Soccer

Andre Villas-Boas suspended by Marseille ahead of likely firing after publicly offering resignation

Olympique de Marseille continue to be engulfed by chaos after coach Andre Villas-Boas was suspended after announcing at a press conference on Tuesday that he offered his resignation to the leaders of the Ligue 1 club.

In a communique titled ‘OM announces the dismissal of Villas-Boas,’ the decision to separate with the Portuguese tactician was detailed by the leadership.

“This decision has become unavoidable given the recent and repetitive actions and attitudes that have seriously harmed OM and its employees who devote themselves to it on a daily basis,” read the statement. “The remarks made today during a press conference in regard to Pablo Longoria, general manager in charge of football, are unacceptable.

“His exceptional achievements should not be questioned and, on the contrary, were welcomed by all during this winter transfer window which was affected by an unprecedented crisis. Possible sanctions may be taken against Villas-Boas following disciplinary proceedings.”

Marseille have also begun reaching out to possible replacements. CBS Sports soccer insider Fabrizio Romano reports that Maurizio Sarri was approached, although he is unlikely to pursue the job.

Villas-Boas witnessed fanatical supporters storm the Commanderie training facility on Saturday in an attack that saw defender Alvaro Gonzalez hit in the back by a projectile and the traumatic event ultimately forced the postponement of the Championnat clash with Stade Rennais.

However, despite last weekend’s shocking scenes, the 43-year-old insisted that his decision has nothing to do with that and everything to do with the late January transfer window signing of Olivier Ntcham on loan from Celtic FC.

“I said no to Ntcham — he was not on our list,” said Villas-Boas. “I was not for the move. I learned about it in the press this morning. I have offered my resignation to the club’s leadership. I am asking nothing of OM regarding my contract. I simply do not agree with the sporting policy.

“Being unaware, a gentleman’s agreement was broken. I have decided to offer my resignation. I want to leave due to a dispute over sporting policy. I tried to identify the best replacement for (Aston Villa’s Morgan) Sanson. I cannot accept this situation as a professional. It is unacceptable.

“This club has already gone through this, that and the other transfer-wise. We continue and I await the response of the club’s leaders. I am focused on Lens — the team of the year.”

Villas-Boas stressed that his decision has “nothing to do with Saturday’s events” although he did admit that the wild experience has been “hard to live with” and his press conferences have been incendiary at times over the past few months as the pressure grew and turmoil deepened.

“The leaders have asked me for time,” added the former Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Porto, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Shanghai SIPG (now Shanghai Port) coach. “I am focused on Lens. I respect Frank (McCourt), but something has broken.

“It is not how I work. I am waiting. The answer might be no and in that case we continue.”

Villas-Boas led Marseille to second in last season’s Ligue 1 table before its premature close due to COVID-19, but he has been unable to build on that and OM are currently ninth in the table and 10 points off the top four — although with two games in hand — after recent home defeats to Nimes Olympique and RC Lens and Le Classique against bitter rivals Paris Saint-Germain coming up this weekend.

Ntcham, the player at the heart of this latest Marseille controversy, hails from the Paris region and has not hidden the fact that he grew up supporting PSG — something that will not be lost on OM’s sensitive supporters.



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