My first full season with The Herbs is underway, and I’ve seen green shoots of recovery, after last season’s traumatic climax.
The transfer window closed with no changes from the previous update – in come Ramalama, Chergui, Belloc and Vardin; out go a bunch of youngsters, and highly-paid, fading stars. The four new signings go straight into the first team, although Vardin looks like he might be perennially struggling for full match sharpness . The other three, Ramalama, Chergui, and Belloc making up an initially prolific front-three.
Sticking with the formation that saved us from relegation – and looked promising in pre-season – I tweak our 4-3-3 slightly and head into the early stages of the campaign.
Right from the start, we look like a better team than last year. We’re unbeaten in the first 4 (2 wins, 2 draws), improving on results against the same teams from last year. We manage to lose the 5th game 4-3 having been 3-0 up, but it’s against the early league leaders, and we’re without a defensive stalwart, loanee Thomas Basila. No need to worry, he says, worrying.
As soon as Basila comes back from international duty, we get back to winning ways, albeit not for long. Wins against USBCO (3-1) and Amiens SC (1-0) – both of whom regularly finish higher than we do – are followed up by a 1-1 draw at home (and it could’ve been worse) against bottom-of-the-table, USQRM, and a 0-0 against title contenders, ASM Belfort.
These last few matches have seen us rotate the squad a bit, due to injuries and suspensions, which probably accounts for the drop of points. It also points to a lack of squad depth, which I might have to address at some point.
And that’s us at the end of September. We’ve played 9 games of the 2017/18 Championnat de France National season, and we’re currently in 2nd place, 5 points behind runaway leaders US Créteil-Lusitanos. We’ve only lost 1 of those opening games, so we’ve got be happy with that.
Player stats are looking good, with Ramalama the highest scorer in the team – and just behind the highest scorer in the league – on 8 goals. The young Madagascarian (is that a word?) is also 3rd in the league for average ratings, at 7.58. Belloc is top of the assist charts, with 6; and Teddy Bouriaud has 3 Player of the Match awards, taking him to 3rd place in the league charts for that stat.
October sees the start of the Coupe de France, as we join it at the 5th round stage, and a whole bunch of league games. Let’s hope we can continue our good form.