Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credit: Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP 15:13 pm, June 01, 2023

Igor Tudor and Olympique de Marseille are over. The coach of OM announced his departure this Wednesday noon after spending a season in the colors of Phocaeans. Appointed in July 2022 after the departure of Jorge Sampaoli, the technician has nevertheless succeeded in his season with the club that occupies third place in the Ligue 1 standings.

Not even a year and then goes: Igor Tudor will no longer be the coach of Olympique de Marseille next season, a departure that comes after a season finished in 3rd place and which confirms the extreme instability of the Marseille club. The decision was announced Thursday by Marseille President Pablo Longoria at a press conference held alongside the Croatian technician. "We accepted and respected the wish of our coach Igor Tudor not to continue the adventure next season," said the manager.

The Croatian technician, appointed in July 2022 to replace Argentine Jorge Sampaoli, had met Pablo Longoria on Tuesday and discussions continued Wednesday with his agent. The management of the Marseille club then hoped to keep Tudor one more season, even if the case seemed already heard.

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"An honor"

"It was an honour to spend a year at such a club, to be part of this grandiose family, with tifosi that we see little, an energy in the city that we see little," Tudor said on Thursday. I leave the club in a better situation than when I arrived, in many ways and I leave proud." The story between Tudor and OM was basically not very well born. It had indeed begun with a torrent of whistles falling from the stands of the Velodrome to greet his name during the 1st day of Ligue 1 against Reims, without it being clear what Tudor was guilty of, apart from a difficult but anecdotal campaign of friendly matches.

Ten months later, the Croatian giant is leaving, not much more popular than in August, without having done anything to make itself more lovable. Adept at a minimalist communication towards the outside, he considered from the beginning that his results and the football played by his team spoke for him.

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Too many missed turns

Sometimes exciting and in line with what Longoria had announced at the beginning of the season, a modern and physical football, Tudor's game has given its best fruits at the beginning of the season and the return of the long winter break linked to the World Cup, including a victory against PSG, expected for more than ten years at home. Driven by the talent and aggressiveness of Alexis Sanchez, OM then pleased, with the energy of its pistons, the aggressiveness of its central defenders and its constant activity, in the races and pressing.

But OM missed too many turns (against Tottenham in the Champions League, Annecy in the Coupe de France, Lens in the league) and ended up wearing out, the management of the Croatian sometimes leaving perplexing. Intransigent, he cut himself off from many players, such as Dimitri Payet, Eric Bailly, Mattéo Guendouzi or Gerson before them, to the point of making believe that the Marseille squad, although solid and expanded, was too limited. He also paid for an inoperative winter transfer window, with the arrivals without impact of Vitinha, Ruslan Malinovsky and Azzedine Ounahi (injured).

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A difficult context

But his departure also confirms the harshness of the Marseille context, where stability seems impossible. Since the beginning of the Frank McCourt era in October 2016, five coaches have already sat on the Olympian bench: Rudi Garcia, André Villas-Boas, Nasser Larguet for a short interim, Jorge Sampaoli and Igor Tudor. Only Garcia stayed more than two years and Villas-Boas, Sampaoli and Tudor all chose to leave Marseille.

While OM's season will resume on August 8 or 9 with a 3rd preliminary round of the Champions League, Longoria will have to quickly find a successor to the Croatian. The Spanish manager and his director of football Javier Ribalta are convinced that Tudor's profile, focused on work, physicality and direct play, was the right one and they may aim for a technician with similar ideas. Tudor could return to Italy, the country where he has spent almost his entire career as a player and as a coach. He was still presented this Thursday in Tuttosport as the first choice of Juventus in case of departure from the Turin club of Massimiliano Allegri.