There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding this team at the moment but the goalkeeping position is probably the most stable. #1 custodian will be Maxence Prevot who is decent at this level and still has plenty of potential to develop. Backing him up will be Lawrence ‘Zigi’ Ati who is a very athletic sort of keeper and another who could get better in time. This is an acceptable goalkeeping situation for Sochaux right now. Virtually the whole Sochaux team has changed elsewhere and defence is no exception. Gone are the likes of Teikeu, Alphonse & Ogier and replaced by a number of guys I’m not familiar with. One of the few I know is centre back Olivier Verdon, on loan from Bordeaux and a year in this division might do him some good at this stage. Sochaux have a partnership with Spanish side Alaves and as many as five new players have come in from that club. Rafa Navarro, Josema and Rafa Paez are new defenders on the roster. From what I’ve heard, Josema (CB) is the best of this bunch and should be a starter. Youngster from the Sochaux academy Salem M’Bakata has impressed in pre season and could push for a starting spot at right back. Sochaux have one very good defensive midfielder in Jeando Fuchs, a young player who should have a fine future. On loan from Lyon, Elisha Owusu could be one to keep an eye on in this position as well. Anyone from that academy can usually play decent football.
Key players - Josema (DC), Jeando Fuchs (DM)
Literally the only offensive players remaining on the books are younger players Thomas Robinet and Bryan Lasme. Both are set to feature more this year but need to show development in order to get to the next level. All of their top scorers from last season, Florian Marin, Kalulu and Touzghar have left the club. Abdoulaye Sane comes in from recently promoted Red Star and he enjoyed a strong season in the National (div3) but the step up a division leaves some question marks. Otherwise, Les Lionceaux have signed Ukrainian Pylyp Budkivsky, along with a duo from Alaves who I know nothing about Anderson Emanuel and Nando. A couple of other later additions this window are left winger Tope Obadeyi who last played at Oldham Athletic in England and striker Ermedin Demirovic again from Alaves. This guy has a market value of nearly £1m so it’s possible he could be good. The Sochaux attack could be anything though. My overall natural instinct is that nobody really stands out on paper as being exceptional. With so many new players it could take some time for them to gel as well.
Key player - Ermedin Demirovic (ATT)?
Coaching, other factors & conclusion
Of all the teams in Ligue 2 I would say Sochaux are by far the hardest to predict this season. There have been so many changes at the club and they have ripped everything up and started again. They are in a weird position in that the overall management of the club is being overseen by the Baskonia Alaves group and so far six players have come in from partner club Deportivo Alaves who are a La Liga team. The new manager is Jose Manuel Aira, a Spaniard who has only previously coached in the lower leagues of Spanish football. I have very little idea about his style although in a recent interview he said he was looking to try and ‘build from the back. Aira doesn’t speak French which could be a problem initially. I genuinely have no idea how Sochaux are going to do this year! I’d be surprised if they hit the ground running quickly with so many new players though. Logical sense would suggest that it will take them some time to gel together as a team and this could be a season of rebuilding. They are best watched for a while and could literally finish anywhere!
Prediction - Midtable?????