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Grenoble finally off the mark



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What did UE Engordany of Andorra, FK Milano Kumanovo of Macedonia, Ankaraspor of Turkey and Grenoble of France had in common before last Sunday? They were all teams from European top divisions, who hadn’t picked up a single point so far this season. And yes, there actually is a football league in Andorra.

Grenoble broke their duck with a 0-0 draw at Stade Louis II in Monaco. An unlikely point you can say, as AS Monaco have started this season very well with their left winger, Brazilian Nene, leading the league’s scorers chart.

But the team from the Alpes, Grenoble, have came close to their first points for a few matchdays now. Last week they were unlucky having a man sent off in the first half when they were dominating a lacklusture Lille side, who won in the end largely thanks to wonderful saves from their goalkeeper Mickael Landreau. The week before, Nancy only won 2-1 thanks to a 89th minute penalty. As a matter of fact, most of Grenoble’s defeats have come only by a single goal.

At this point last season, they had picked up 19 points and finished 13th in the end, 7 points from the drop zone, having by far the worst attacking record of the league with only 24 goals scored all season. And it looks to be the problem again this season, only this time around the defense, which recorded 14 clean sheets last season, hasn’t been quite up to the task.

The Japanese company Index Holdings owned club, made quite a few changes in the summer.

Loan deals with Albert Baning (PSG), Eddie Grandin (Marseille), Larsen Touré (Lille) expired. Daniel Moreira, who’s capped by the French international team three times, joined Boulogne. Bulgarian international Hristo Yanev returned home to Lovech. In came, Serbian bad boy Daniel Luboja, bit of a risk for a small club like Grenoble as Luboja hasn’t performed since his days at Strasbourg in 2000-2004. Though the striker so far has justified the risk, having scored 4 goals.

Experienced Japanese midfielder Daisuke Matsui joined from Saint Etienne. As did midfielders Nicolas Dieuze and Jimmy Juan. And along Matsui, two other players were signed from Saint Etienne. Experience was sought after, but the success last season was down to the enthusiasm of the youth by the youngsters on loan.

The start this season is the worst in the history of the French top division. The previous record was held by Stade Brestois, who currently play in Ligue 2, who picked up 2 points from the first 12 rounds in 1979/1980. Brest finished that season overwhelmingly on last place with 15 points. Grenoble’s so to say personal best came from season 1962/63. After 12 rounds, the club had 4 draw points. In the end they reached 28 points and finished 17th, but at that time four teams were relegated, so the year 1892 founded club were relegated.

It looks like the same fate is ahead this time. There’s already a massive 11 point cap with the saving 17th place. If improvement isn’t imminent, relegation might already be a reality for Grenoble by Christmas. Maybe a managerial change is needed. Current manager, Bosnian Mehmed Baždarević, lead small town club Istres into Ligue 1 in 2004. Next season the club posted recent seasons record of only 25 goals scored in the league, which was broken last season by his current club. You have to wonder if Grenoble weren’t better off with a more attack minded coach.