Europe 1 with AFP // Photo credits: Olaf KRAAK / ANP / AFP 22:44 p.m., September 20, 2023, modified at 22:45 p.m., September 20, 2023On the eve of its entry into the Europa League, this Thursday, September 21, on the field of Ajax Amsterdam, Olympique de Marseille has sunk a little deeper into the crisis Wednesday, with the departure now confirmed coach Marcelino and a management that has taken a step back in the face of the anger of some of the supporters.
On the eve of its entry into the Europa League on the field of Ajax Amsterdam, where Jacques Abardonado will sit on the bench, Olympique de Marseille has sunk a little deeper into the crisis on Wednesday, with the departure now confirmed of coach Marcelino and a management that has taken a step back in the face of the anger of some of the fans. "It's sure that it's a hell of a turmoil ...", admitted in a press conference in Amsterdam the Marseille striker Pierre-Eymerick Aubameyang.
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Jacques Abardonado is acting
At his side was Jacques Abardonado, Marseillais by birth, former player of the club and ex-coach of all youth teams. The departure of coach Marcelino, who arrived less than three months ago, having been confirmed in the early afternoon, it is Abardonado who will be on Thursday on the bench of the Johan Cruijff Arena for OM's debut in the Europa League. "Pancho" was inducted interim coach in tandem with David Friio, the club's sporting director. "It is a pride for me to represent this club," he said, acknowledging "sadness" in the face of the crisis experienced by OM.
After this press conference quickly dispatched, the Marseille players trained, in an apparently rather relaxed atmosphere. But contrary to usual, none of the main leaders were present at the edge of the lawn. Only Jean-Pierre Papin, ambassador of the club, was there, sunk into a chair in the stands. But behind the scenes, the situation remains extremely unclear and the future of president Pablo Longoria and his three main collaborators (director of football Javier Ribalta, chief executive Pedro Iriondo and chief financial officer Stéphane Tessier) is still uncertain.
>> READ ALSO - Football: coach Marcelino leaves Olympique de Marseille
While the reading of the nebulous statement published Tuesday night by OM had left perplexed as to the future of Longoria, Ribalta and the others, a source with knowledge of the file explained that the four men had decided to "stand back" to "reflect". In the entourage of Frank McCourt, the American owner of the club, it was necessary to deny this "withdrawal", ensuring that the management was "in place" even if, in fact, none of its members is present in Amsterdam.
"We give unequivocal support to the board," the McCourt clan also assured. According to a source close to the case, the four leaders targeted would have in any case been "shocked" by the virulence of the words of the supporters present and their maintenance at OM remains extremely uncertain. "At no time have we made death threats or asked for Marcelino's resignation," Rachid Zeroual, head of the South Winners, and Christian Cataldo, boss of the Dodger's, told AFP on Wednesday.
Petition for Longoria
"We want to meet the main shareholder who is Frank McCourt. He must come as soon as possible to listen to what we have to say to him, "now claims Rachid Zeroual. In 2021, the anger of supporters had swept away Jacques-Henri Eyraud, Longoria's hated predecessor. But the context is now totally different, Longoria maintaining a good popularity rating with a large part of Marseille supporters. A petition in favor of his maintenance in the presidency had collected Wednesday evening more than 42,000 signatures and, on social networks, several groups of OM supporters abroad have also taken up the cause of the Spanish leader.
If the main groups of supporters (Winners, Dodger's, CU84, Fanatics, MTP, Club des Amis de l'OM, Handifan Club OM) display a united front, the base is probably quite divided, infinitely more in any case than in the Eyraud era. Thursday in Amsterdam, they will be anyway more than 2000 ultra at the stadium to encourage their team in this time of crisis, as if nothing had happened. "The trip is confirmed, we will be there to support our OM," one of the participants in Monday's meeting told AFP on Wednesday.