The OM's Week of Truth09 apr 2016
The weeks go by, but are not all the same at Olympique de Marseille, far from it. This week in particular. The hours that followed the Olympians' defeat at Bastia (SCB 2-1 OM) set the stage for a turnaround for this season.
It all began with the departure of Vincent Labrune, Michel and Franck Passi for Zurich, where they had a meeting with the OM's primary shareholder, Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, that had been scheduled for several days. At the same time, the players took the plane to Marseille When they arrived they were met by around 30 Olympians fans, primarily from the group Fanatics. Steve Mandanda spoke with several of them as his partners looked on. The discussion was carried out with profound mutual respect and ended with encouragement from the fans to the players. It was not an attempt to overwhelm them, but more to remind them of the importance of excelling, to carry the club's flag proudly through to the end of the season.
After resting on Monday, the players began training again the next day, under Michel's guidance.
At the very end of the day on Tuesday, Margarita Louis-Dreyfus made a statement on the OM's official website, reiterating her confidence in the team and its manager, reaffirming her "profound attachment to OM" and requesting the support of the fans to help the club finish the season on a high note.
At the beginning of the afternoon on Friday, at the Robert Louis-Dreyfus Center, six Olympians (Thauvin, Cabella, Rolando, Djadjédjé, Batshuayi and Mendy), accompanied by the deputy General Manager Luc Laboz, Franck Passi, and Michel, who was eager to take part in the meeting, met with representatives of nine fan clubs.
Once again, the discussion, which was necessary given the club's athletic situation this season, seemed constructive. The fans, after having delivered some home truths, reaffirmed their support of the team and promised to back them against Bordeaux, but on the condition that they deliver a flawless performance in the field. The players and the coach got the message.
On Thursday the training session was calmer than on the preceding days when the Olympians had been heckled, and already they were showing strong intensity and plenty of concentration, even more so on Friday. The conversation from the day before had really hit home. Michel also had some harsh words for his group, and at the end of the session told them they had better be as involved in the match as they had been in the practice.
The words that were exchanged throughout the week among different segments of the club helped reunite the OM as a team. The 45,000 tickets, including season tickets, that had already been sold on Friday were the best illustration of this.
The Olympique de Marseille is unquestionably at a turning point in this season. With everyone's support, the Olympians have it in them to make up for the pain of a disappointing season and to finish it with honor and pride.
With the Coupe de France still within reach, the OM can yet save the 2015-2016 effort.
The final chapter of this recent saga may play out this week, even if only the Olympians' performance on Sunday against Bordeaux sets the pace.