2nd July – Marc-Antoine Fortune

Marc-Antoine Fortune is currently stuck on 98 professional career goals and will be hoping that one more team gives him a chance to reach 100..

The forward started his career at French lower league side Angouleme where he broke into the side during the 1999-00 season, scoring three times in 10 appearances. He helped the club reach the third tier of French football and he was linked with moves to Ligue 1 sides. In 2002, Lille took a chance on Fortune.

While at the club he found himself playing out of position on the left wing and struggled with injuries to make a real impact. After just one season, Fortune joined Ligue 2 side Rouen on loan. He ended the season with 10 goals and for a third summer in a row he was on the move.

Stade Brest had a decent season with Fortune scoring 10 goals in 33 games and finishing 9th in Ligue 2. It looked as though he had settled, however when Eredivisie side Utrecht showed interest, Fortune could not turn down the opportunity. While in Holland, Fortune struggled to settle and the death of David Di Tommaso meant he could not show his talent.

Before his teammate died he had been looking quite impressive but after 13 goals in 56 appearances, he felt he needed to return to France. In January 2007, Nancy signed the striker and began really well, scoring six goals in 17 league games. After this he was largely used as an impact substitute and began to feel frustrated so in January 2009 he joined West Brom.

MAF Nancy

He became a fan favourite and scored on his debut in a 3-0 win over Middlesbrough and despite only playing half a season he was named the Supporters Player of the Year. He finished his loan spell with five goals and convinced Celtic to buy him.

MAF WB

After a good start with goals against St Johnstone and Rapid Vienna in the Europa League it turned sour, especially after Tony Mowbray was replaced by Neil Lennon so at the start of the 2010-11 season he returned to West Brom. He spent a further three seasons at West Brom, scoring nine goals as the club battled to stay in the Premier League. During this time, he also had a loan spell at Doncaster Rovers.

MAF WA

His next move was to Wigan Athletic and he featured heavily during their Europa League campaign and ended the season with 49 appearances. He lasted one more season and signed a one year deal for Coventry City. After four goals in 25 games he was on the move again to Southend United following a successful trial. Last season he scored four goals.

The final word can go to former Celtic and West Brom manager Tony Mowbray. “Marc is a quality player and he was a privilege to work with. Some of his play in the second half of the season was phenomenal, you can see the impact he made. He is a team player.”

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28th June – Fabien Barthez

Fabien Barthez is a World Cup, European Championship, Champions League and Premier League winner yet his abilities as a goalkeeper were still questioned.

The Frenchman had a fantastic career and should be up there with the best goalkeepers ever and if some of his previous coaches are to be believed then he was actually a better outfield player than in goal.

Barthez began his career at Toulouse, making his debut in 1991 against Nancy. He established himself as the club’s number one, playing 26 times during the 1991-92 season. At the end of this season he joined Marseille and would go on to win the French Cup and Champions League in his first campaign and in doing so becoming the youngest keeper to win the competition.

Barthez Marseille

After this the club went through many controversies and would suffer relegation to the second division. Many expected Barthez to leave, however he stuck around and helped the club win the title. He stayed until 1995, when he joined Monaco and gained even more success by helping the club win Ligue 1 in 1997 and 2000. During this time he also helped France win the World Cup and European Championships.

Barthez Monaco

Manchester United signed Barthez for £7.8 million in 2000 and would quickly become a fan favourite for his remarkable reaction saves. He helped the club win the Premier League title but he did still show some problems in his game, most notably in an FA Cup tie with West Ham as he stood there with his hand in the air appealing for offside as Paolo Di Canio scored

The start of the 2001-02 season was a struggle for him as high profile mistakes against Deportivo and Arsenal led to some wanting him to be dropped from the team. However, manager Alex Ferguson backed Barthez to bounce back. The following season ended with another league title but once again he had some ups and downs and he was heavily criticised especially after defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League, which turned out to be his last game for the club as he was dropped for Roy Carroll.

Barthez MU

With the signing of Tim Howard, Barthez knew his time was up at Old Trafford and returned to Marseille on loan. His form returned but in February 2005 he allegedly spat on a referee and was given a six month ban. After his ban and 102 games for Marseille it looked as though his career was over as he announced his retirement from the game.

On the 17th December 2006, Barthez was convinced to sign for Nantes but after a decent start he was involved in more controversy, involving an altercation with a fan, that forced him to leave the club.

The final word can go to Alex Ferguson. “Fabien is a World Cup winner and not only has the personality but the vast experience that is required at Manchester United. Apart from his obvious goalkeeping skills, he has the personality to play on the biggest stage.”

22nd October – Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger probably thought he was not going to have much to celebrate on his birthday as his side trailed 1-0 against Anderlecht but two late goals secured his side the win.

The 65 year old has done a lot for the English game and will always be a legend at Arsenal but up until last season he had been coming under pressure for not delivering a trophy for a long time. However, he has never changed his style and although that has caused frustration from some supporters he has always done the right thing for the club.

Wenger didn’t become a professional until the age of 28 at Strasbourg but even then he wasn’t really considered a player as he did a lot of work managing the youth teams and reserves, restricting him to just 11 league appearances in three years. After he moved on to be assistant manager at AS Cannes in 1983 before becoming manager at Ligue 1 side Nancy a year later. After a good first season where the club finished 12th he struggled and the club were relegated at the end of the 1986-87 season. A few months later he would join Monaco.
Wenger Stras
In his first season he helped them win the title but after this he would become known as a nearly man, leading the club to runners up positions in the league and also in the Coupe De France and the European Cup Winners’ Cup. After a poor start to the 1994-95 season, Wenger was sacked on the 17th September with Monaco in 17th place. In January 1995 he made the move to Japan and became manager of Nagoya Grampus Eight. He had a successful spell at the club, winning the Emperor’s Cup and being named the J-League Manager of the Year. In August 1996 Arsenal sacked Bruce Rioch and Wenger took over winning his first match away to Blackburn Rovers. Arsenal went on to finish third in the league.
Sport. Football. pic: July 1987. England internationals Mark Hateley, left, and Glenn Hoddle with the Monaco Coach Arsene Wenger, the players recent signings for Monaco.
The following campaign everyone knew Arsene Wenger as he led the club to the Premier League and FA Cup double after being 12 points behind league leaders Manchester United at one point. The following seasons were difficult as he again became a nearly man, finishing second in the table and reaching the FA Cup and UEFA Cup final but could not land another trophy. In the 2001-02 season Wenger won the FA Cup and Premier League double for the second time, securing the title at Old Trafford. It looked as though they were going to retain the title when they went eight points clear but lost out on the title. However, they did lift the FA Cup again after beating Southampton.
Wenger Arsenal
The 2003-04 season will forever be in history after his side won the title by going the whole season unbeaten. This run lasted 49 matches but was ended by Manchester United on the 24th October 2004. They could not recover and ended the season in second place but won the FA Cup. This would be his last trophy for a long time as he just could not compete in the league and this was largely down to Wenger falling into the same trap. He would sell a top quality player and replace them with a player that had a lot of potential, unfortunately when they reached their full potential they were then sold. Defeats in the Champions League final and two in the League Cup were tough to take, however they still managed to finish in the top four every season. On the 22nd March 2014 he took charge of his 1000th match as Arsenal manager but they lost 6-0 against Chelsea. They recovered from this and on the 17th May they finally won a trophy after beating Hull City in the final of the FA Cup, making Wenger a five time winner.

The final word can go to long time rival Alex Ferguson. “Over the years we enjoyed some fantastic battles. I always enjoy watching Arsene’s sides. Perhaps the biggest compliment I could give Arsene is that I could never be anything other than competitive with my rival for 17 years.”

13th September – Francois Zoko

Blackpool picked up their first point of the season and were helped by birthday boy and one of their summer signings Francois Zoko to finally get their season started.

After coming on as a substitute in the 72 minute, Zoko ensured that the score remained 0-0, however he will be hoping to make more of a positive impact going forward in the coming weeks. Everyone knows about Blackpool’s problems during the summer and they did not even have a full squad with only a few days to go before the start of the season. But with their first point on the board they should gain more confidence.
Zoko Nancy
Zoko started his career at French club Nancy and spent four years with the club, scoring eight times in 70 league appearances before moving onto Stade Laval in the summer of 2004. He played fairly regularly for the club over the next two seasons but he did not hit the back of the net for his liking, with him only scoring nine times.
Zoko Laval
In 2006 he then moved to Belgium and signed for Mons where he started building his reputation and was starting to be linked with bigger clubs. After 55 games and 11 goals he decided he wanted to try a new challenge in a new country and joined Turkish club Hacetteppe Spor Kulubu. However, a lot of off field problems meant he never lived up to his potential and ended up moving back to Belgium with KV Oostende. He made an instant impact at the club and in the second half of the season he played 11 times, scoring four goals and assisting a further five.

Ahead of the 2010-11 season Zoko joined Carlisle United on trial and after impressing he signed a one year deal in July 2010. He made his debut in a 2-0 win over Brentford and after leaving the field he was given a standing ovation and was praised by the management and his teammates at the club. It did not take him long to be linked with other clubs which led to Carlisle giving him a new contract after less than 10 games.

He stayed at the club for two seasons and after scoring double figures in all competitions in both years he decided on the 6th June 2012 that he wanted to play at a higher level and did not sign a new contract. He was described as one of the most talented players to have ever played for the club in recent years.
Zoko CU
On the 3rd August 2012 he signed a two year deal with Notts County. He made his debut against Crewe and also scored in 2-1 win for his new club. He only had to wait three days for his next goal as he scored against Hartlepool United, he could not keep up this goal rate but he still managed seven goals in 39 appearances. At the end of the season his contract was cancelled by mutual consent and he joined Stevenage on the 4th October.

Once again he scored on his debut in a 2-1 win over MK Dons and then scored twice in his next game in another 2-1 victory, this time over Brentford. He was a consistent goal scorer for the club and he ended his only season at the club with 16 goals in 40 games which convinced Blackpool that he could make it in the Championship and signed the attacker.

He has so far played five times but has been unable to find the back of the net.

The final word can go to the manager that brought him to England, Greg Abbott. “I know how big an impact he has made here. He is an important player for what we are doing and has been very impressive so far.”