France Ligue 2 – GFC Ajaccio Season Preview 2018/19

GFC Ajaccio Defence

In between the sticks I’m not very convinced. Steve Elana has left and this is probably a good thing because he was starting to regress. This leaves Maxime Cassara and new signing David Oberhauser. The former has only ever made a couple of Ligue 2 starts, right at the end of last season and in both cases GFCA conceded four times. Meanwhile, Oberhauser has more experience but has only ever really been a backup goalkeeper in his whole career. I’m not sure who will earn the top job but neither are likely to be very good, unless Cassara is a pleasant surprise. The backline itself will be much changed from last year. Gone are mainstays like Jerome Mombris and Jeremie Brechet, whilst Gautier Lloris returns back to Nice on loan. GFCA are hopeful of securing him again at some point though. One very good signing should be left back Julien Palmieri who brings with him a wealth of experience both at Ligue 1 and 2 level. He also spent 4 years at Bastia so is familiar with Corsican values. Palmieri could end up playing left midfield or even on the wing though. The rest of the defence apart from Damien Perquis is questionable and can be very erratic. There are quite a few players in this department who are injury prone as well, which isn’t good news. From defensive midfield, GFCA have lost Youssouf M’Changama who played every match last season and is a key piece who will be missed. Mayoro N’Diaye and JB Pierazzi come in as new signings in this area and at least they won't lack for muscle or physique in the middle of the park.

Key players - Julian Palmieri (DL), Jean Baptiste Pierazzi (DM)

GFC Ajaccio offense

Only Tours scored less goals than ‘Le Gaz’ last season and I don’t see an awful lot changing with Albert Cartier in charge (more on him later). Their top scorer last season with just 5 goals was Ibrahima Toure and he will battle it out with Romain Armand and new signing Jeremy Blayac for minutes upfront. There is also youngster on loan from Bordeaux to consider, Aaron Boupenza, but I don’t expect too much from him. I actually like the addition of Blayac, even if he is getting on a bit now. The ex Strasbourg man has a decent historial strike rate in Ligue 2 and can be a bit of a fox in the box. Wide options include David Gomis and Wesley Jobello along with Palmieri if used offensively, but neither are that great. I would fully expect GFCA’s best attacking player this season to be new signing Jimmy Roye. He has spent the last 7 years at Niort and in a total of 211 Ligue 2 games, scored 34 goals and provided 28 assists. The big question is whether or not the coach will allow him to express himself fully? We saw last season how the introduction of Cartier as boss completely nullified the qualities of someone like Yoann Court so the same fate could happen to Roye. GFCA will probably struggle again offensively this season due to the negative tactics of the coach but also because they do lack overall quality, baring the odd couple of players. This won’t be a strong area for them.

Key players - Jimmy Roye (AM), Jeremy Blayac (ATT)

Coaching, other factors and conclusion

I’m not a fan of their manager Albert Cartier. He had a great couple of years with Metz obtaining a double promotion but it seems since then he has gone totally stale and outdated. His stint at Sochaux wax incredibly boring and since he took over GFCA last summer they have been poor to watch. His negative tactics appear to stifle decent attacking talents. GFCA only netted 35 goals last year and that probably won't change much until they get rid of him. In the last 16 rounds of last season they lost 11 times and picked up just 11 points - which is effectively relegation form! He has already said the first goal is just to avoid relegation but I think by adding quality players like Roye and Palmieri they could and should aspire to more. It’s highly likely the islanders will be down there in the relegation mixer but might just bore their way to survival. Cartier is a solid sort of coach and will make them hard to break down. It wouldn't actually surprise me if he got sacked at some point, then everything would suddenly change. GFCA certainly have an advantage in home games being on Cosica. Even in Ligue 1 they were hard to beat in front of their own fans. But I don’t expect too much from them on the road and something similar to last year’s 3-3-13 record is likely. Their only victories away last season came vs Tours and Quevilly who were relegated and Auxerre who at that stage of the season were awful. I think this will be a fairly struggling campaign for GFCA and they don’t feel like a club particularly heading in the right direction at the moment.

Prediction - Relegation battle