Not so much a march, as a stumble towards the safety of home

A fantastic start to season 3 lurched into a disappointing middle. Rejuvenated after the winter break, The Herbs press on.

The last update mentioned something along the lines of no transfer activity taking place during the winter break. Immediately after that, I was able to pick up Kevin Soni, a young attacking midfielder, on loan from Bordeaux. We’ve had quite the run of injuries in that position, so it made sense to strengthen while we could.

I don’t want to pat myself too much on the back (who am I kidding AMIRITE?, but it turns out to be an inspired signing. 7 goals in 9 games from January to March, including a brace on his debut, in a 3-2 win away against Tours FC.

The same period sees an uplift in form, but it’s patchy and we don’t win 2 games in a row over a period of 3 months. Still, it’s enough to get us to 45 points, and definite safety, even if there is some kind of disaster in the closing games.

DWLDWDWLWLW

The best of these results is a 6-2 win against midtable Sochaux-Montbé, a game that sees Soni grab another brace, and Anthony Derouard net 4 goals, all of which come in the opening 45 minutes.

Derouard is one of our best performers this season and as April starts, he’s 3rd in the Goal charts, top of the Average Ratings, 3rd in Assists, and top of the PotM table. A superstar.

Such is the level of performance from him, and a few others, that I feel the need to tie down some players to longer contracts. Doing so sees the already inflated wage budget dive further into the red. So much so that I now get regular reminders from the board that “the club’s wage expenditure is a worry and you will need to address this as soon as possible“. I’m a little worried, but I really don’t intend to hang around long enough for that to be concern.

I should point out that both cup targets (9th round in the Coupe de France; 3rd round in the Coupe de la Ligue) disappeared under a cloud of acrid smoke by mid-December, so the league is the basket into which I have placed all my French eggs.

We’re now into April, 8 games to go, and 11 points from the top of the table. Winning Ligue 2 would be a stretch, but we’re only 4 points from automatic promotion, and that’s now the aim.

Edit: I forgot to mention that we lost Teddy Bouriaud to a long-term injury. As a result, FC Nantes called him back from him loan. I don’t know if I’m more disappointed for him, or for us. (It’s us. It’s definitely us).

 

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