It’s slightly difficult to rate Tours in the goalkeeping department. At the moment, promising talent Bingourou Kamara is still on their books but he looks set to transfer away from the club. He’s got great potential although, even last season his head seemed in the cloud at times regarding potential transfers. Quentin Westberg has been given the starting spot pre season and looks set to keep it. The American has been around Ligue 2 for a while, often as a backup but he should do a reasonable job without being anything special. Esteban Salles will probably back him up when Kamara leaves the club. The Tours backline should be fairly strong, although losing key man Samuel Bouhours was a blow. He was their best defender and capable of playing in the middle or left hand side. This is quite a young defence, with only centre back Cyriaque Louvion offering much experience here. But there's some good young talent like Florian Miguel, Thibault Cillard & Jonathan Gradit.
One of the few other older guys is Bogdan Milosevic (CB) but he will probably start the season on the bench. Tours don’t have a standout star at the back and there could be plenty of competition for places. Their one weak spot is left back. Right now, Ibrahima Cisse is going to be the starter. But he’s right footed and better suited to playing on the other side. Daouda Konate has transferred to the club from Paris FC, although didn’t actually play in Ligue 2 last season because he was on loan. He is a more natural left back and could be a potential starter there too. Tours look well set in defensive midfield despite losing Laurent Agouazi. Ousseynou Cisse has signed and he used to be a pretty good player at this level for Dijon. Add in the likes of Haris Belkebla, Mohamed Maouche, plus a couple of half decent youngsters and TFC seem well set in this position. I wouldn't say they have elite talent in defensive areas, but they are more than competitive. It’s also the one area of their squad where depth seems better as well.
Key players: Jonathan Gradit (RB), Ousseynou Cisse (DM)
TFC certainly didn’t pull up any trees with their attack force last season and on paper this is their poorest area. I’ll start with the obvious weak spot which is upfront. Tours will likely field a 4-2-3-1 formation for most of the season so they only need one focal point. Quite who that will be remains to be seen. New signing from Paris FC Cheick Diarra looks favourite to fill the role right now. He’s might do a half decent job and had some good moments towards the end of last season with the relegated capital club. Another new signing is youngster from the Belgian 2nd tier Mayron de Almeida. But his goalscoring record isn’t anything eye catching and he seems quite raw, relatively unproven. Luca Miracoli is another option for them here, but he flopped last season only scoring one goal.
Of course, Tours could opt to employ Bryan Bergougnoux or Geoffroy Malfeury as a striker if they wanted to, but neither are naturally suited to the role. Maybe someone like Dairra will come off and score 10+ goals but I think they lack a proven quality finisher at the moment. Key playmaker will be the aforementioned Bergougnoux, but he’ll turn 34 in January and in the twilight of his career. Similar to Grougi at Brest and Cavalli at Ajaccio, his workload will have to be managed due to age. Tours don't have an awful lot else to fill the #10 role should he get injured. Most of their other midfielders are more defensive minded and the departed Baptiste Santamaria, who had six assists last season will be missed. Out wide, TFC have a couple of decent starters in Geoffrey Malfleury and Ibrahima Tandia. The latter is especially worth watching and has caught the eye of some Ligue 1 clubs. He’s looked sharp in preseason and should cause opponents problems on the right wing. Tours lack overall depth in attack though in all positions. They have admitted they’re in the market for at least another winger, specifically on the left hand ideally. They’ll have some decent days in front of goal and a positive approach should help. But the new coach needs to build up this area of the squad.
Key players: Bryan Bergougnoux (AM), Ibrahima Tandia (RW)
Coaching, other factors & conclusion
Marco Simone has left the club and Fabien Mercadal takes over. Simone divided opinion both with fans and pundits alike. One one hand Tours were pretty hard to beat and were one of the best tactical sides in the division. To be fair you couldn't argue much with their results either. TFC were comfortably in midtable all year. But Simone was extremely negative, even for French Ligue standards. He was often criticised for anti football and for focusing way too much on defence. The new coach has been managing National division side Dunkerque for the last four seasons, finishing inside the top six every time at that level. It looks like Mercadal will keep with a 4-2-3-1 formation, but won't be quite so defensive orientated. I still expect Tours’ main strength to be in defensive areas and they should play a smart tactical game in most games. But I think we’ll see them open up more compared to 2015/16. The new coach said he wants them to be more positive at home anyway. Mercadal had a good home record at Dunkerque and Tours are traditionally strong at Le Stade Vallee Du Cher. So it’ll be interesting to see if he can maintain a strong home field advantage here as well. I think TFC will lack offensive ammunition from time to time but I’d imagine they settle fairly comfortably into midtable again. The squad is relatively small but team spirit and togetherness is usually quite strong here.