As the club prepares to meet Ajax this Thursday, September 21 in the Europa League, its leaders, questioned by the supporters, published a press release in which they announced “to take some time to reflect”. And formalized this Wednesday the departure of the coach.
It is an Olympique de Marseille without direction and without a coach, no more administrative than sporting, who flew on Wednesday to Amsterdam and their entry into the Europa League against Ajax. An improbable situation which has its source in a meeting, Monday September 18 in the evening, between the leaders of the supporters’ associations and four leaders of the Marseille club: the president, Pablo Longoria, his right-hand man and sporting director, Javier Ribalta, the director financial officer, Stéphane Tessier and the general director, Pedro Iriondo.
The demands of OM supporters then stood – and still stand – in one word: outside. The fourth. What they are accused of, according to the Team: of “scheming” (the word will be dropped) at all levels, of favoring one agent circuit rather than another (a way of saying that Longoria is there in a personal capacity ) and more generally the intention is not to infiltrate the club with loyalists, which creates a gap between OM and its local biotope. Still according to the sports daily, the coach, Marcelino, is mentioned: “If you do not leave, you and your DH coach [aujourd’hui R1, anciennement division d’honneur, dans les tréfonds des championnats amateurs, ndlr]you will see”, would have said Rachid Zeroual, boss of the South Winners and eternal kingmaker (as well as head cutter, the French coach Didier Deschamps, firmly invited to leave in 2012, knows something about it) at the Olympique de Marseille .
“Attacks” and “defamation”
Which raises the question of the pressure tactics used against management. Tuesday September 19, Eurosport Spain reported death threats. They were dismissed by the participants in the meeting, from one camp to the other. Certain representatives of the supporters’ groups, on the other hand, clearly suggested that they had “files” likely to embarrass Longoria and Ribalta, thus attacked on their management and on a moral level, which can be compared to an attempt blackmail (if you stay, we decide) or, as desired, an exchange of good practices in the purest tradition of the Marseille club.
Partially heard, for the moment, by the leaders of OM. Tuesday, late in the evening, the club published a press release announcing on the one hand that the four men will not be in Amsterdam on Wednesday, but also that they are taking “time to reflect” before fully returning to their functions respective, which looks very much like a half-withdrawal. “The threat of war [sic] was brandished Monday by associations of supporters against the management as long as it does not resign […], also specifies the press release. The OM board cannot accept personal threats. Its members cannot tolerate personal attacks and any form of unfounded public defamation. A relationship based on intimidation cannot guarantee the minimum acceptable conditions so that the club’s board can continue to invest in the transformation of OM.” A relatively timid defense, resembling more of an escape than anything else, no criminal prosecution for threats being invoked, for example.
Combativeness in the storm
Close to Longoria, whom he knew at Recreativo Huelva around fifteen years ago, the Marseille coach, Marcelino, explained to his group on Tuesday that he had finished with Olympique de Marseille, both by loyalty to his president and because he notes that the context, highly flammable, is not conducive to achieving the required level of performance. He would have been reframed Tuesday afternoon by Longoria himself, the latter demanding more combativeness from him in the storm. This was before the press release announcing the withdrawal, certainly still relative, of the manager and his team. This Wednesday, Marcelino did not board the bus which took the players to Marignane airport.
In the afternoon, OM published a new press release: “The events of September 18 do not allow Marcelino and his technical staff to exercise in good conditions the function for which they were hired. As a result of this deplorable situation, Marcelino and his staff will not continue their mission at Olympique de Marseille.” And the club regrets that this departure is made “for extra-sporting reasons”.
Updated at 2:40 p.m. with the departure of Marcelino