If you ask any football manager in the world, he would tell you that he loves it when the press are not talking about his club at all, even when they are doing well.
They just want to go about their business without the added pressure and win football games to help their team rise through the ranks. One such team has done that not only last season but this is French side FC Lorient, who everyone seems to forget just how well they have performed.
Last season, the club managed to end the season in eighth position, just a spot off their best-ever seventh place finish in 2009-10. Through predominantly the scoring boots of Jeremie Aliadiere, FCL rose through the ranks to finish above the then-reigning champions Montpelier.
This season didn’t start off so well, after splitting their first four games with two wins and two losses, the club went on a run of just one win in nine games, with that victory coming against lowly Sochaux. Sitting in lowly 17th position, it seemed like this season would be much more of a struggle for Christian Gourcuff’s men.
However, the club managed to turn things around quickly by stringing together five wins on the bounce and conceding just one goal in the process. And just before the winter break they showed their character by drawing 2-2 with Lyon in the final minute having been two down just after half-time, lifting them to 9th in the table.
As always with football, there were a number of contributing factors to Lorient’s change in fortune but the most prominent is the form of Cameroonian striker Vincent Aboubakar. Since joining on a free from Valenciennes in the summer, many thought he might not live up to the potential he had shown in his teenage years.
But Aboubakar has silenced those critics, scoring 11 goals in Ligue 1 so far and is only behind PSG pair Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani in the goal-scoring charts. His movement has been excellent, he drifts in and around the back four in such a way that players can’t keep track of him, giving him the space to use his pace and his finishing ability to deadly effect.
The service has been excellent too, mainly from veteran Yann Jouffre, who is currently joint third in assists with five so far. He’s been a consistent threat down Lorient’s right wing and has also scored on five occasions, showing that he can both create and finish attacking moves for the club.
The defence has been pretty solid too, especially as of late. Bruno Ecuele Manga and Lamine Kone have struck up a solid partnership that has seen interest come in for both from Premier League clubs. The signing of 20-year-old Raphael Guerreiro has also helped, with the left-back becoming more consistent in attacking and defending over the course of the season, solidifying his place in the side.
With the return of Jeremie Aliadiere and Alain Traore from injury, with the latter scoring the equaliser against Lyon, this side could continue to impress this season if players can stay fit. But, as I said earlier, Gourcuff will be hoping more than most that his team stay flying under the radar in France.
Additional thoughts from @FCLorientUK:
It was an awful start to the season which lowered the mood around Lorient, however recent run of superb form has put the club right back in the race for European Football.