OGC Nice: January 2021

As our poor form with Nice continued to build up a head of steam, we had eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Winter Transfer Window.

After a week of discussions, we (fmadventure and FM Grasshopper) had finalised a set of profiles for potential targets. After a bit of player searching these profiles turned themselves into shortlisted players.

Three great bastions of defence: Nicolas Nkoulou from Torino (£2m transfer; £59k/week wages), Jeffrey Bruma from Wolfsburg (£550k; £36.5k/week) and Jesus from Roma (£850k; £40k/week).

Two central midfielders capable of performing defensive actions: Etienne Capoue from Watford (£10m; £50k/week) and Danilo Cataldi from Lazio (£10m; £64k/week).

Two bustling centre forwards to fire us to glory/away from damnation: André-Pierre Gignac from Tigres UANL (£3m; £64k/week) and Andreas Voglsammer from Arminia Bielefield (loan for £750k fee; minimal wage contributions).

Having been given a transfer budget of £12m and an available wage budget of £30-40k per week, it was clear that if we wanted to sufficiently improve this Nice squad we would need to sell first to generate some funds.

As one of the highest earners, aging defender Dante was earmarked for departure. Having initially agreed we would be happy to allow him away on a free just to free up the wages, we were shocked to receive a bid of £140k from Botafogo for the former Brazil international. Youcef Atal was another player we had noted as available for departure – chiefly due to the current interest in his services and our reckoning that we might be able to get somewhere in the region of £7.5 – £10m for the wingback. As it happened the bids from several Chinese Super League clubs reached a high of £25m – our elation soon turned to deflation when Atal rejected these bids as he was holding out for a move to Manchester United that never transpired.

So, with little added to our war chest (more of a war envelope in my opinion), we looked at our shortlist once more and whittled it down to what we believed to be the bare essentials: in came Nicolas Nkoulou for a fee of £1.9m on £64k/week, Andreas Voglsammer on a full transfer for £1.1m on £16k/week and André-Pierre Gignac for £3.5m on £64k/week. We made one final signing on the recommendation of our trusted advisor FMRensie – Pichu Atienza from Real Zaragoza for £800k on £10.5k/week.

We kick off 2021 in domestic cup action – our Coupe de France Ninth Round fixture against semi-pro US Marseille Endoume before a return to Ligue 1 action against Stade Rennais. Success dependent, we’ll then have a Coupe de France Tenth Round and Eleventh Round match either side of an away league match against AS Monaco. Finally, January will finish by hosting RC Lens at home, our last league match of the month.

We made the decision to welcome back our old friend @FromElevenOne for this month’s cup match(es). A chance for FEO to redeem himself after his disappointing (but probably to be expected) loss against PSG earlier this season.

Starting XI: Walter Benítez; Youcef Atal, Róbson Bambu, Guylian Zouma, Andy Pelmard; Stanley Nsoki; Pierre Lees-Melou, Danilo; Rony Lopes, Amine Gouiri; Myziane Maolida

Subs: Khephren Thuram (for Pierre Lees-Melou, 61 mins), Hicham Mahou (for Myziane Maolida, 71 mins), Jeff Reine-Adélaïde (for Danilo, 79 mins)

Stanley Nsoki was the man chosen to patrol the gap between defence and midfield while 21-year-old Hicham Mahou makes his first appearance from the season from the bench. There was also a debut for Guylian Zouma, 17 year old brother of Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma.

The scoring was opened on 7 minutes when Rony Lopes successfully converted his penalty. Lope was on hand to set up the second as his freekick was volleyed in off the crossbar by Róbson Bambu in the 13th minute. Some patient play from the back finally left the ball at the feet of Amine Gouiri in the 18th minute and he expertly forced his way into the box and placed the ball into the bottom right corner.

Gouiri popped up again just after the half hour mark as he leapt to meet Youcef Atal’s cross and head in the fourth goal of the game. Gouiri completed his hattrick in the 81st minute as he managed to get a head to Rony Lopes whippped cross and gave the opposition goalkeeper no chance. Nice’s sixth goal came in the last few minutes of normal time as Rony Lopes notched up a hattrick of assists when his corner was nodded in at the near post by substitute Hicham Mahou.

Talking Points:

  • Rony shows his capability from a dead ball yet again, if only he could find some consistency.
  • It was nice to see a debut for Guylian Zouma

Starting XI: Walter Benítez; Jordon Lotomba, Nicolas Nkoulou, Stanley Nsoki; Hassane Kamara; Hicham Boudaoui, Danilo, Morgan Schneiderlin; Alexis Claude-Maurice, Amine Gouiri; Andreas Voglsammer

Subs: Myziane Maolida (for Amine Gouiri, 75 mins)

It’s a debut for both Nicolas Nkoulou and Andreas Voglsammer against a Stade Rennais side that are gunning for a top four spot.

With just 14 minutes on the clock we were behind at home. The defence failed to adequately clear Faitout Maouassa’s freekick and centre back Nayef Aguerd capitalised on the confusion to poke the ball home inside the six yard box.

In truth, it was the only real action of the match as neither side created any further chances of note in the remaining 76 minutes. OGC Nice managed to register just 2 shots on target in the entire game.

Talking Points:

  • As always, we manage the build the ball up from the back so well but lack any source of creativity in the final third
  • Another goal conceded from a mistake in defence – is there a leadership void in this backline?

Starting XI: Walter Benítez; Jordon Lotomba, Pichu Atienza, Nicolas Nkoulou, Hassane Kamara; Danilo, Morgan Schneiderlin, Jeff Reine-Adélaïde; Myziane Maolida, Amine Gouiri; André-Pierre Gignac

Subs: Pierre Lees-Melou (for Danilo, 64 mins), Andreas Voglsammer (for André-Pierre Gignac, 71 mins), Stanley Nsoki (for Hassane Kamara, 81 mins)

Another chance for FEO to take us on in our cup run. Two more debuts for OGC Nice, this time for centre back Pichu Atienza and potential season saviour André-Pierre Gignac.

It took just 8 minutes for Nice to get off the mark as Jeff Reine-Adélaïde latched onto a half clearance from Le Mans and scored on the half-volley. It was six minutes later that the lead was double as Amine Gouiri’s neat work down the right work led to a cross that was converted by Myziane Maolida.

The game went a bit quiet until the 79th minute when Jeff Reine-Adélaïde’s lovely through ball found substitute Andreas Voglsammer who had managed to beat the offside trap. The German striked hit a sweet left footed shot to register his first goal for Les Aiglons. It felt somewhat inevitable that Nice would concede and they did just that on 83 minutes when Begue was left unmarked in the box and his weak effort beat Walter Benítez.

Myziane Maolida completed his brace on 93 minutes thanks to a second assist from Reine-Adélaïde. The cross finding Maolida at the back post to volley home the final goal of the game.

Talking Points:

  • Jeff Reine-Adélaïde excelled as a Deep Lying Playmaker – could he be the answer to the creative woes?
  • No dream debut for Gignac but it was great to see Voglsammer get off the mark

Starting XI: Walter Benítez; Youcef Atal, Nicolas Nkoulou, Stanley Nsoki, Hassane Kamara; Myziane Maolida, Danilo, Jeff Reine-Adélaïde, Amine Gouiri; André-Pierre Gignac, Andreas Voglsammer

Subs: Khephren Thuram (for Jeff Reine-Adélaïde, 60 mins), Alexis Claude-Maurice (for Myziane Maolida, 71 mins)

With two match fit forwards finally on the wage bill, we see it as time to push a 4-4-2 formation in the hope of reclaiming some glory. Last time out against AS Monaco we had just made it two wins from two and were riding high at the outset of the season.

Any semblance of positivity was crushed with a mere 31 minutes on the clock as AS Monaco recycled possession from an overhit freekick to allow Florentino Luís to cross to Djibril Sidibé at the back post and head in the opening goal.

Nice took until the 52nd minute to register their response, Myziane Maolida’s run down the right wing giving him a chance to shoot at goal. The shot parried straight to the feet of Gignac who made no mistake from just 5 yards out to equalise. Cries of “Are we back?” could be heard from those in attendance.

Their answer given in the 89th minute when Sidibé’s cross was turned into the back of the net by Stevan Jovetic. A much needed point was almost in our hands but so cruelly grappled away in the final minutes.

Talking Points:

  • Jeff Reine-Adélaïde was anonymous as a DLP in a match against a higher level of opponent
  • Gignac has goals in him, this one wasn’t impressive but there’s more to come if we can just find that vital supply line

Starting XI: Walter Benítez; Youcef Atal, Róbson Bambu, Nicolas Nkoulou, Hassane Kamara; Stanley Nsoki; Danilo, Jeff Reine-Adélaïde; Myziane Maolida, Amine Gouiri; André-Pierre Gignac

Subs: Rony Lopes and Andreas Voglsammer (for Jeff Reine-Adélaïde and Amine Gouiri, 58 mins), Pierre Lees-Melou (for Stanley Nsoki, 72 mins)

Sadly FEO’s Coupe de France dream came to an end in the Eleventh Round with a defeat away to Montpellier.

Montpellier took the lead on 25 minutes and it was a goal worthy of any end of season highlight reel. Téji Savanier picking the ball up 30 yards from goal and rifling the ball into the top left corner of the Nice goal.

It was an evenly played game and finally Nice looked to be on to something when they found an equaliser in the 74th minute. Hassane Kamara’s low cross finding Andreas Voglsammer free in the box for his second goal in as many cup games.

Sadly it wasn’t to be as Montpellier broke from defence to attack with 9 minutes remaining and Gaetan Laborde found the back of the OGC Nice net to break hearts on the French Riviera.

Talking Points:

  • For once, there can be no complaints about the goals conceded. Both well taken and we were just very unlucky here

Starting XI: Walter Benítez; Youcef Atal, Nicolas Nkoulou, Pichu Atienza, Hassane Kamara; Stanley Nsoki; Danilo, Khephren Thuram; Alexis Claude-Maurice, Myziane Maolida; André-Pierre Gignac

Subs: Amine Gouiri (for Youcef Atal, HT), Rony Lopes (for Hassane Kamara, 50 mins), Jeff Reine-Adélaïde (for Khephren Thuram, 62 mins)

Andreas Voglsammer’s injury means a return to a lone striker in André-Pierre Gignac. Not ideal timing given our dire need to end this run of three consecutive league losses.

Lens opened the scoring on 39 minutes when Massadio Haidara’s cross found Ignatius Ganago at the near post to sidefoot past Walter Benítez, it was all too easy for them. The reaction from OGC Nice was superb though as Les Aiglons struck back straight from the kick off with André Pierre-Gignac scoring his second Nice goal with a neat left footed finish from the edge of the box.

RC Lens found the winner just after the hour mark with some pure route one football. The long ball forward, knocked on into the path of the on-running Ignatius Ganago. Ganago’s 20 yard lob over Walter Benítez was worthy of winning any game. A great finish but the Nice defence were nowhere to be seen.

Talking Points:

  • Four consecutive losses equals our worst run made in October/November. We’re stuck in a rut and seriously lacking any route out
  • Voglsammer and Gignac clearly have the ability to drag us out of a hard spot but without the right level of service they are totally wasted.

Having failed to pick up a single point in the month of January we slip down two places in the table. As if this wasn’t bad enough, we were requested to attend a meeting with the board…

Being the cunning negotiators that we are, we’ve managed to banish any talk of sackings or even ultimatums. That said, the board do have one promise they have signed us up to – improving their overall level of confidence in us. It’s a very vague statement but with having not won in our last six league games, surely the only way is up?

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