Rudi Garcia – The man on a mission

 

Man on a mission

Every journey starts with the first small step. Lille OSC won the French Ligue 2 title and gained promotion back to the elite division (French Ligue 1) in 2000. Respected Bosnia coach, Vahid Halilhodzic revived the club’s fortunes in his four year stint which included their promotion back to Ligue 1.
Claude Puel took charge of the club in 2002 and steadied their status in the French top division. Les Dogues’ ambition leaped further with an eye on continental football.
Puel led Lille to UEFA Inter toto cup glory in 2004 thus qualifying for the UEFA cup and in the same manner, UEFA Champions League football was achieved in the 2005/06 season. Lille confirmed their status as a mainstay in the top division over the years despite their small financial resources.

Garcia and his captain

Former player Rudi Garcia replaced departed Claude Puel and was saddled with responsibility of keeping the standards set by his predecessor not withstanding the fact that he had to work wit a decent budget.
The former St. Ettienne coach started a rebuilding process at the club due to the loss of some key players in the wake of Puel’s exit at the club. Present captain, Rio Mavuba who was brought in from Villarreal Reserves helped the Metropolitan club to a fifth place finish in the 2008/09 season.
Mickael Landreau and mercurial Ivorien, Gervinho joined in the summer of 2009 from PSG and Le Mans respectively while Belgian starlet, Eden Hazard was promoted to the senior side. Les Dogues continued their progress under Garcia with a fourth place finish in the 2009/10 season missing out narrowly on the final UEFA Champions League slot.

With their steady and consistent improvement, Garcia’s Lille OSC have gone a step further this year with their attractive brand of football. In spite of being considered outsiders to the Ligue 1 title this season, his team have been in pole position in the league since last December and have maintained their momentum. Senegalese striker Moussa Sow who was signed from Rennes on a free has been the revelation of this campaign leading the forward charge with goals with able support from the flamboyant Gervinho and the highly rated wonderkid Eden Hazard. Captain Mavuba is the balancing factor in the midfield with French international centre half Adil Rami keeping it tight and solid at the back just as experienced campaigner Mickael Landreau is in goal for them.

Rudi’s mission to claim the coveted prize looks pretty close and at the same time, it seems so far away. The former RC Lens coach should be commended for the marvelous job done at a modest club like Lille with heavy spenders and previous champions Olympique Lyon, PSG and Olympique Marseille chasing. His technical, tactical and managerial skills has brought out the very best in the decent players at his disposal. With nine games left and a four point gap between Lille and defending champions Olympique Marseille who are in second place, Garcia has to instill poise and self belief in his lads in order for  LOSC Lille to win the French ligue 1 title for the first time since 1954.

Garcia's boys - good enough for the title?

 

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