How to revive after finding the Grail? Like many successful teams, the Lille Olympique Sporting club (LOSC) is faced with the difficult management of the aftermath of the party. Sacred French football champion last season, the northern club begins, Tuesday, September 14 against Wolfsburg, the Champions League campaign with a headache worthy of the day after a clearance sale.
However, despite the delicate financial situation of the club, which had led to its takeover at the end of 2020 by the investment fund Merlyn Partners, the Lille workforce was not sold to the cut after a season which saw the Mastiffs topped Paris-Saint-Germain at the post in Ligue 1 (83 points against 82 at the end of 38 days).
“The transition is difficult”
Due to a transfer market made sluggish by the health situation, most players likely to leave the capital of Flanders have not found a taker. Only goalkeeper Mike Maignan (AC Milan), midfielder Boubakary Soumaré (Leicester) or winger Luiz Araujo (Atlanta) packed their bags; as well as the trainer Christophe Galtier, architect of the project.
At the end of a year on a cloud, the return to earth is no less difficult for Lille who seem to have lost their bite. With 11 goals conceded in five games, LOSC, despite being the best defense in Ligue 1 last year, made the worst start to the league for a defending champion since the 1964-1965 season (it was then Saint-Etienne) , and point to twelfth place. “We lacked aggressiveness, the desire to win. We have to make more efforts ”, criticized José Fonte (37), experienced captain interviewed by Amazon Prime Video after the defeat in Lorient (2-1), Friday, September 10. “We have to do a lot better, it’s unacceptable. “
“The transition between the two seasons is difficult, noted, at the end of August, Jocelyn Gourvennec, the new Lille coach. But that’s pretty much all the time when a team that isn’t designed to be a champion does. “
The 2010-2011 precedent
Other clubs have known this before. In 2012, Montpellier, crowned champion with the nose and beard of a PSG freshly bought by the Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) fund, did not take himself for another before approaching the Champions League. “What I would like, so as not to look too c … is that we win one or two games [au stade de] la Mosson, that we finish third and that we qualify for the Europa League ”, expressed then the earthy president of the Hérault club, Louis Nicollin (died in 2017).
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