Marseille coach Andre Villas-Boas suspended for offering to resign


Marseille suspended coach Andre Villas-Boas on Tuesday for handing in his resignation because of a conflict with the club’s board over transfer decisions. Villas-Boas offered to stay in charge if his resignation was not accepted but Marseille reacted angrily to his public remarks. 

At a news conference, the former Chelsea and Tottenham manager disagreed with the club’s decision to hire Olivier Ntcham on loan from Celtic without letting him know. “The mercato (transfer window) ended with the arrival of a new player,” Villas-Boas said. 

“It’s a decision that is not made by me. I learned it this morning from the press when I woke up. It is a player for whom I said no.” 

Marseille boosted its midfield by grabbing Ntcham on the final day of the window on Monday. Villas-Boas added he was also informed very late of the departure on loan to Hertha Berlin of Serbian winger Nemanja Radonjic. 

“I do not agree with the sporting policy,” said Villas-Boas, speaking on the eve of Marseille’s game at Lens. 

“This club has already lived through two or three years of nonsense in terms of transfers.” 

Marseille said Villas-Boas’ comments targeting Pablo Longoria, the director in charge of football, were ‘unacceptable’ and raised the possibility of sanctions against the Portuguese coach following a disciplinary procedure. After Villas-Boas guided Marseille to second place last season and an automatic Champions League place in his first season in charge, fans hailed him for the feat with limited resources while praising the fighting spirit he instilled in the side. 

But his team exited Europe’s top competition in the group stage this season, and Marseille has slipped to ninth place in the French league following three consecutive losses. 

Villas-Boas is on a two-year contract which ends in May and has already said he will not renew it. Firing him would involve paying a considerable amount of compensation but he made clear he does not want any money from the nine-time French champions. 

“I don’t want anything from Marseille. I don’t want any money. I just want to leave,” he said. “I don’t want to be sacked, I want to leave for sporting divergences.” 

His offer to resign also came after angry supporters forced their way into the club’s training complex last weekend, hours before a French league game against Rennes. The league postponed Marseille’s evening match at Stade Velodrome deeming it unsafe while tensions were high. No new date has been set. 

But Marseille’s next home game this weekend will fall under closer scrutiny since it is against rival Paris Saint-Germain. Villas-Boas dissociated his decision to leave from the violent incidents. 

“It’s not the first time that a player who is not a coach’s choice arrives at a club,” he said, “but that’s not the way I work.”

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Sagar Biswas

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