France Ligue 2 – US Orleans Season Preview 2018/19

Orleans defence

In goal the starter will be Gauthier Gallon and his backup is the experienced Thomas Renault. Orleans have what I’d call average strength in this department. Gallon will do a reasonably solid job and have good and bad days really. I always like the #2 keeper to be more experienced when possible and Renault is a good fit at the club and for the dressing room as well. The USO defence conceded quite a few goals last season but not a lot seems to have been changed during the summer so we can expect something similar. The one main difference is that left back Edson Seidou has left the club and the only new addition is Quentin Lecoeuche from Lorient. Mainstays of this backline include Cedric Cambon, Adrien Monfray and Gabriel Mutombo who has now been signed to a permanent deal at the club. I think this is just an average sort of defence but one good thing is general continuity. Defensive midfield is a strong area for Orleans and been reinforced this summer by the additions of Joseph Lopy and Durel Avounou. The former I always rated at Clermont and he was unlucky with an injury last year that seemed to set him back, but he could easily rebound here at Orleans. Avounou meanwhile, comes from Ligue 1 Caen on loan for a year. Yohan Demoncy has completed a permanent deal and experienced veteran Pierre Bouby remains on the books. Orleans should have solid foundations in midfield and certainly won't be outmuscled in this department.

Key players - Gabriel Mutombo (DC), Cedric Cambon (DC/DM)

Orleans offense

The big question here is how they replace top scorer from last season Yannick Gomis. He bagged 12 goals for the club, plus also weighed in with a few assists and became a key part of their team. Orleans have signed youngster Armand Lauriente on loan from Rennes, plus Fahd El Khoumisti from PSG B team. These guys might be useful but I can’t see them being the answer. Neither are Anthony Le Tallec or Hicham Benkaid but at least there is plenty of depth in attack for USO. On the wings Ousmane Cissokho and Gaetan Perrin should do a good job. Old dog Karim Ziani still has plenty of class from attacking midfield, but age is catching up with him now, leading to reduced minutes on the field. His overall influence both on and off the field is still important though.The manager admitted he was looking for at least one more attacker before the end of the transfer window. I struggle to see how they will bring in a true quality proven #9 striker which is what they need, but I’m sure the club will do their best. There is enough ability in the final third of the field for Orleans to be a threat but without an elite weapon it could restrict them a little bit.

Key players - Ousmane Cissokho (LW/RW), Karim Ziani (AM)

Coaching, other factors & conclusion

Didier Olle Nicolle has been at the club for roughly a year and a half now. He saved them from relegation in his first campaign via the playoff match and led them to a solid midtable finish last year. Nicolle has certainly been around the block a bit but actually seems to have settled at Orleans fairly well. He averages 1.37 points per game at the club and also averages the same mark for goals per game. They concede more in general and that has always been a theme of his teams wherever he's been. Defence isn't a priority with this guy and the opposition will always get chances against Orleans. I see USO as a lower midtable sort of side who should probably avoid relegation, but at the same time if they got sucked into some trouble it wouldn't be a surprise. The team were below average both at home and away last season and I don’t see much changing there either. This is a side that will have good and bad days and will probably find itself between 12-16th sort of position. They won't be boring by any means, but largely unpredictable in which anything is possible.

Prediction - Lower midtable