STade de Reims’ defeat to Marseille at the opening day of the season is having a look increasingly more a long way away this present day and now not simply as a result of the World Cup smash. Reims’ 3-1 win over Rennes on Thursday evening was once their 8th fit in a row with out defeat, a run that has coincided with the set up of Will Still as their supervisor. Some of the video games in that run had been towards the league’s lesser lighting – and Reims weren’t majorly disrupted by way of the World Cup, with handiest Junya Ito taking part in in Qatar – however the proof of the younger supervisor’s sure affect continues apace.
This was once all the time more likely to be a difficult season for Reims, with the membership’s contemporary signings being relatively hit and miss. Ito has hit the bottom working, however gamers reminiscent of Valon Berisha, Anastasios Donis and Kaj Sierhuis had been relatively expensive missteps. The membership’s academy has produced a tight degree of ability, together with Hugo Ekitiké, Axel Disasi and Alexis Flips, however a mass exodus in the summertime appeared to have significantly weakened their probabilities of extending their keep in Ligue 1.
Ekitiké and disgruntled fellow attacker El Bilal Touré were the keys to the group’s assault, and Wout Faes and goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic had additionally been elemental to their play. Even with Ito arriving for a club-record rate, and former outlays on Azor Matusiwa and Jens Cajuste, Reims appeared more likely to be dealing with a difficult season. That might but be the case, however Still’s arrival has super-charged the facet and survival appears to be like much more likely by way of the day.
Born to British folks who emigrated to Belgium ahead of he was once born, Still appears to be like to be an excessively succesful supervisor. The 30-year-old has surely earned his stripes, having began early and labored his manner as much as his present place. Playing Football Manager as a young person satisfied him to modify his focal point from taking part in soccer to training it, and he started a path at Myerscough College in Preston. He joined Preston North End on the age of 20, running with the membership’s academy gamers, ahead of he returned to the rustic of his start in 2014.
After years of running his manner up from being a video assistant, then assistant supervisor after which caretaker within the Belgian most sensible flight, he joined Reims in 2021 as an assistant to Óscar García. After spending part of final season again at the sidelines in Belgium with Standard Liège, he returned to Reims at first of the present marketing campaign, taking up the reins from García in early October. The Spaniard’s dismissal was once observed in some quarters as an unfair one – a rash of purple playing cards were a significant factor in Reims’ early effects this season, and García later published that his younger daughter were affected by a long-term sickness. She died a couple of weeks after she was once sacked.
Reims have indubitably progressed underneath Still’s control. The maximum noticeable alternate has been within the group’s techniques. While García most well-liked to play in a 5-3-2, with Folarin Balogun and Ito as a strike partnership, Still has moved to a 4-2-3-1, taking part in with an competitive press. This press was once on complete show towards Rennes this week, with Ito and Alexis Flips running doggedly to harry the opposing defence.
This tactical shift has now not handiest unnerved warring parties, but it surely has additionally made Reims a extra unhealthy attacking facet. They may simply have scored greater than 3 objectives towards Rennes, as Arbër Zeneli, Ito and Balogun – an Arsenal loanee who has been a revelation with 10 objectives to this point – all spurred just right possibilities at the counter. Beyond techniques, Still has additionally made key adjustments to staff, losing Patrick Pentz, who had appeared a legal responsibility from the off, and bringing in Yehvann Diouf, who has been cast however unspectacular, and taking part in Emmanuel Agbadou in protection along the veteran Yunis Abdelhamid, the Ivorian providing a extra composed selection to Andreaw Gravillon.
Still additionally supplies a deep wisdom of Belgian soccer – a hyperlink that has now not been misplaced at the Reims hierarchy. The membership has loved numerous luck purchasing from that marketplace. Players reminiscent of Ito, full-backs Thomas Foket and Thibaut De Smet (now are compatible and having a look a a long way sharper participant than he did a season in the past), Agbadou and now-departed fellow defender Faes had been integral to the group’s survival in recent times. Now, the group’s use of Belgian ability at the pitch and at the touchline might be key to pushing the membership against a go back to Europe.
Paris Saint-Germain appeared ripe for the taking over Strasbourg on Wednesday night time. An personal objective from Marquinhos piled extra distress at the captain after any other deflection within the World Cup for Brazil, and Neymar was once despatched off early in the second one 1/2 for a dive. But relatively than fold, PSG dug deep and pressed for a winner, getting it from none rather than Kylian Mbappé, as he received and duly transformed a penalty within the ninety fifth minute. Mbappé looked as if it would achieve any other tools within the World Cup after a reasonably moribund begin to the season and, if he continues to play like a person possessed, there may be little the remainder of the league can do.
Lyon had minimum involvement within the World Cup and the risk for Laurent Blanc to impart his strategies appears to be like to have paid off handsomely. With handiest Karl Toko Ekambi and Nicolás Tagliafico absent for the six-week smash, Lyon had been running laborious to construct a extra unified entrance in assault and defence. In addition to a transfer to a 4-2-3-1, Blanc additionally doubled down at the group’s connection to its academy, bringing in Rayan Cherki and Corentin Tolisso to the group’s line-up. In all, seven academy merchandise had been integrated from the off towards Brest within the group’s 4–2 win, a bunch now not observed because the 2016–17 season, when the group just about reached the overall of the Europa League. Blanc’s newfound Gone motion will face sterner exams within the weeks to come back, however the sense of brotherhood it kind of feels to be fostering has labored up to now.
Ultimately, Monaco’s academy continues to supply the products. They beat Auxerre 3-2 on Wednesday, with 17-year-old Eliesse Ben Seghir hitting a second-half double in his first league look. He isn’t the one academy product within the group – Maghnes Akliouche and Benoît Badiashile have additionally performed vital roles this season – however he seems like an actual ability. La Diagonale – the similar academy that produced Kylian Mbappé and Thierry Henry – may neatly be burning any other incandescent younger attacker.