What has gone wrong for Rudi Garcia and Marseille?
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AS Monaco has grabbed all the headlines for its uncharacteristic struggles in Ligue 1 this season and rightly so. But Marseille has a seat on the same table, too... The 2018 Europa League finalists have been a shadow of themselves this term and haven't been able to repeat the form that saw them make positive headlines last year.
The club's manager, Rudi Garcia, is a man loaded with experience. Having held different positions at the top level in the game including managing some of the very best teams, Marseille did no wrong in recruiting him. In his time at the club, he has proved that decision right as he has made a mark already.
Leading a side to the final of a European competition is no mean feat. Jurgen Klopp can testify to that. But in modern football, consistency is the name of the game. And if a manager is only as good as his last game, Garcia is not amongst best coaches in the world at the moment.
But it’s not just about the last game. The French giants have been dismal under the former Lille and Roma gaffer this season. From the European scene where the club was humiliated picking up just a point in six games, to an embarrassing ouster from the French Cup at the hands of fourth-division side Andrezieux in January, to a devastating league form that has seen the team win just three matches in the last 12. It's been nothing short of abysmal.
In fact, Les Phocéens have suffered back-to-back defeats in the last two league fixtures thereby relegating the side to a 10th-place position on the table. With fourth and fifth-placed teams St. Etienne and Montpellier going on stronger as the campaign wears on, it's almost certain, European football next time around is out of reach.
Rudi Garcia (suspended)
Balotelli (not qualified)
The match will also be played behind closed doors...
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Suffering from a severe lack of goals amongst other impediments, the club decided to recruit Mario Balotelli from Nice on a six-month loan deal. The former AC Milan and Manchester City striker revived his career in France under former manager Lucien Favre. But as the French manager departed for Borussia Dortmund and was replaced by Patrick Vieira, speculations emerged concerning the controversial player's future. He stayed on with Nice in the summer but was unable to forge a good relationship with the new boss. Unsurprisingly.
Marseille's need for what the player can give upfront (when things go well) means Garcia was ready to take a chance. However, despite scoring on his debut with the club, he could not prevent a loss to inform Lille. A successive loss has led to a drop to mid-table. At a time when the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon are fighting for silverware in Europe's elite competition, the most successful club in France is moving backwards.
Something has to give.
No doubt, Garcia has done a good job in his last two years at the club. But that is becoming a distant memory given the current state of things. The squad at his disposal remains largely the same as it was last term. With no depletion, the players are supposed to improve as they continue together. Instead, there has been a steady decline. It appears the manager is having difficulties motivating his team. If that's the case he needs to go. That would be especially so if the team loses again to Bordeaux this evening.
The alternative is to keep faith with him based on his past performance and back him heavily in the summer to reinforce the squad. From defence to midfield and attack new additions will be required. Players like Balotelli and the ageing Dimitri Payet cannot be the star men in a team that wants to compete with Paris Saint-Germain or even Lyon for the best of the rest position in Ligue 1.