Whistled by his supporters at the start of the season, Igor Tudor has built an efficient and shimmering OM. And seduced a Vélodrome stadium filled with each match.
«Tudor, outside“. This is what, in essence, all Marseille supporters demanded even before Igor Tudor’s first official match on the OM bench on August 7th. 90 minutes and a final victory against Reims later (4-1), the Vélodrome stadium put away its hostility. Harbinger of the months to come, because at the dawn of a round of 16 of the Coupe de France against PSG (Wednesday, 9:10 p.m.), OM are a respectable 2nd in the Ligue 1 standings. More than results, they savor a polished game and a passion worthy of the popular fervor that he anchored to the body.
With hindsight, it is almost a feat for Tudor, appointed coach on July 4, three days after the unexpected departure of Jorge Sampaoli, to still be in office. The Croatian, snatched from Hellas Verona in Italy, “arrived in a context that was unfavorable to him“, underlines Mourad Aerts, journalist follower of OM since 2017.
The arrival of Tudor “experienced as a lack of ambition”
Sampaoli enjoyed a popularity rating on the Old Port: the Argentinian assumed his affiliation with Marcelo Bielsa, who left an unforgettable memory in Marseille. His sulphurous character married with the passion around the club, and the results (2nd in Ligue 1, semi-final of the Europa League Conference) followed.
His departure caused misunderstanding. The arrival of Tudor, 44 years old and a meager CV in the coaching suit, too. “The public experienced it as a lack of ambition», needle Mourad Aerts. On August 1, several players, including Dimitri Payet, asked to speak with the president, Pablo Longoria. The Tudor method did not pass, in particular with Payet, darling of the Vélodrome who will start the season on the bench. What explain, in part, the whistles. “The fans are always right, we play for them. There is no football without fans“recalled with elegance Igor Tudor.
Tudor has internalized the whistles of the Velodrome
The Croatian was also targeted because of a failed start to the transfer window by OM. “We made him pay a little for the errors of his direction, Mourad Aerts brush. And since Pablo Longoria is very popular, he is not blamed for much, so Tudor was the ideal culprit.Except that OM started their season with 6 wins in 7 L1 matches. Whistles? What whistles?
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«It can change very quickly“, recalled, in a burst of laughter tinged with lucidity, Tudor, not resentful for a penny. “I was made to understand internally that he was not that affected by the criticism, where other coaches in the past at OM could have been much more affected» Confie Mourad Aerts.
A sharp increase in attendance at the Vélodrome
The season continues. OM won, but above all, OM played well. Much better than under Sampaoli, with whom “on the feeling at the stadium, we were closer to Pep Guardiola’s bad teams than to Bielsa’s OM“says Mourad Aerts. “With Tudor, we have something much more dynamic, we have individual marking, we have goals, we have big bursts of energy.“Without having the charisma of a Bielsa, Tudor has offered Marseille its best football since the departure of “El Loco” in 2015. It is no coincidence that the Vélodrome stadium is packed.
At mid-season, the Professional Football League (LFP) shared the attendance figures in Ligue 1. OM, whose stadium is by far the largest, was logically on the throne: 62,449 spectators, an increase of 12% compared to mid-season 2021-22. The fill rate? 94%, an increase of 7%. The word quickly circulated in the streets of Marseille: something is happening at the Vélodrome. Against Nice last Sunday (1-3 defeat), 65,234 people filled the stands, establishing the 3rd highest attendance in club history at the Vélodrome.
We felt that the balance was very precarious, that the slightest mistake could tip everything over to the dark side.
Mourad Aerts, journalist for So Foot and FC Marseille, on the link between Igor Tudor and the public at the Vélodrome.
OM started their season with a bang before a storm warning: three defeats in a row in October and elimination from the Champions League, and even from all European competitions, on November 1. A stricken periodnew whistles against Tudorrecalls Mourad Aerts. “We felt that the balance was very precarious, that the slightest mistake could tip everything over to the dark side.»
A victory over rival Lyon on November 6 (1-0), before the World Cup, soothed hearts. Behind, the Tudor players have crunched 2023 with full teeth (8 straight wins between L1 and the Coupe de France), with a demonstration against Toulouse on December 29 (6-1).
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Enough to buy a credit consumed on the last two matches at the Vélodrome. Monaco shook up OM there and fully deserved the point of a draw on January 28 (1-1) before Nice confirmed OM’s difficulties at home during the big meetings on February 5 (1-3).
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When it was time to host PSG in a razor-sharp match, OM’s enthusiasm went down a notch. “There’s nothing to heal, however judged Tudor at a press conference on Tuesday. Honestly the team is in good shape, I really like how the team plays, how they run, how they create.Tudor’s mission? Put an end to a series of 9 matches without a win at home against the rival of the capital. If he succeeds, for sure, the supporters will have adopted him, at least, until the end of the season.