FC Tours: 2015/16 Ligue 2 Preview
Coach: Marco Simone
Stadium: Stade de la Vallée du Cher
Last Season: 15th in Ligue 2
Tours had huge goalkeeping problems last season. They ended up using three different starting custodians, eventually settling on youngster Bingoura Kamara. He was ok but inconsistent as you’d expect. They have signed Quentin Westberg from Norwegian club Sarpsborg as competition but he’s only average at best, so they could continue to struggle in this position unless Kamara develops.
The defence has lost two starters in Alassane Toure and Leo Schwechlen. I rate both but at least they’ve been replaced with a couple of experienced and proven players. A signing I like is the versatile Cyriaque Louvion who has a touch of class about him. TFC still have Samuel Bouhours to call upon, someone who’s been a rock for them in recent years. They also have some interesting younger players to watch out for, Cillard, Cisse and Gradit all of whom might have potential good futures. With Bogdan Milosevic set to have a full season with the team too, I’d say the defence has plenty of ability on paper. When you combine this with their manager’s strengths, then I’d expect them to be solid.
Tours were lightweight in the middle last year but two new signings have immediately strengthened things. Laurent Agouazi is an experienced journeyman in French football and will add some proper steel to the team, whilst Mohamed Maouche comes in from the Swiss league. Tours already have some reasonable players in the middle of the park. Pascal Berenguer is an aging dog now but will still offer plenty at this level, whilst youngsters Santamaria and Belkebla are definitely a couple to keep an eye on. Tours don’t have any good wide options in midfield but this isn’t a problem because the coach doesn’t intend on using any in his 4-3-1-2 formation. This midfield will be solid and hard to break down, albeit not quite as elite as some others in this ligue. It might also lack creativity.
New manager Simone will be using an AMID and two strikers in a regular formation. The AMID man will be Bryan Bergougnoux, someone who has proven quality at this level of football. He’s been the focal point of the Tours’ attack in recent years, everything seems to run through him. TFC have signed Alexis Bosetti on loan from Nice and he should go really well. Bosetti doesn’t have the greatest ability in the world but will always work 120% and has total effort throughout. He’s fiercely competitive and more than capable of filling his boots at ligue 2 level. Christian Kouakou has been converted into a striker by the new manager and this I’m less convinced about. He’s more of a natural winger and I’m not sure he will be clinical enough in front of goal. It could be the same story with Geoffroy Malfleury who’s signed from Le Havre. I would say he is better suited out wide, although does have a better past goalscoring record. Both Kouakou and Malfleury have great pace so they should go well against slow CBs.
Marco Simone is the new TFC boss and you know exactly what you’re going to get with this man. He’s announced his intention of using a 4-3-1-2 formation, which is fairly unusual for French football. He has said his main priority is to ‘defend well’ so I can’t imagine they’ll be a spectacular team. Think of typical Italian sides who set their stall out to defend and then counter attack, this is exactly what Tours will be like. Their negative attitude might be to their detriment, preventing them from achieving their full potential in the final third. That said, Tours had one of the worst defences in L2 last season, so you can’t blame Simone on trying to fix this. Traditionally they are a strong home team, well backed by their fans at Le Stade Valle du Cher.
Don’t expect Tours to be a flashy or entertaining team. They will probably be pretty boring and their main objective likely to keep things tight and grind out results. On paper they have some decent quality all over, especially in defensive areas. Their ambition is to have a solid midtable season and then gradually build towards a promotion bid in 2016/17. I think they will pretty much live up to their expectations this year and might even sneak into the top ten.
Prediction – 9th