By Naïm Beneddra
With star midfielder Yoann Gourcuff departing for rivals Olympique Lyonnais in the summer, Bordeaux were left with the tricky task of replacing the France international. The man chosen to fill those big boots? Valenciennes' 28-year-old playmaker Fahid Ben Khalfallah, a player who only made his debut in Ligue 1 three years ago.
It would be fair to say that the €5 million summer acquisition has endured a difficult start to his Bordeaux career, receiving some criticism from certain supporters of the club.
Ben Khalfallah is not alone. The side who were French champions back in 2009 have flattered to deceive this campaign, currently sitting in a disappointing 10th place with qualification for next season's European competitions slipping away.
The player himself is fully aware that he has yet to show his true potential in the blue shirt of Bordeaux but believes that he can turn his fortunes around.
"I'm a little disappointed [with my performances] because I honestly believe I can do so much more,” the Tunisian exclusively told Goal.com France. “As a team we haven't been good enough.
“I have learned a lot of things this season, especially how to cope with the mental side of playing for a big club. I am not happy with my season but I'll work hard to show my true self on the field.”
Bordeaux have struggled with consistency this season, often losing to weaker teams while picking up wins against sides near the top, something Ben Khalfallah is fully aware of.
"We have struggled with consistency but I think it's all in the head,” he said. “When you look at our results we have a pretty good record against the big teams but have lost a lot of points against smaller clubs.
“I think that the smaller clubs prepare differently when they play bigger sides because of the quality teams like us possess. We must address matches with a similar mindset and finish the season in the best possible way."
Bordeaux are currently in a dreadful run of form with no win in their last five games. Their season hit a new low a fortnight ago when they could only manage a goalless draw with bottom club Arles-Avignon.
The side were lambasted by the French media while also coming into the firing line of club president Jean-Louis Triaud, and Ben Khalfallah believes that the president's criticism of the team was justified.
"He [the president] is within his rights to criticise when things are not going well. He is the boss and he runs the club. When he is disappointed he has the right to fully express himself. A club such as Bordeaux should perform better than we did against Arles-Avignon."
Despite his and the club's poor campaign, the Tunisian playmaker, who has scored one goal for the club, is optimistic for the future starting with this weekend's encounter against Saint-Etienne.
"They are a team above us in the table by three points but if we beat them we will be level. Hopefully we can finish in sixth place, the final qualifying spot for Europe. Saint-Etienne are a great team but if we play like we did against Lille [1-1 draw] we should win."