Ligue 1: OM grinds (again) black against Lens and sinks into the crisis
A few weeks ago, this late match of the 9th day of Ligue 1 between Marseille and Lens was perceived as a godsend in the Olympian clan. A golden opportunity to come back to the top of the rankings, and even, why not, take the lead. Obviously on the evening of January 20, the vertigo is immense. This new defeat against Lens (0-1) on a goal from Banza (59th), after the two conceded against Nîmes (1-2) and PSG during the Champions Trophy (1-2), definitely lift the veil on the current level of OM. Without inspiration, without any spirit of revolt, the teammates of Steve mandanda literally sank. To the point of seeing the qualifying places for the next Champions League move further away.
Statistics that illustrate a big unease
Sometimes the statistics say more than a thousand words. In the first period, Marseille only struck once on goal. This is, neither more nor less, his lowest total in the first 45 minutes of a Ligue 1 game at home since Opta analyzed the competition (2006/07). One more ? OM have conceded at least one goal in their last 12 matches played at the Vélodrome in the league, their worst streak in the top flight since January-September 2005 (13).
Tensions between players and leaders, incendiary banners … the crisis is brewing
The most teasing minds will say that records are meant to be broken, both positively and negatively. But the context is even more worrying. The humiliation – experienced as such in the Olympian clan – against the red lantern of Ligue 1 on Saturday January 16 caused a stir in the Canebière. A stormy meeting between the leaders and the players shook the walls of the Commandery. And this climate of crisis has spread to the supporters, who have been claiming for several weeks the head of the president of the club, Jacques-Henri Eyraud.
This Wednesday, the banners displayed in the bays of the Vélodrome stadium for the entry of the players added to this general mistrust. “You shame us” in the north bend; “You are disgusting” in the south bend … On the other side, a blue jersey was framed with two sentences: “Get it wet or break it!” and “Don’t give it away, respect it”. This last message was probably intended for Florian Thauvin, who had exchanged his jersey with the Paris SG striker Kylian Mbappé at the Champions Trophy break between the two teams, a week ago. The image had been widely criticized by some of the supporters of OM.
“We no longer exude this collective force” regrets Mandanda
The inability of the Marseille defender Duje Caleta-Car to put into words the reasons for the poor performance of his team makes you fear the worst. Even his captain Steve mandanda, usually lucid in analyzing the performances of his family, seemed lost at the microphone of the Téléfoot channel. “I don’t know, we no longer exude this collective strength that we had last season”, he vaguely tried to explain. “We have to question ourselves, take responsibility for whatever is going to happen behind it. There are a lot of things to change.”
More than ever, the coach André Villas-Boas is in the sights and particularly in danger. “We are thoroughly with him”, commented soberly the porter of the Blues, one of the few Olympians at the level this evening. “I’m not here to piss off the management”, said the Portuguese after the final whistle. “They don’t need to fire me, I would take my responsibilities if that’s what they want but so far we have always discussed on good terms.”
If it is difficult to guess the turn of events at the moment, one thing seems certain: a new defeat on Saturday 23 January against the Monegasque neighbor would create another big earthquake in Marseille.