Tag Archives: Newcastle United

News Update – 31/12/12

First of all could I just take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year. A huge thank you to anyone who has visited, linked, contributed, liked, followed, re-tweeted this site or the MarseilleUK twitter or Facebook accounts.

Ins and Outs –

As the rumour mill goes into overdrive around Europe, Marseille already seem to be sorting out their transfer business, keeping a low profile, and keeping costs low, despite recent proclamations that the clubs finances are sound.

3 players linked with moves into the club are Foued Kadir, Brice Samba and Denis Petric (although as the move for Samba has gained pace, a move for another goalkeeper, Petric, would seem to be unlikely). Although it had been reported earlier in the month that Ricardo Quaresma was on his way to Marseille, that move looks to have stalled over the Portuguese internationals’ wage demands.

Some possible moves away from OM are rumoured to be Nkoulou who has interested Manchester City, Florian Raspentino with a loan move Brest suggested, and the on going saga surrounding Loic Remy and the host of English clubs tracking him including Newcastle United and Stephane Mbia’s QPR.

The deal that looks imminent is that of Foued Kadir, for a mere €500,000. Kadir currently plays for Valenciennes and has played a major part in their surprising push up the ligue this season. The Algerian has contributed 6 goals and 4 assists from his 11 starts so far. He will provide good cover for Andre Ayew outside of the ACoN, and hopefully provide Amalfitano with some competition to up his game too.

Brice Samba is an 18 year old goalkeeper currently playing for Le Havre. This transfer would appear to show the club seeing Samba as a long-term replacement for Mandanda, allowing Samba an opportunity to learn and progress under him whilst also spelling the end for Bracigliano (who is rumoured to have interested Gazelec d’Ajaccio).

Marseille managed to keep hold of Nkoulou last summer, and despite some shaky performances of late, there is no doubt that Nkoulou is the most consistent defender OM possess. As is the case for most teams nowadays though, if enough money is offered the club are likely to ‘reluctantly’ accept a substantial offer. Hopes are high that Marseille have already been scouting central defenders as it may only be a matter of time before Nkoulou heads to pastures new.

Another deal which I don’t want to see is that which would involve summer signing Raspentino heading to Stade Brest on loan. Despite the excellent position OM currently sit in and the positives that Baup has implemented I am personally disappointed with the lack of opportunity for Raspentino. In a season where Amalfitano has been a little off the pace, someone like Raspentino should surely have been given more than 10 minutes cameo roles in the ligue.

The final possible deal is that involving Loic Remy. Newcastle would seem to be the likely destination for Remy, as it appears that they are about to lose Demba Ba. I would like OM to keep Remy, as if nothing else, without him competition for strikers is left purely between Gignac and Jordan Ayew. Positives from this transfer may be that an NUFC players comes in the opposite direction, suggested players being Gabriel Obertan or Sylvain Marvaux. However, given the signing of Kadir who plays in a similar position, and the fact that both Obertan and Marvaux have featured more prominently in Alan Pardew’s plans recently, it wouldn’t appear that a player deal would make that much sense for either team.

Allez l’OM

Is Remy Looking North?

Loic Remy

Almost as soon as the summer transfer window shut, talk has been about who would be moving where in January. One of the many talked about transfers has been about  Demba Ba leaving Newcastle, the  £7m release clause, the worst kept secret in football and apparent discussions, revelations, or ‘come get me pleas’ depending on how you wish to sensationalise a story, with the French media leading many to assume Arsenal may be his club come January.

To replace the half-season superhero Ba, Newcastle, amongst other Premier League teams have been linked with our very own French international striker, Loic Remy. Ignoring the financial issues in such a transfer and turning a blind eye to any suggested player swaps, possibly Gabriel Obertan or Sylvain Marveaux, let’s look at what Marseille would be losing and what Newcastle, or any other team, would gain.

Loic Remy is a striker who began his professional career at Lyon. During the 2007-2008 season, he was loaned out to RC Lens where he managed to net 3 times in 10 games. This brought about a permanent move to Nice where an increase in first team action saw him net 11 times in his first season and 16 times in his second. Remy joined les phocéens at the beginning of the 2010-2011 season, for around £15m where he went on to net a career best 17 times, including 2 in the Champions League. Last season Remy confirmed his place amongst Ligue 1’s best strikers as he found the back of the net 22 times demonstrating a solid consistency.

Unfortunately for Remy his start to this season has saw him struggle with injuries, form and most importantly the confidence that he has demonstrated in the past. Since the summer Remy has only managed 90 minutes in 3 games, making mainly late substitute appearances on returns from niggling injuries.

Loic Remy2

Supposing Remy manages to shake off these injuries, builds up some confidence and starts finding the goal again, how will he do it? Without a doubt, one of Remy’s major strengths is his aerial power. Despite being just over 6 foot, not the tallest of players, Remy has a very good sense of positioning, and when he has a well-established partnership with someone who can cross, he will outmuscle defenders to get a header on goal. This is demonstrated well through his goal against PSG last season, where a deep cross from Azpilicueta was forced home by Remy (Remy PSG goal). At present Newcastle don’t play with wingers who tend to ‘get to the byline, crossing in from tight angles for strikers, so a player like Remy may suit the deep crosses from Davide Santon, Vernon Anita or the dreamboat Cabaye, when he is fit again.

Although he doesn’t possess the most explosive pace, Remy is good at hanging on to the back of defenders or pulling them out of position, allowing other strikers to exploit the space (something Cisse excelled in last season). He often drifts out to the left and if he received the ball he has been known to dribble, cut in and unleash some excellent shots. Again, this could provide its benefits for Newcastle. If Pardew is playing without Santon on the left, Ferguson and Gutierrez often look to offload the ball quickly, usually towards the middle of the pitch or backwards. Remy’s natural drift to the left would give a third stage to attacks down the left, whereby Remy could take the ball on himself or hold up play passing inside further up the field in a more dangerous position allowing the midfield to attack opposition defence 20-25 yards from the goal instead of the current 30+ yards away. (Remy shots and hanging on the last man)

Although they don’t play in exactly the same manner, there are a number of similarities between Demba Ba and Loic Remy. The Mike Ashley mantra of younger, better, cheaper (or buy risky as some people see it), could pay off. Remy, younger? Yes by just over a year. Cheaper? One can only imagine that Remy would not command the same wages as Demba Ba, and I think we can all safely assume he won’t have a £7m buy-out clause in his contract if he were to sign! Better? Hmm. Remy certainly has the ability and potential to make it in most premier league teams, and providing he adapts to the English game quicker than the last infamous French striker NUFC had on their books (Stephane Guivarc’h) he’ll go some way to getting the fans on his side, Remy’s much publicised praising of ‘great fans and a nice full stadium’ already warming Geordie hearts. Ba already boasts an impressive scoring record for last season and is well on his way to improving it this season, so if Remy is bought in as a direct replacement I’d say, better? No. If, however, he can be used to bring Cisse back into his sensational form from the end of last season then he could definitely make up a more productive partnership with Cisse than Ba currently does, thus providing the team with a more productive strike force pairing.

Allez l’OM and Howez NUFC!

Swanny (MarseilleUK)

Bordeaux v Marseille – Match Preview

Sun 18/11/12 – 20:00 (UK – Live on ESPN)

Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux

Ref. – Lionel Jaffredo

Background –

With 3 minutes remaining against Mediterranean neighbours OGC Nice it looked like Marseille had banished their recent slump in form, when ex-OM man Abriel equalised and the game finished 2-2. Elie Baup directed veiled criticism at the team, citing a lack in concentration the reseason for the defeat and explaining that this was something he thought the team had managed to overcome. As he returns to his successful old stomping ground, Baup will have to make sure that there are no lapses in concentration or Bordeaux will punish les phocéens.

Marseille –

Along with the recent devastation of losing Andre-Pierre Gingac through injury, Loic Remy limped off against Nice after only 20 minutes. Ordinarily this would not be helpful for any team, but factor in the continued suspension of Joey Barton, Jordan Ayew’s ban and Amalfitano’s 2 match ban for his ridiculous bust-up with psg’s Matuidi and it is evident that the OM team really are down to the bare bones. Although the return of ex-Bordeaux man Diawara will be some comfort to Baup, he’s not likely to weigh-in with the kind of goals that APG, Remy, Ayew or Amalfitano can produce. An injury to Bracigliano has also prevented the back up ‘keeper from travelling with the squad.

Full team news to follow.

Who are they? –

Without a doubt one of the most (sursprisingly) consistent teams in Ligue 1 this calendar year have been Bordeaux. A 17 match unbeaten run was only recently halted by Newcastle United in the Europa League, and since then they have faltered only once, a 3-1 reverse at Bastia, and have consequently risen to within 2 points of the Ligue 1 summit. With no investment over the summer months and a number of squad players leaving, there are many similarities between how Bordeaux and Marseille prepared for the season.

The work-ethic of this Bordeaux team is one of their strong points, often seeming to swarm at the opposition when not in possession, and they can attack as a unit with frightening pace. 65% of goals for Bordeaux have come in the second half, this will need to be a time when Marseille are particularly focussed in order to avoid another Nice repeat.

The key player in whatever Bordeaux do is Polish international Ludovic Obraniak. The versatile midfielder has already netted 4 times this season and provided 3 assists. Given time Obraniak will hold onto the ball before setting through accurate passes for Jussie or Gouffran. Close him down and he can turn, dribble or pass his way out of trouble. Possibly the best way to combat Obraniak’s effectiveness will be to crowd the centre of midfield, forcing him out wide  and therefore limiting his central passing opportunities. This will require the cooperation and team work of both central midfielders and the two players playing down either flank, of course whilst doing this they can’t afford to forget about the players they ought to be marking too.

Summary –

Marseille’s last ligue victory at Bordeaux came in 1978, and on paper, despite OM’s high placing, it is difficult to imagine anything but that abysmal run continuing. With Marseille, however, anything is possible. Take the recent away win at Ajaccio for example. A nortoriously difficult place to visit and Marseille had a poor record there, but Baup set the team up to dominate the midfield and the players played with determinism and discipline that resulted in a comfortable 2-0 victory. NUFC, played much the same way against Bordeaux in the Europa League, pushing high up the pitch and leaving a huge gulf between the Bordeaux midfield and attack that led to few chances for the strikers. In the current context this may be OM’s most difficult game of the season and a draw would be seen as a good result.

Predicted score: Bordeaux 2v1 Marseille   

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Bordeaux 2.20

Draw 3.10

Marseille 3.50

 

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

 

Other Ligue 1 Fixtures

Lorient 2v0 Lille

psg v Rennes

Brest v Bastia

Valenciennes v Montpellier

Evian v Saint-Etienne

Ajaccio v Sochaux

Troyes v Nancy

Lyon v Reims

Nice v Toulouse

Barton to Marseille?

With the French transfer window not due to close until midnight on 4th September, there will be plenty of rumours circulating in the next week, but none may be as unexpected as the announcement that Joey Barton, looking for a fresh start, is expected to join Marseille.

Having been ‘on’, with Barton himself announcing through his twitter account that his ‘heart was at the Velodrome’, the deal was then ‘off’ as he was forced back into training with the reserves at QPR, part of his on-going punishment for misdemeanours at the end of last season. Then early yesterday Barton tweeted a photo of himself travelling to Marseille to visit the club and the deal was back ‘on’. He is expected to complete the second part of his medical and formalise the contract negotiations today.

The suggestion of Barton joining Marseille appears to have split the opinion of les phoceéns as well as fans of French football, with a number of blog posts and articles already being published on the matter. Well here is my own take.

As many of you might know, I support Marseille, however, my first team is actually Newcastle United. I live in Newcastle and am a long time season ticket holder too. So I have actually had the pleasure, and pain, of supporting a team that Joey Barton has played for. I’ve seen the good, the bad, the ugly and the damn right fantastic side to Barton.

Barton’s time at Newcastle, like his time at other clubs, was mixed. After a solid first season he missed most of Newcastle’s infamous relegation season, returning at the end only to get sent-off at Anfield. This led to an apparent bust up with then manager Alan Shearer and it looked like Barton would be on his way out of toon. However, as the club appeared to be spectacularly imploding, Barton stayed. After a 6-1 defeat in a friendly at the hands of Leyton Orient, the NUFC players held a crisis-meeting. Barton and Kevin Nolan were apparently the main orchestrators in this, whereby the players discussed who wanted to stay and who wanted to go, who had ‘the balls’ to stick around with a club in the Championship and fight to get a team with no manager and seemingly no long-term stability back into the Premiership. Barton stayed, and along with the others who did, they managed to drag Newcastle back up.

Barton enjoyed his most successful season with Newcastle in the 2010-2011 season, when NUFC were back in the Premiership. On the pitch he struck up a wonderful partnership with Andy Carroll, providing 9 assists and 5 goals for the team. Barton was also seen as one of the key players in the emphatic 4-4 draw with Arsenal. Barton drew in the Arsenal players with a robust challenge, Diaby got sent off in the melee, Barton scored 2 penalties and also took the free-kick that led to Cheik Tiote’s incredible equaliser. The 2nd 45 minutes in this game were perhaps Barton’s finest in a Newcastle shirt.

In those 45 minutes he didn’t cry off and hide, like other players had before Newcastle’s Championship season. Barton came out ready for a fight and ready to give it his all. Barton showed his intelligence, as just when the Newcastle players needed a lift, Barton put in a heavy tackle on Diaby, this resulted in the crowd going wild and everyone got behind their player and team and the atmosphere was ignited, forgetting that their team was 4-0 down. This type of thing is often seen in ice-hockey, where a player will deliberately put in a heavy challenge, perhaps starting a fight, as a means of giving the players and fans a lift. During the fracas though, Barton didn’t start swinging punches or go head-to-head with players, he calmly watched as those around him lost their heads, and were duly punished. After this Barton coolly dispatched 2 penalties, before providing an excellent set-piece free-kick that led to Tiote’s equaliser.

These 45 minutes live long in my memory, not just because I was there, not just because one of my best mates left at half-time and missed one of the greatest come backs ever. But because the game had everything: skill, flair, passion, drama, guts and is a prominent reminder of why I love football. Joey Barton is entirely and perhaps solely accountable for this. I have no doubt that if Barton was not on the pitch that day, that result would never have happened. The Newcastle team lacked anyone else that could step-up and fight in quite the same way that Joey Barton can and did. Those 45 minutes were not the only good 45 minutes that Barton had for NUFC, far from it, but they encapsulate perfectly what he can offer to Marseille.

If Joey Barton can bring this mentality, skill, quality and passion to the south of France, he will succeed and the fans will love him for it. If Barton can maintain the psychology he held throughout the 2010-2011 season he has the potential to be a hero for OM. The Marseille midfield needs someone with this obvious fight and spirit. Marseille’s set-pieces have been nothing short of bland and uninspiring, and are regularly poorly delivered, Barton can change that. He would also be able to allow the defensive unit to practice against set-pieces in training, something they never appear to have done with the amount of chances they give away each game!

My hopes are that the move will happen. As I’ve said, I’ve had the privilege to see the positives that a (mentally and physically) fit Joey Barton can bring to a whole club, not just a squad. In France Barton might enjoy fairer treatment on and off the pitch too. Through my potentially biased eyes, Barton was subject to giving away so many fouls and cards, simply because he was Joey Barton. Other players would put in worse tackles and not be reprimanded, other teams would also target Barton, putting in poor challenges and fouls in an inexplicably obvious attempt to make Barton ‘lose it’ and this would go unpunished. In France, my hope is he can escape this, and escape the media circus of the British press who are all too keen to drag up every misdemeanour at every opportunity.

A fresh start in the north of England helped Barton turn his career around temporarily. Perhaps a fresh start in the south of France could help him do it permanently.

I do hope so. Joey, welcome to Marseille.

Allez l’OM

Swanny

(@MarseilleUK & Andrew_Js3)