 days for all those involved at the club, in a season full off disappointments so far; poor results against Toulouse and now Angers followed a 1-1 draw against Lyon, in a game that’s antics did more to damage the club than the point gained could ever repay.

More worrying however for the Phocéens, were the limp and insipid displays that followed on the pitch against Toulouse, and then on Sunday against newly promoted Angers. Fingers have been pointed squarely at Vincent Labrune, and rather unfairly in my opinion at Michel, come in to right a listing ship, but in truth much of the blame must lie with the players themselves.

Take the case of Remy Cabella; the 25 year-old had already won a Ligue 1 title with Montpellier, and signed a six-year deal with Newcastle United in 2014 and was expected to do great things on Tyneside. However, in reality the midfielder was largely disappointing, and with only one goal and two assists in 31 appearances, the Toon were only delighted to ship him back out on loan, and welcome Florian Thauvin, a far more consistent performer.

Cabella’s was Marseille’s biggest signing in the summer (Unless you count sicknote Abou Diaby from Arsenal), and it was hoped the French international would at least partly make up for the losses of Dimitri Payet, and the aforementioned Thauvin; yet nothing could have been further from the truth.

Cabella has done virtually nothing positive to contribute since he’s arrived in Marseille; six games, zero assists, zero goals. As a matter of fact, the only number to his name has been the two yellow cards he’s picked up, and the consistent low scores he’s been receiving on his player ratings. Conversely, the Corsican native has contributed directly to Marseille’s last two disappointing results, missing a sitter against Toulouse on Wednesday, and committing a criminal foul for Angers’ penalty on Sunday.

Angevian left-back Arnold Bouka Moutou’s run down the flank was threatening, but Manquillo had come across the cover, and with the visiting defender facing away from goal it seemed like the situation had been contained. That was, until, Rémy arrived, scything through the back of Moutou and changing the game. Having dominated the early exchanges and out-shooting their opponents 5-1, OM were now a goal behind and chasing the game in the second-half.

Cabella himself admitted his own poor form after the game in Toulouse, and perhaps his rashness in Sunday’s game was an over-zealous attempt to put things right; however as a now seasoned professional that expected level of maturity has been badly lacking thus far. It also must be said that the Gazélec Ajaccio youngster isn’t the only expected leader on the pitch who has failed to show the way.

Going through the squad; N’Koulou, De Ceglie, Dja Djé Djé, all players on Sunday who you’d expect to galvanise the side following the penalty, and all players who where nowhere to be found as Olympique’s lack of  backbone was plain to see. Romain Alessandini was watching from the stands, still suspended after a needless sending off for a brainless tackle on super-villian Valbuena the week before. Lucas Ocampos summed it up in the final moments; caught in possession dawdling with four team-mates unmarked in the area, the chorus of whistles were frankly merited.

It comes as no great surprise, however, as Marseille try to deal with the gutting of their side in the off-season, and though it’s still early, Michel will almost certainly have to target the next transfer window to make up for the trail of destruction left behind by Marcelo Biesla’s departure. Key players in key positions have not been adequately replaced, and the new players are trying to stamp their authority under extreme pressure, as the older heads, Steve Mandanda to name one, try to hold everything together.

Will things get better for Les Phocéens? Possibly. But with a trip to Paris on Sunday to face a supremely confident PSG, things are very likely get a whole lot worse beforehand.