Following the departure of Didier Deschamps and the loss of several dependable players, Olympique de Marseille were perceived as a club in decline. However, gripped by a sense of loss, the nine-time French champions have pulled together to make their best-ever start to a Ligue 1 campaign.
Despite their exertions in midweek, when they fought back to salvage a 2-2 draw with Fenerbahçe SK in the UEFA Europa League, OM kept their domestic momentum going on Sunday. In doing so, they became the first team since AS Monaco FC in 1960/61 to triumph in each of their first six league matches.
Morgan Amalfitano's 33rd-minute winner against Évian Thonon Gaillard FC extended their lead at the Ligue 1 summit to four points; coach Élie Baup is already looking at the bigger picture. "To have 18 points at this stage of the season is a brilliant feat that will serve us well later in the season when we could face more testing moments," said the 57-year-old, who has already surpassed his task of restoring order after a chaotic campaign and a tenth-placed finish last term.
Alou Diarra, César Azpilicueta and Stéphane Mbia may have sought pastures new, but the spine of a team that did the double over Borussia Dortmund before eliminating FC Internazionale Milano in last season's UEFA Champions League still remains.
"Since the beginning of the season we have shown a really special spirit," said captain Steve Mandanda. "There is a togetherness which has made this run possible. The season may only be six games old but I'm a very happy captain at the moment."
The resurgence of rivals Paris Saint-Germain FC has only served to fuel OM's insatiable desire for success, meanwhile, and rekindled the faith among a proud set of supporters. "We are making a lot of people very happy and, as players, this is something we enjoy doing," said midfielder Benoît Cheyrou. "Even when we are not playing very well, we are still winning."
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