first team / The off season

L ... as in Le Mans

Published on the 13 June 2006 à 16:30 by SR

Le Mans Union Club 72 had already had a brief Ligue 1 experience in the 2003-04 season where they finished 19th and were quickly relegated back to the second division.

On July 31, 2005 Le Mans made its eagerly awaited return to France’s top flight for the 2005-06 season. To welcome them back, Olympique Lyonnais made the trip to the Stade Léon-Bollée for the opening match of the season… br /> For his first match in Ligu 1 with OL, Gérard Houllier got off to a winning start thanks to goals from Wiltord and Carew… 37 league matches later and the two teams would meet again to bring the curtain down on the season.

In between these two clashes was a season full of interest, joy, fun and good fortune, with a sprinkling of records to boot… but also a few painful moments, the empty feeling and heart-breaking eliminations. “I good team never loses twice in a row,” repeated Houllier throughout the campaign, to boost his side often referred to a steamroller, a monster with a Lion’s appetite, a Lyon side that amassed points at a startling rate. OL had the hunger from day one right to the very end… goals, goals and more goals. A side bent on making history, a side to finish the 2005-06 season in style…

Les Rouge et Bleu hit top spot in Wk.5 and never let it go. And, in front of 40,426 fans at the Stade Gerland they celebrated the end of the season in astonishing fashion. From dream to nightmare and back again… Grafite put on a dampener on proceedings after just 15 minutes with the opening goal for the visitors before Fred (with a hat-trick), Cris (with his back), Juninho (free-kick), Wiltord (solo), Tiago (header) and Govou (with the right) had the fans singing on a night they will never forget…

On May 13 2006, Lyon officially entered the history books by registering the biggest attack in the history of Olympique Lyonnais, while Juninho forced his way into the club’s all-time top ten scorers list. Le Mans, a great start and a better finish…


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