LOSC Lille are under new ownership and have Marcelo Bielsa at the helm, and the mercurial Argentine has been given a licence to thrill by his ambitious bosses, who hope to turn Les Dogues into Ligue 1 Conforama’s entertainers.
If LOSC Lille’s season so far is anything to go by, they are well on the road to doing that. The stunning 3-0 defeat of FC Nantes on the opening day was followed by a defeat by the same scoreline at RC Strasbourg Alsace where two outfield players went in goal following Mike Maignan’s 63rd-minute sending-off.
“We want to promote some spectacular winning football, we don’t want to play backwards just to win or tire opponents,” Lille’s Director General Marc Ingla told The Ligue 1 Show on BeIN SPORTS ahead of Sunday’s game against SM Caen. “We think that is dull!”
“We probably have decided to be extremists in the football we want to play,” new president Gerard Lopez added. “We’re willing to take risks, just because we’re willing to play nice football. And it’s maybe an extreme view of football but that’s the one that we all share in the project.
“And in that sense it’s maybe different from other projects that are maybe more balanced in terms of approach… that’s not what we’re looking for, so in that sense it’s a very different project.”
The risk-taking has also extended to the transfer market. Experienced heads, such as Rio Mavuba, Marvin Martin and Sébastien Corchia have left the club this summer while promising talents such as Ezequiel Ponce, Edger Ie, Luiz Araujo and Thiago Maia, all in their early 20s, have joined.
After last season’s 11th-placed finish, Lille’s loyal and passionate fans will be hoping Bielsa can build a side that — while not quite on the scale of the domestic double the Eden Hazard-inspired side of 2010-11 achieved — can challenge for a podium finish.
For now, though, the club’s new bosses have their sights more on putting smiles on supporters’ faces rather than adding silverware to the Stade Pierre Mauroy trophy cabinet.
Lopez: ‘Bielsa is ideal’
“How do you define success? You could say, it’s a cup, it’s a league and so on, but the way we define it, is enjoyment,” explained Lopez. “It’s trying to fill up the stadium, trying to create an atmosphere. If you do that, the rest of the stuff that happens, kind of happens naturally.”
The new owners have a vision, but Bielsa and sporting director Luis Campos are the ones putting it into action on the pitch, the latter’s keen eye providing the former with the tools to implement the thrill-a-minute, forward-thinking football Lopez and Ingla have in mind
“He preaches that day in day out, doesn’t hide behind anything else. That’s why people like him, admire him, and listen to him,” said Lopez on the former Olympique de Marseille boss’ approach to the game, which fits snugly with his own.
“To him the game of football is the most important thing. If this was a church, he would be the ideal person to carry the message.”