Marseille coach Eric Gerets dropped a bombshell here on Tuesday as he told his title-leading players he would be quitting the club at the end of the season.
The Belgian coach – whose contract terminates at the end of June – has been at the club since September 2007 and has turned them into title contenders after years of failing to challenge seven-time champions Lyon.
On Monday the straight-talking Belgian had to deny he was not going to replace Jurgen Klinsmann after he was sacked from the Bayern Munich post.
Indeed Gerets, who turns 55 in May, refused to discuss his future – it has been claimed he is in advanced talks with Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal – saying it would prove a distraction for his players from their ambition of landing the title.
Gerets, a player on the Belgian side that reached the 1986 World Cup semi-finals where they lost to eventual champions Argentina, also this month denied he was a candidate to become the next coach of Belgium.
By announcing his departure before the end of the season Gerets is following the example set by Jacques Santini, who announced he was standing down as France manager to take over Tottenham before Euro 2004, affecting moral in the French camp in Portugal.
Marseille – who won the last of their eight titles in 1992 – lead Bordeaux by five points though the latter can reduce it to two should they beat Rennes on Wednesday.
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