The departures of Gignac, Ayew, and Payet
To see what OM lost in these transfers, one must only briefly see how these players are performing today. One finished with an MVP and league title in Mexico. The other two are two of the more prolific midfielders in the Premier League, both being involved in at least 7 goals each (goals + assists). Despite their quality, OM only received 15 million Euros in return, due to Gignac and Ayew leaving on free transfers. This scenario saw OM lose its best players and fail to be compensated for it. It set a precedent of belt-tightening by the club for this season, as OM had failed to qualify for Champions League. Looking at the season, these players have been replaced by Batshuayi, Nkoudou, and Cabella. Not bad replacements, but obviously a step down in quality for the team.
One of Gignac’s best goals at OM, against Ajaccio.
The Resignation of Bielsa
Without a doubt, the defining moment of this season. Exasperated only by the fact that it happened right after the first game of the season. The fiery coach that became the face of a revolution at the club, gone at the most crucial moment. After a previous season of goals, 3-3-3-1 formations, high pressing, and above all spectacular play, OM found itself without a captain for its ship. Despite only being at the club for a season, the season with Bielsa at the helm will remain for me the most exciting season as an OM fan.
Photo courtesy of @VieilleGardeCU84 on Twitter.
OM 6-0 Troyes
The first game under Michel’s leadership. After a terrible start to the season, OM’s offense exploded for one of the biggest wins in recent memory, witnessing not only a bicycle goal from Ocampos, but a spectacular shot from Diarra. This game confirmed that Diarra was going to be the player of the season, but was also misleading. Despite this showing, OM’s offense has failed to reproduce the venom shown during this game, and the team remains in 10th place in the table.
Diarra’s goal against Troyes.
SAINTE-ÉTIENNE 0-2 OM
OM went into a tough environment and finally pulled out a strong victory. After weeks of poor results, OM showed resilience and teamwork. Batshuayi continued his scoring run, confirming himself as one of the best strikers in the league. The biggest highlight was Nkoudou scoring another goal, establishing his place in the lineup as well as why he is one of the most promising players in Ligue 1 at 21 years of age. Mandanda was the man of the match, providing a number of key saves.
Batshuayi goal against ASSE, assisted by Nkoudou.
OM 3-3 Monaco
A game of drama worthy of last season. This game was huge for both teams, as at the time either winner could come within 2 points of a Champions League spot. The game started quickly, with Alessandrini scoring in the first 15 minutes. However, Monaco responded quickly, tying and then taking the lead. OM eventually fought back to tie the game at 2-2, only for Monaco to score again. In the 82nd minute, OM tied the game at 3-3 with a goal from Nkoudou. Once again, OM shows spirit and efficiency, but only after being down a goal. OM proved it has the ability to compete with top teams, but lacks defensive solidity to finish the job.
Nkoudou goal in the 82nd minute against ASM to tie the game at 3-3.
Let us hope the next half of the season brings better defensive play and more consistency up top. Allez l’OM !