2017/18: Mid-Season Review
In acte’s I and II, we focused on the spine of our team and looked at summer transfer dealings in and out of the club. After a highly successful pre-season which gave us ample time to test different formations, player roles and combinations we’ve arrived and settled on a 4-1-2-3 DM Wide. Mentality and Team Shape will of course be determined prior to each specific fixture.
When identifying players who match our philosophy at Saint-Étienne – the main attributes we’ll be instructing our scouts to look out for are; work rate, teamwork, stamina and strength. The team will be required to press aggressively in more advanced positions, and this will start with defensive forward, Ilija Nestorovski. £4m (£9m) signing from Palermo.
Rémy Cabella will be given license to roam from his wide position – cutting inside to both create and score goals. I fully expect the on loan attacker to reach double figures this season. Assane Dioussé is a young player we truly have high, high hopes for here at Saint-Étienne. The Senegalese will mostly be deployed as a mezzala – support, and will occupy the space left by the roaming, Cabella.
“Mezz’ala – outside midfielder that’s not a winger”
4-1-2-3 DM Wide
The board feel we should at least be achieving a top half finish in Ligue 1 with the players we have at our disposal. I tend to agree with them but, I’m quietly confident we can push for a UEFA Europa League spot.
We’re well aware of what this squad of players are capable of but, to only lose one match out of the first ten is fantastic. That solitary defeat coming in a 1 – 0 away loss against the mighty Paris Saint-Germain. Nestorovski netted a double at home to OGC Nice on the opening day of the season and has remained a decisive influence throughout.
A serious leg break to Lois Diony in the match against PSG really hit us hard. With no other recognised striker, Nestorovski would be entrusted with leading the line. Other players would also need to step-up and chip in with some goals.
Loïc Perrin and Kévin Théophile-Catherine have formed a strong partnership at central defence. Catherine playing as the covering player as he possesses more pace and acceleration than Perrin. The pair really came under scrutiny following the draw at Angers, the 4 – 3 victory away to Dijon and 1 – 1 draw against Rennes. All three fixtures saw us concede in the final 5 minutes.
With Nestorovski seemingly struggling to find scoring form, we competed fantastically well to keep up with the leading pack in Ligue 1. We were back to winning ways, and it was 4th versus 5th when we faced FC Metz. Andea Pirlo assisting Assane Dioussé for the only goal of the game – a 30 yard thunderbolt. Dioussé was really beginning to hit form, coming up with the goods in the next fixture at home to Montpellier.
The first Derby Rhône-Alpes of the season ended in stalemate. Something the fans were none too pleased about, but I’ll take it to be honest. Lyon are far advanced with regards to squad strength and depth.
As you can see – the second ten matches of the season weren’t to be quite so fruitful, with us only managing three victories over this period.
Following on from our patchy mid-season form, we managed to get back to winning ways and find ourselves in third place.
The magnificent performances of Cabella have really been something to savour with him chipping in with 9 goals and 2 assists in 14 matches.
Inside Forward – Attack
Another player, Ronaël Pierre-Gabriel, offers a blend of speed and a keen eye for carving the game open high up the pitch. At only nineteen years old, he’s one of four players under the age of twenty to feature regularly in the starting eleven.
Full Back – Attack
Winter Transfer Window
With captain, Loïc Perrin advancing in years, we had to look into moulding his understudy and eventual successor at the heart of our defence. That man we believe to be Dutchman, Perr Schuurs from Fortuna Sittard.
The 21-year-old forward signed on loan for the remainder of the campaign in the final hour of the window and has top level Premier League experience having impressed with his parent club, Everton. Calvert-Lewin made his debut as a second half substitute in the 2 – 0 victory over Amiens. A match in which Loïs Diony made his long awaited return from injury. Diony, stationed centrally, released Calvert-Lewin behind the Amiens defence for a well-taken second. The striker’s speed took him away from his marker and he met Diony’s pass with a low first-time finish beyond Régis Gurtner from 12 yards.
To say I’m happy with our standing in the league is a massive understatement…!! We’re performing well above the level expected of us, and things look very promising going forward for Saint-Étienne. With some really talented players currently at the club and, with deals already agreed to bring fresh, exciting new faces into the club this summer – it’s looking hugely positive.
Thirteen fixtures remain in Ligue 1.
It’s in our own hands…
Stay tuned for Volume IV, where we’ll be focusing on the remaining matches of the season, take a look at where we need to strengthen our squad and analyze the players who’ll be arriving at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
Take care, and Allez les Verts !