Valenciennes FC: 2015/16 Ligue 2 Preview
Coach: David le Frapper
Stadium: Stade du Hainaut
Last Season: 16th in Ligue 2
The GK spot was an issue for VA last season but they’ve rectified that by signing Damien Perquis from Caen. Truth be told, Perquis could be a ligue 1 keeper but Remi Vercoutre denied him that chance at Caen. It’s surprising he’s made the move back down to L2 level and he’ll be one of the best in the division. The defence has lost some well known names like Adama Coulibaly and Kenny Lala, but both of those fell foul of coach David Le Frapper at the end of last season so might not be missed too much. Loic Nestor could be a potentially great addition if he returns to his old form. Unfortunately, he’s been rotting away with Chateauroux in recent years and the change of scenery should do him good – he used to be a proper stud at this level. VA have some decent young full backs – Nery, Ciss and Fulgini are a trio worth watching out for. At CB, big and powerful Yunis Abdelhamid should give them a solid foundation. Overall I like the look of them at the back and combined with the coach’s tactics I’d imagine they will be pretty tight.
VA are relying on both youth and experience in this department, they don’t have an awful lot in between. The ageing Fabrice Abriel is extremely injury-prone these days and I question how much he can really add to the team, even if he does manage to stay fit. Sekou Baradji is another older player who can’t stay injury free anymore, plus he isn’t really much good. Some younger players worth keeping an eye on are Lucas Tousart and Abdoul Kabore. The coach stuck with this duo towards the end of last season so clearly likes them a lot. My personal opinion is that both are still very raw and will need time to develop. Enza Yamissi has left the club and I think this is a big blow because he was their best midfielder last season. At least they have plenty of options here, but overall this midfield doesn’t impress me too much.
The big concern here is that they’ve lost 13-goal man Anthony Le Tallec who scored nearly 40% of their goals last season! Now many people don’t rate Le Tallec (including myself) but his loss is a real blow. Coming in as a replacement is Teddy Butin from Sochaux, but VA are dreaming if they expect him to deliver the goods. When fit, Butin isn’t too bad, but he‘s terribly injury prone and seems to have a body made of glass. Opa Nguette is another striker on their roster and this lad does have some great potential. But he comes into the season off the back of a bad injury last term, so might not be at his best for a while. VA don’t really have a lot else in the final third except some younger unproven players. They look extremely weak out wide and don’t seem to have much creativity in their ranks. I seriously worry they will lack goals unless reinforcements are brought in.
The ineffective Bernard Casoni was sacked in February and new man David le Frapper led them to safety – albeit only just! They had to come from behind on the last day of the season to stay in ligue 2, so it was a really close call. Le Frapper only lost 2 of his 13 matches in charge but he’s still a very unproven coach with little experience. It might be that VA are onto a good thing with him, but what will happen when the honeymoon period passes? Time will tell, but one thing we do know about Le Frapper are his defensive tactics. He likes to make the team hard to beat and a number of times they were difficult to break down. I expect Les Nordistes to be a reasonably decent away side, although at home their big stadium can resemble a morgue if few fans turn up.
I personally think VA will be in trouble. Quite how far down they will finish remains to be seen. From a defensive point of view they should be pretty solid but I do worry about their midfield and attacking strength. Lack of goals could be a real issue and maybe they will be the sort of team who pick up too many draws. This club has been through plenty of turmoil in recent years and I don’t think things will get significantly better in a hurry. The best they can hope for is a midtable campaign. At worst, they might even go down.
Prediction – 19th