French giants Marseille and Paris St-Germain both announced managerial changes on Tuesday, adding further spice to one of the most intriguing seasons in recent French football history.
Marseille, who lead Ligue 1 on goal difference from Bordeaux, were first off the mark when they announced that French World Cup hero Didier Deschamps would take over from Eric Gerets.
The Belgian has guided the southern giants to within striking distance of their first league crown since 1992, but he announced last week that he would leave, citing a lack of support from club owner Robert Louis-Dreyfus.
Hours later bitter rivals PSG followed suit by confirming that Paul Le Guen’s contract will not be renewed when it expires at the end of the season.
Sport daily L’Equipe reported earlier on Tuesday that Le Guen’s exit had been hastened after he clashed with chairman Sebastien Bazin over control of the club’s transfer policy.
Both Gerets and Le Guen had been expected to seek pastures new at the end of the campaign, but the news of their departures arrives at a pivotal time in the season for their success-starved clubs.
With four games remaining leaders Marseille, who won their last league title in 1992, are one goal ahead of Bordeaux, while PSG are a point behind Lyon in fourth place in the race for Champions League qualification.
Lyon coach Claude Puel, meanwhile, could pay the price for the seven-time champions’ poor season with his own job in the summer.
Deschamps, 40, remains France’s most decorated player, having led Marseille to the 1993 Champions League title – their last major honour – before skippering his country to the 1998 World Cup on home soil and the European Championship two years later.
His first foray into coaching saw him guide Monaco to a shock appearance in the 2004 Champions League final and he then led Italian heavyweights Juventus to promotion from Serie B following their demotion for match-fixing.
He will take over from Gerets in June on a two-year contract.
“The choice of Didier Deschamps, whose career both as a player and a coach prove his merits, was a natural one to make,” said a statement from Marseille.
“The priority remains to do everything possible to try to win the championship. In this respect, the club knows it can trust Eric Gerets, an accomplished professional, whose determination and skill will be decisive in the title race.”
Le Guen, 45, is another former France international, who made 343 appearances for PSG as a defender.
He began his coaching career at Rennes but established his reputation in a three-year stint at Lyon during which he led the side to three league titles.
After a disastrous eight-month spell in charge of Scottish giants Rangers, he returned to PSG in January 2007, narrowly sparing the team from relegation in his first two seasons and securing the League Cup in 2008.
“Paris St-Germain today announce their decision not to renew, after almost three years of collaboration, the contract of their coach Paul Le Guen that expires on June 30 2009,” read a statement on the PSG website.
“The name of his successor will be announced in the coming weeks, and Paul Le Guen will continue with his full duties until the end of his contract.”
Valenciennes coach Antoine Kombouare has been tipped to replace Le Guen, who can console himself with the thought that he won’t be the only big-name coach stepping onto the French managerial merry-go-round this summer.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!