Following Olympique de Marseilles’ 1-0 defeat to Caen in their opening French Ligue 1 game, manager Marcelo Bielsa tendered his resignation, with reports suggesting CEO Philippe Perez and lawyer Igor Levin altered his previously-agreed contract extension as ordered by club owner Margarita Louis-Dreyfus.
Bielsa has been hamstrung at Marseilles due to the ongoing players sales each summer, but he enjoyed an impressive debut season and was willing to extend his stay in France. However, a perceived “lack of trust” has caused him to promptly depart the Stade Vélodrome this summer to the surprise of many. The coach then released a statement following his exit.
“We reached an agreement to extend the contract for 2016-17, and I have since been thinking everything was cleared up. But last Wednesday, I was called in to meet with the CEO (Perez) and attorney Igor Levin (Louis-Dreyfus’ legal representative) and they informed me that they would like to adjust some points of the agreement we had previously reached,” he said.
“It was after this meeting that I’d reached my decision. I rejected important offers to continue at Marseille because I was very interested in this project, but today I cannot accept this unstable situation brought on by the move to change the terms of the contract. Working together demands a little bit of trust and now we do not have that.”
Bielsa has had a tough overhaul to see to, with Marseilles having lost some key players in the last 12 months. Mathieu Valbuena, Lucas Mendes, Jordan Ayew and Morgan Amalfitano have been offloaded in Biela’s first campaign at the club, while Giannelli Imbula, Dimitri Payet, André Ayew, André-Pierre Gignac and Rod Fanni left the side this summer.
The 60-year-old head coach was appointed at L’OM in the summer of 2014, leading the side to 4th in his debut season. However, the French club will be looking for a new manager after losing Bielsa, and took a parting shot at their ex-coach for the manner of exit.
“The board of Olympique de Marseille did everything, but under no circumstances can OM be held prisoner to the demands of someone who places their personal interests well above those of the institution. Marseille is imbued with unique values and possesses a sufficiently rich history to refuse to subject itself to the law of a single man.”
It’s a sad way for the two parties to end association, and there doesn’t look to be any reprieve for Marcelo Bielsa at Olympique de Marseilles.