Marseille is a club in turmoil.
Their coach Andre Villas-Boas said on Tuesday that he had offered his resignation, citing a disagreement over the Ligue 1 club’s sporting policy, and has now left the club in acrimonious fashion.
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Marseille signed midfielder Olivier Ntcham from Celtic on transfer deadline day, but the former Chelsea boss told reporters he had informed the club he did not want him brought in.
Marseille, who were knocked out in the group stage of the Champions League after finishing second in the league last season, are ninth in Ligue 1 and 16 points behind leaders Lille with two games in hand.
With the French club in a toxic state, how did it get this bad and what does the future hold now Villas-Boas has left? We asked Eurosport France’s Cyril Morin all about it.
What was Villas-Boas’ relationship like with the club president?
Not great if you want the polite answer. Awful, if we are honest. Last summer, when president Eyraud decided to fire sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, who was the one that brought AVB to Marseille, Villas-Boas was already very close to leaving.
The fact that his players were supporting him and that the Champions League was at stake made him stay. But his relationship with Eyraud was in really bad shape after that. Today, he explained that he has “a lot of respect for Jacque-Henri Eyraud” etc., but “they attempted to disrespect my professionalism, I can’t let that pass”.
Image credit: Getty Images
What have been the reasons for Marseille’s poor form this campaign?
Villas-Boas admitted that “talking about results, that’s my fault”. Last year, they managed to finish second in the league thanks to the suspension due to Covid-19, but all their matches last year weren’t that great.
Dimitri Payet, who was on fire last year, saved them in a lot of situations. The players were so passionate about AVB that he decided to stay. But there were few big reinforcements in the summer transfer window and they looked out of their depth in the Champions League. That sunk the team’s confidence but also raised the fans’ expectations. The star players aren’t at the required level right now (Payet and Thauvin, mostly) and it looks like this group lacks character. Also, the absence of the fans could explain their poor performances. In a full Stade Velodrome, you can’t behave like the players have in their most recent games.
Why is president Eyraud disliked so much? We saw the protests at the weekend…
He represents the disconnect from the fans. Every time he speaks, he looks like a modern ‘président directeur general’ but he is never really focusing on football or what the club means to the fans.
As an example, in December, in a seminar, he talked about the “danger and the risk” of having fans of the club as employees. It may seem normal for entrepreneurs to talk like that but when you are president of OM, you can’t say that. Every speech he makes is always about the football of the future, the importance of being trendy but rarely about the team itself.
WATCH: Footage of Marseille fans storming training ground
He was the main target of what happened on Saturday. And his response was considered aggressive amongst many supporters.
He said: “There are two visions that are in conflict now. There’s a vision of the OM we know, which have done great things, won titles, known a lot of success, but also the one including chaos, the one who knew 20 coaches in 20 years.
“We are trying to develop a transparent OM, an open OM, an OM that can’t accept this behaviour.”
What was Villas-Boas’ motivation for wanting to leave Marseille so badly?
He was tired of this club and seemed to be desperate to leave. He tendered his resignation a few weeks ago, after a loss at home against Nimes. It seemed that he was seeking the exit door. It looked like he couldn’t really influence his team any longer, and with his communication he lost some of the big players. But his issue with the club’s overall direction was clearly the main reason.
Now AVB has quit who might be his replacement?
Ernesto Valverde and Lucien Favre were mentioned in recent days but they reportedly turned down offers. And it’s hard to believe that OM could afford either of them. So we don’t know yet. What we were sure about was that AVB was going to leave. There was no chance he could stay after that press conference.
Why didn’t he like Olivier Ntcham?
Nothing personal I guess. He was just not the player he chose to replace Morgan Sanson. He explained that he said no to his profile during the press conference and learned that he was coming to OM through the press. So, for him, that was too much to accept.
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