By Paul Douglas Grant
Ligues 1’s third week has found AJ Auxerre continuing a particularly uninspired opening. With three games under their belt AJA has amassed three ties, add to that unimpressive streak their Champions League loss to Saint Petersburg and you have the makings of some disappointed supporters. And while the supporters mope and hope anxiously for a big win at the return Champions League match, the pundits are wondering what the hell is going on, these are not the Auxerrois of last season, and thus far it is certainly not the Ireneuzs Jelen of last season.
Finishing third, just under Marseille and Lyon in the 2009-2010 Championnat, Auxerre had a great season that put Ireneusz Jelen (photo)–that Polish striker with a eurohawk that puts Marouane Chamakh to shame–on the map. Pundits are now watching Jelen’s performance and are quickly calling attention to a seeming lack of control and an inability to be decisive with the ball. This certainly differs from the Jelen of last season who may not have scored with each possession but was anything but indecisive. Of the three matches this year Benoit Pedretti is leading in goals and it wasn’t until the match against Valenciennes that Jelen finally put the ball in the back of the net. After a rather tedious and uneventful first half the Valencienne Gaël Danic scored at 66 minutes into the game, and with a click-whirr response, as though having had enough of the critical commentary and the dull thud of the supporters’ doubt, Jelen equalized three minutes later.
Perhaps this is the goal Jelen needed to crack his footballers equivalent of writer’s block, or perhaps it is a blip on the temporal map of the 2010-2011 season. One noticeable difference this year at Auxerre is the lack of Daniel Niculae, who when paired with the Polish striker composed a ferocious attacking squad. Perhaps unfortunately for the Auxerrois, Niculae transferred to Monaco this year.
AJA will be playing Monaco next week. In the fateful words of the British editor in chief of an American film mag: could be great, could be a complete disaster