France Ligue 2 – AS Nancy Season Preview 2018/19

Nancy defence

The Lorraine outfit have a strange goalkeeping situation. They have three shot stoppers who could all be a #1 custodian, but neither of them have been convincing in recent seasons. Geoffrey Jourdren, Guy Rolland Ndy Assembe and Sergey Chernik will do battle for the gloves and surely one of them will leave at some stage. Obviously, there is plenty of depth here but I can only give then three stars for this area because I feel that neither of these keepers is an elite option. Nancy didn’t defend that well last season and quite a few bits of dead wood like Yahia, Cuffaut and Cetout have been shown the door. I really like the addition of Ernest Seka from Strasbourg and he can do a good job in any position on the backline. The same can be said about Loris Nery from Valenciennes, if he can stay fit that is. The likes of Diagne, Badilla and Muratori can hold their own as well, whilst younger players like Fischer and Bidounga are waiting in the wings for more minutes. This isn’t a brilliant defence by any means, but there is enough here for them to improve upon and it should be reasonably competitive. Nancy have a lot of depth and quality at defensive midfield with the newly signed Danilson da Cruz an excellent option. Laurent Abergel, Marchetti plus a few others make up a strong backbone for them in the middle of the park as well. It looks like young star Abou Ba will be sold to somewhere like Fiorentina which is a shame because he’s a fine prospect.

Key players - Ernest Seka (DEF), Danilson Da Cruz (DM)

Nancy offense

This certainly wasn’t a strong point for ASNL last season. Top scorer was old veteran Youssouf Hadji who has now left the club. The biggest bright spark was attacking midfield Amine Bassi who looks set to have a fine future. He caught the eye nailing 7 goals and 7 assists and would’ve had more if used properly by their negative managers. Bassi has been attracting some bigger clubs and Nancy will probably face a fight to keep him before the end of the transfer window. It’s possible he stays though which would be a big positive. I think there is an overall lack of attacking quality within their squad. Nancy have to hope that the likes of Yann Mabella, Anthony Robic, Maurice Dale and Anthony Koura deliver the goods but I don’t think there’s any guarantee of that. None of them were particularly great last year and need to step up with improvement. One late new signing has been striker Pape Sane on loan from Caen. He has kind of gone backwards in the last year or so and needs to rebound. The president recently said that he was ‘very confident’ that winger Arnaud Nordin would be re-signed again and he would add to their options. The Lorraine outfit won’t be terrible offensively but it could limit their progress and looks on paper to be the weakest part of their squad overall.

Key player - Amine Bassi (AM)

Coaching, other factors & conclusion

Didier Tholot is in charge and I’ve got to be honest, I’ve never rated him much. He has never averaged more than 1.10 points per game when managing any team in French football at this level and as a general rule his teams tend to concede too many goals. One positive was that he managed to keep Nancy up last season, albeit by effectively winning three home games against weak opposition. ASNL had a nightmare campaign, only just avoiding the drop by a whisker and they seemed like a club going backwards. The president Jacques Rousselot is going to sell the club in the next few months after a long stint in charge and they are in rebuild mode. In theory, Nancy shouldn’t be as bad as last season. I’m expecting a competitive side which is nothing too special. There is enough quality in their ranks to secure a midtable position. But if the manager struggles as he often has done over the course of a whole campaign then maybe things could go wrong again.

Prediction - Midtable

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