This article is going to be a bit of a long one. OM is currently spiraling and in need of a big push. The fans are mounting the pressure as poor decision-making by the club directors is starting to make a big negative impact. Read more to see where OM currently stands and what changes can be made to turn the season and club around.
Messages such as “Labrune, get out!!” and “OM does not play to avoid relegation” seen on the walls of the OM headquarters, a few months ago. Photo courtesy of ouest-france.fr
The temperature in Marseille is reaching boiling levels. The team’s poor run of form at home reached a new low Sunday, against Guingamp. The writing is now on the wall. Despite still being qualified for Europa Ligue, Coupe de France, and Coupe de la Ligue, OM has not been convincing in any of the tournaments. OM finished second in the group in Europa Ligue behind Braga, requiring a last-minute victory against Liberec to qualify. In Coupe de France, OM needed penalties to defeat Caen in a back-and-forth game. In Coupe de la Ligue, OM escaped with a 3-2 win against Ligue 2 side, Bourg-en-Bresse. None of these were convincing qualifications.
Ligue 1 is where the side can truly be assessed. It is the one competition OM has played every week, without resting starters or traveling very far. OM currently sits at 11th place, with 26 points and +7 goal difference (most of the goal difference coming from 6-0 win against Troyes). OM is currently 8 points behind 2nd-place Angers, but 6 points fom 18th place Toulouse. Closer to relegation than Champions League, OM risks a string of losses pushing them towards Ligue 2.
The team lacks talent, determination, and cohesion. Looking at the team, there is plenty of blame to go around. The downsizing and blatant mismanagement of the team by MLD (the owner) is arguably the main reason for the club’s problems. MLD’s right-hand man, club President Vincent Labrune, has failed to institute a successful system, relying on loans and free transfers to fill up the roster. Despite the lack of funds, Labrune’s choices are still not helping. Michel, coming into a team right as the season starts, has also failed in his task. The team shows no effectiveness or desire, months after he took over. He has made several questionable substitutions during games, as well as first-team decisions. His links to Doyen Sport have certainly led to a lot of distrust from fans, as well.
OM is down, but not out. What must change to turn this season around? Photo courtesy of om.net
This is where OM stands, so where do we go from here?
CHANGES IN MANAGEMENT
At this point, there are very few options. Marguerita must sell the team if she is not going to invest. As owner, it is her money to spend, so I understand if she does not want to lose any more money. However, sitting on the club and refusing to spend on it helps no one. Her handling of the Bielsa fiasco was extremely telling, where she undercut even Labrune to (in my opinion) try and corner Bielsa into changing his contract. She inherited the team after her husband’s death, which does give her some extra time as it was not her choice. Also, if there are no suitable buyers, then what can she do? Recent moves, such as retaining ticket rights from supporter clubs and downsizing, indicate that she is headed in the selling direction.
One move would be to fire Vincent Labrune. The man has performed poorly since the beginning. It is true that he doesn’t have much money to work with, which makes his job even harder. However, as he was part of the effort to push Pape Diouf out of the club, I have no sympathy. He got the position he wanted, and reaping the products of his work. Bringing in a different president who has extensive soccer experience and can work in a tight budget, could help stem the bleeding in the team. However, a candidate will be tough to find. There are people within the Ligue 1 circle, or even within the club’s administration, who could do better than Labrune.
CHANGES IN THE TEAM/COACH
Michel has failed, so far. However, it seems likely he will stay the entire season, so let’s see what he can do with the team to find solutions. His decisions to consistently play Ocampos and Barrada have not worked. Ocampos has made some incredibly poor decisions with the ball, choosing to dribble or shoot when he should pass. When he does make the right decision, he has missed easy chances or wasted opportunities with poor technique. This is inexcusable from an offensive midfielder bought for 7 million. Barrada often seems too slow to make a positive impact, though he does work hard.
I think Michel needs to start playing Bouna Sarr more. The player is quick, technical, and works extremely hard. If he is given the chances Ocampos has, I have no doubt he will produce goals and improve the team. Once Cabella returns, the attacking midfield would be more balanced with Nkoudou-Cabella-Sarr. Michel’s decision to play minots like Zambo and Rabillard last Sunday are also good moves. If the top men won’t get it done, send a strong message by looking to youngsters for a spark. Who knows, maybe a player like Lopez, Zambo, or Boutobba will grow into a fine player? We can only know if they are given a chance.
Merci, et Allez l’OM !
Touching tribute to the late Christine Vallette, loved member of Les Ultras, during the EAG game. Photo courtesy of om.net