At Olympique de Marseille, this year, everything was finally reduced to one game or rather two, including the Monaco game in Lens, to get a more or less positive balance from Jorge Sampaoli’s first full season on the OM bench . Although the second place declares in his favor, should we be satisfied with him?
Saturday, May 21, 2022, 10:48 p.m. While Olympique de Marseille leads 4-0 against Strasbourg on the pitch of the Orange Vélodrome and only a small goal is missing for the Marseilles to be second on special goal difference, a murmur that turns into clamor in a fraction of a second takes over of the bays. of the stadium to announce the good news: Lensois Ignatius Ganago tied in 96Y minute against Monaco, which sends the Foceans directly to seventh heaven, or at least to the Champions League without going through the play-off box.
At the final whistle, a president moved to tears on the pitch, a communion of players with fans in a melting stadium and a scene that symbolizes all this sweet madness: Matteo Guendouzi, with a smile on his lips, carries Jorge hard Sampaoli. Between gratitude and compulsive joy, this gesture by the former Arsenal midfielder is not anecdotal. Because at the end of this epic scenario, it is the entire philosophy of the Argentine tactician that triumphs, the principles of the game introduced by the former coach of Argentina that his little protégés have appropriated and rigorously applied. The objective of the beginning of the season has been fulfilled. Sportingly, it’s a success, and given owner Frank McCourt’s leaps and bounds in his seat, it’s good news financially, too. Six years after buying the club, the American has just secured his second qualification for the Champions League in three years. Seen from here, the image is perfect.
The victory that hides the forest
Looking in the rearview mirror, Marseillais will also remember that this season has been a long and painful river, full of doubts, misunderstandings and skepticism regarding Jorge Sampaoli, whose choices and philosophy have been far from reaching unanimity. Even if the end result proves him right, the place of the dolphin can not hide everything. Certainly, the man who knows no limits in his technical area has managed to unite around him a squad finely crafted by the talented Pablo Longoria. The successive failures in the French Cup (Nice) and in the Europa League Conference (Feyenoord) as well as a weakness in the matches against their rivals Lyon and Paris appear as great points in the balance of the season. Another sore point, the Argentine sometimes seemed a prisoner of his own philosophy in wanting to force a position on unsuitable players: Lirola in a hybrid full-back role, Gerson left-back or even Saliba right-back.
Is the search for patience and excessive possession really compatible with a motto (“straight to the point”) that advocates the opposite? It is clear that the Casilda native’s project was a small fiasco at the Vélodrome (OM finished on 10Y of Ligue 1 at home). A little waste when you know how much the Olympic public is waiting to get excited. The objective of the divine bald man will be to push the right buttons next season, knowing that he has been able to find the formula away from home, without anyone having done it better than OM and his 12 wins away from home (against only 9 at home) . .
So, what can we do now?
Now that qualification for the Champions League is on the cards, the Marseille leaders might have wondered if it was the right thing to continue the adventure with a 62-year-old coach who was unstable enough to never have lasted two years on the bench of a team. ? He arrived in Marseille in March 2021 as the duty firefighter who was able to put out a large-scale fire, the double of the late Ticky Holgado was able to become a construction supervisor laying the foundations for the Longoria era. His incessant tactical experiments and his fever in big events may have hinted that the state of grace would not necessarily last forever, Sampaoli should be OM coach next season. According to information from The team, the coach, with a contract until 2023, could even extend it. So it should come as no surprise that Mattéo Guendouzi will experiment with the centre-forward position in the coming months.
By Harrel Mbadinga Obame