League Cup : Marseille triumphs, what now?

Will OM stop at this?

Marseille no longer lives in the past. Having been unable to win anything since their glorious victory in the 1993 Champion’s League, they put an end to this title drought by taking the League Cup in a very impressive fashion. This trophy caps off one of Marseille’s best seasons since they’ve made it back to Ligue 1.

The club’s consistency has been a key to their success this season. Many OM supporters will remember the frustrating year when the team seemed to change every year, new players being brought in and the team never retaining its core. The club seemed to privilege flashy names and the favorite sport was to fire coaches after a few bad games.

In my humble opinion, the hiring of Eric Gerets last year was the game changer. The Belgian coach managed to instill a winning mentality within the club and gave confidence to lots of players. Even if his departure was a surprise, especially since he went to Saudi Arabia for nothing else than some fat petrodollars, the club managed to remain stable and didn’t make too big of a deal of his departure. They decided to recruit Didier Deschamps to replace Gerets, a decision that can’t be disputed as of today. Of course his tactical choices are sometimes questionable, of course he’s made a few weird decisions, and of course Morientes. But the positive outweighs the negative here : Marseille has broken the curse (a very relative curse, though) and Deschamps has his fair share of glory to bask in. The example that, for me, speaks tons on how the club has finally “grown up”, is how the transition between Pape Diouf and Jean-Claude Dassier has been handled this summer. The former’s dismissal had all the appearances of a scandal, with underlying tones of racism. The board took over and decided that Diouf was no longer the man of the situation. Diouf, the first black president of a European club, left with an understandable sense of bitterness and didn’t deprive himself from criticizing the people who had worked at firing him. This looked like OM as usual : fishy business, that always has repercussions on the field. But somehow players managed to stay free from this noxious environment, and credit has to be given to Deschamps for keeping the players focused on the task at hand. A couple months after the events, the incident was forgotten, the new president had settled in despite some controversy and Robert Louis-Dreyfus’ death had been put behind. The players’ only goal was to honor RLD’s memory, and he wasn’t forgotten in anyone’s mind in the after-match speeches on Saturday.

This season, Marseille has looked like a new club, more mature, less prone to exterior influences and to the foolishness and incompetence of the directing board. Of course everything has not been perfect, as the club crumbled, as usual, in the round of 16 of the UEFA Cup/Europa League. But the club has shown a new face on Saturday : aggressive, efficient and voluntary. The team effort was impeccable and the resurgence of Hatem Ben Arfa make this team hard to beat and the question needs to be asked : can Marseille aim for more?

Their victory against Lyon last Sunday puts Marseille back into the title race. They have two games in hand, both of them against Sochaux, and if they win those two and if Bordeaux wins their game, there will be a tie up top, and it’s not a stretch to say that Marseille would have the competitive edge between the two teams. The victory yesterday gives Marseille a psychological advantage ; and Bordeaux is bound to lose some forces in the Champions League. Can Marseille take advantage of this and run away with the Ligue 1 title while Lyon and Bordeaux fight it out for the pretty eyes of Michel Platini and Marseille has only L1 to focus on?

In any case, this is very good news for Marseille supporters who will be happy to see that some kind of stability has been instilled to club. Can this stability be carried on into next season? The recent events seem to indicate that this is finally a possibility for OM. Now, some will say that Coupe de la Ligue is not that big of a deal, which is not totally false. But victory calls for victory, and as a Lyon supporter, it is something I’ve witnessed. Lyon, who hadn’t won a title since 1976,  won Coupe de la Ligue in 2001, a trophy that opened the victory flood gates for Lyon who won their first L1 title a year afterwards. The symbol will be interesting for Marseille, who can only hope for a Lyon type of comeback in French soccer.

Do you think that Marseille can start an era of domination? And can Bordeaux lose it all this season? I’m waiting for your comment here.

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8 Responses

  1. didn’t marseille win an intertoto cup sometime during the post 93 era?

  2. Lyon won one in late 90s, I don’t count that as a legit trophy, especially since there were actually 3 clubs to win Intertoto every year, from what I recall.

  3. […] 1 Talk asks a good question – Marseille Triumphs, what now?  France Football and Four Four Two asked the players and OM’s managment the same […]

  4. Good question – will this win make us even more hungry for success or will this win leave us satisfied (and therefore complacent) for the rest of the season.

    I hope its the former rather than the latter (obviously). And, honestly, I believe that I’m deluding myself when I say that. I think the won has demonstrated to the team what is possible if they can put aside the bullshit and play well together- and the league title is within our grasp. In addition to this momentum- we seem to have several players peaking at the same time and people are coming from injuries…all the signs indicate an (even more) positive end to Marseille’s season…

    And I agree with Martin- the Intertoto Cup does not count…

  5. No I don’t think they will win the league but I expect them to finish no lower than 3rd.

  6. Sportboy: and who do you think will come out on top? Montpellier stumbled this past weekend and Bordeaux and OM both have a game in hand to play…but FCGB are struggling..

  7. Sorry, the message above was from me- forgot to fill out the form

  8. Well, to Sarah and Martin (in regards to our podcast), I just have to say this:

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