yeah i hope so to, i really do!
In goal, personally I think we have improved without really doing anything. The only change that has been made was replacing Yohann Pele with BRICE SAMBA. Pele was an older, more experienced goalkeeper, but with Pele still in the squad we had three goalkeepers over 30. Now with Samba in the squad we have a young goalkeeper that if we allow him to develop right could become a top quality goalkeeper for this club for the foreseeable future. STEVE MANDANDA is obviously a quality goalkeeper, but I said in my end of season review that he was error prone last season and this season he has started by making basic errors again so it is frustrating and Samba has been given more opportunities than I thought he would get. As for NICOLAS DOUCHEZ he is retiring at the end of the season, so hopefully we can have a successful year in his final campaign as a player, he has served us well since he signed, and I am sure he will do so again this season, if called upon.
We do have a good set of goalkeepers here, and I am happy with the selection I have available, even if their rating is lower. However Steve Mandanda was error prone last season and has started the season in relatively similar form. His competitor for the number 1 spot is Brice Samba so if Mandanda continues to make errors, Samba could find himself in the spotlight despite a poor rating at the minute. But he will come good.
Quite a bit of change at full back this season, but that was understandable since Javi Manquillo and Paolo De Ceglie have returned to their parent clubs. In place of Manquillo, BRUNO PERES has been signed to compete with BRICE DJA DJEDJE for a place in the first team. In his first initial appearances at the club, Peres has been impressive making some good runs down the right and supporting the right winger in the XI well, and with any luck that will continue. As for Dja Djedje, he will hopefully be as impressive for us this season as he was last year, and he has started the season as first choice and if he avoids a horrifying injury like he suffered last year, he will have another impressive year. At left back then FRANCK TABANOU has been bought in after a horrid season at Swansea last year, and has so far impressed when he’s been given the chance, supporting the left winger and contributing well to the teams forward passages as well as being solid defensively. BENJAMIN MENDY will continue to develop into a fine left back and if he can work on the poor indiscipline he has then he will be a great player for us this season.
A definite improvement on last season in terms of rating and although Javi Manquillo was a fantastic player for us, I think having Bruno Peres here could be the improvement we need and give us the options that could form a vital part of our defence for quite a few years. At left back, we have added a definite improvement on Paolo De Ceglie by bringing Franck Tabanou in, and although the Italian was impressive when he played for us last season, hopefully Tabanou will be challenging for a first team spot more than De Ceglie was last season. Benjamin Mendy needs to improve on his indiscipline if he is really going to stop Tabanou from becoming first choice.
In central defence, two additions have been made as well as DENNIS APPIAH starting his first full season at the Stade Velodrome. He was that impressive for Caen and for Marseille last season that he earned a call up to the France squad that went to the European Championships, so ie he continue in that run of form then he will have a very solid season. However he hasn’t started the season in the best of form but a player of his quality will pick it up again. LOIC PERRIN had a stable if not fantastic debut season for us last season but again he will hopefully have settled a bit more here now so he will again be very important for us this season. KARIM REKIK is a player that was very solid alongside Perrin last season, and although he isn’t as highly rated as he was this time last season, he will still play a lot of football this season I think and form a big part of our defence this year. FLORENTIN POGBA is another good player that had a solid season at Saint-Etienne last season, and when he’s played for us so far this season, again he’s looked impressive and looked like he could well be a good back up for us in Ligue 1 this season. Finally in ADIL RAMI we should have a solid defender with a lot of top class experience at the likes of AC Milan, Valencia and Lille and he could be a vital boost for us, especially as he looks like a much needed improvement on Rolando who left in the summer.
A personal target for this club is to have a better defensive record this year and we have improved on the central defensive options we have at this club. Florentin Pogba and Loic Perrin have good chemistry having worked together at Saint-Etienne. When you add Adil Rami into the equation, a player of great experience, we can definitely achieve a better defensive record and hopefully those three can play some good stuff in the centre of our defence. In Dennis Appiah we have a quality player that can play all across the back line and he will be a vital player for us, even if his early season form hasn’t replicated his form from last year. Finally, hopefully Karim Rekik will continue to develop into a fine player and become a crucial part of the squad.
Like last season, the defensive midfielders in our squad need to have an extremely important season for this club. ALAIXYS ROMAO was very good when he played last year and has started this season in a similar fashion and is a player capable of reaching the highest quality for us, even if his rating isn’t as good as the players around him. LASSANA DIARRA is a fantastic player that will continue to be as important for us this year as he was last and if he reaches those levels again then we will be very solid in midfield. The new signing TIEMOUE BAKAYOKO is definitely one to watch and with any luck he will develop into a very good player this year, and not just a good one. He has all the attributes to become a very good player in defensive midfield, but maybe just needs a lot of first team football to achieve his potential, as he hasn’t had this at his previous club Monaco, meaning he’s not had a season where he was really in contention for the first team since he was at Stade Rennais.
We might not be as good in defensive midfield as we were last season after the loss of Lucas Silva to Real Madrid but Tiemoue Bakayoko could be the addition we need to replace him, even if it just takes a little bit of time. Lassana Diarra definitely needs to have another very good season for us, and although he is getting older, I can see his importance to this squad ever increasing. Alaixys Romao’s rating has decreased and I could see this being his last season for this team but he is still a player who I trust and call upon when needed because he always does a solid job for us.
Just one new addition in the centre midfield spots. JONAS MARTIN has come in, and looks a very good player and he is playing well when he’s been called upon and is starting to push for a guaranteed starting XI spot. He comes very highly rated from Montpellier and I have been really happy with how he has settled into the squad. However in ABOU DIABY, although he has been injured for most of the season so far, we have a central midfielder that Jonas Martin may struggle to oust from the squad, although depending on how long Diaby takes to return to match fitness. ABDELAZIZ BARRADA is a player that has adapted really well to a central midfield role despite favouring playing in the number 10 role, and if he reproduces the form he was in last season then he will be a massively important player for us this season. MARIO LEMINA spent last season on loan at Juventus, but didn’t get much playing time, which was fortunate for us. He was a player that as soon as I came into the job at the Stade Velodrome, I wanted to be able to use but couldn’t because he was at Juventus. He did have a release clause in his loan contract which we were praying that they didn’t activate and they didn’t so now we have a quality player at the club who has been very impressive when he has played for us so far this season.
We are in a much better position than we were last season in my opinion, concerning our central midfielders. Keeping hold of Diaby and Barrada was much needed because they were great for us last year and hopefully they’ll repeat that form for us this season. Mario Lemina staying at the club is right up there with bringing Jonas Martin into the squad as they are two very solid players that could well play a crucial role in us having any success this season, and the Gabonese international being in the squad will be like having a new signing in the squad.
Signing the best player in Ligue last season in REMY CABELLA on a permanent deal was vital. It was extremely important that we completed the deal after he had such an amazing season for the club last season, and he started the season in flying form proving he’s going to just as important a player this season as he was last. ROMAIN ALESSANDRINI perhaps didn’t play as much as he normally would have last season because of the fantastic form that Cabella and Lucas Ocampos found themselves in last season, but he has started the season in flying form and will, like last year, be just as important this season, especially if he keeps this form going. As for LUCAS OCAMPOS, he has barely featured so far this season after being away on international duty at the Olympics, but when he returns if he hits the same heights as he did last season, he will have another fantastic season and be such a crucial player for this club. GEORGES-KEVIN NKOUDOU is a player that we need to be aiming to grant more first team football to because he is a player with a very high potential rating and we would like him to achieve that. However for him to get more first team football he has to compete with Alessandrini and Ocampos on the left because they are fantastic players, but when given the chance I feel confident he will take it. JUAN MANUEL ITURBE has looked a fantastic addition so far, burning past defenders and looking extremely confident. There are of course flaws in his game but if we can work on removing them, then we will have one hell of a good player on our books this season.
Just like last season we are exceptional with the quality of wide men that we have at the club. If Remy Cabella and Lucas Ocampos can produce the form we know they are capable of, like they did last season then even without using any other players I am certain we would have a fantastic season. When you add into the context that we have more brilliant players like Juan Iturbe and Romain Alessandrini into the mix then we will definitely have another good season because all four players listed above are capable of changing a game and taking this Marseille side to the next level. Georges-Kevin Nkoudou is going to be a very good player, and I am trying to give him as much football as possible despite the quality we have that at the minute are above him in the selection process.
In front of goal, I think we are a lot better and a lot better well stocked than we were this time last season. MICHY BATSHUAYI is still at the club and despite a strong season last season there wasn’t much interest in him which was fantastic for us, we just need to hope that he keeps performing to a high level without a desire to move to a bigger club developing. EMMANUEL ADEBAYOR is a more than good enough deputy for him and has had a good start to the season when he’s been asked to play so far, and hopefully, in what will be his last season at the club he can have a good season where his stats better reflect his ability. MAURO ZARATE is still injured and hopefully he will can return from such a devastating injury to a very good run of form. He has got goals in him and he will need to add these to have any chance of being a regular in our starting XI this season. JEREMIE PORSAN-CLEMENTE may well be looking at getting some time out on loan after January as a player of his potential deserves to get more game time than I fear he will at this club this season because of the way we are going to be playing.
Our forwards were important for us last season and they will definitely be this season. Adebayor is capable of scoring goals as is Mauro Zarate when he finally returns from his injury, and personally I cannot wait to be able to give Zarate the chance to play in front of his home fans again. I would also love to give Jeremie Porsan-Clemente an increasing role in the first team, but the way the team is shaped at the minute, his favoured role isn’t used, and there isn’t much point in using a youngster not capable of playing in our selected role, when we have players like Adebayor and Batshuayi capable of playing well in that role. Michy Batshuayi is definitely capable of becoming even more of a force this year and he can play as well as we know he can then in front of goal we won’t have any problems at all this year.
Overall Squad Rating:
An improvement overall on last season. We are much better stocked in the areas we were short in last season, and we have made some very impressive signings and most of them are starting to play some good football with the club. Despite this, the main concerns from the end of season review are still present. Steve Mandanda has made a few errors so far this year which is extremely frustrating and if they continue his place in the Starting XI is very much at risk. Our central defenders need to be at their very best this year because it was often them that let us down in defence this year. Going forward there are no real chinks in the armour anymore as we have players that excel in their positions unlike last year, where we were asking players like Marvin Martin to play in an unsuited position. However if the players that really performed for us last season, can perform in a similar manner this year, then we are going to have a very successful year this season.