The title is the motto of Olympique de Marseille. It means ‘Straight to the goal’, which is increasingly how I’m encouraging the team to play in the last third. We are back to our old ‘flying 4-4-2′ with the wingers advanced, and under orders to drive straight at goal if they can, or straight for the touchline if there is a cross on. I’d say a good third of the goals we score are on the break, with the strikers loitering deep in enemy territory and trying to spring the offside trap.
As well as a neat motto, Olympique have a coveted star above their club crest, marking them as the only French club to win the Champions League. It might just be a teensy-tiny bit tarnished by the rampant bribery and corruption which saw them stripped of the French League title the year after, but they persuaded the ‘uncorruptables’ of Uefa to let them keep it, so who are we to cast doubt?
The first leg of our last-sixteen clash proved to be incredibly tense, and required an outstanding volley from Steven Fletcher in the 89th minute to square the game at 1:1. Not a disaster by any means, but the second leg was in Marseilles – and the referee was Italian.
Alors, 0-0 it finished, and out we went on away goals. Jack Wilshere got his second yellow for the following heinous offence:
Well. You’ve got to cut that sort of thing out of the modern game, don’t you?
To be fair, the card might have been for calling the referee a cheating bastard, which was kind of what I was thinking, so I let him off with a warning. In the replay, you can even see the ref running over to the linesman to give him his cut.
Ah well. Back in England, we consoled ourselves with our league position – (Third, and only a whisker behind the Mancunians), and also the not insignificant fact that we got our hands on our first piece of domestic silverware since 1975:
We got pretty lucky with the draw, and only faced premier league opposition in the final. It was a gritty match, and it took penalties to bring it home. It’s only the League cup, but its a sight for sore eyes: