“How do you explain the departure of Jorge Sampaoli?
We’ve been talking for the last few weeks, the last few days. Our conversations were sincere, frank, and we took note that it was the best decision to separate us, to protect the club. It’s not easy to part with a good coach, a nice person. It’s really a matter of timing. The project has not changed since day one. It is a project for the future, of construction, to create a strong, competitive OM, which succeeds in a demanding atmosphere.
We know the expectations here, especially in a season where the club is in the Champions League. Now we have to think about what’s next. We must have hope, emotions. In Marseille, you have to have energy, give everything to expand the project.
Is Sampaoli’s departure linked to the club’s ambitions?
Everyone has the same ambitions. We have a strong base, that of a team that finished second in the Championship. So the transfer window is a bit like Christmas presents, we wait for them with a lot of emotions. This season, nearly a hundred names have already come out! I don’t think there’s a lack of ambition, it’s really a question of timing, of making sure things are sustainable, logical, coherent. It was not the right time to stay together.
On a personal level, is it a failure?
If there is sincerity, it is not a failure. We were able to look each other in the eye. We just had a different vision.
“It would be unfair for the next coach to end up with a team built for Sampaoli”
When Sampaoli arrived, you mentioned the need for normality at OM. But isn’t the normality, in this type of club, to have coaches who stay for a season, a season and a half, no more?
OM is an unstable club by nature. Passionate atmospheres are also unstable. How to build stability? This is still our project. For the sake of honesty, it’s better that we separate now, and not after the first Championship match in August when new players arrived, or after, next September.
It’s better to leave it at that, like friends, with a good relationship. A team must be built around a game plan, around a coach, around a mentality. We talked about it together: it would be unfair for the next coach to find himself in a team built for Jorge Sampaoli. It is a question of responsibilities for everyone.
Is his departure linked to a lack of resources?
The idea is to have economic stability, which the club has not had in recent seasons. A project is built on sporting strength and economic strength. This is how the level of competitiveness increases. We have a solid, committed owner, we have to provide continuity. How to develop the project, in what time frame… that’s the question that separated us, with Jorge. He left like a great man, giving up his last year of contract, as André Villas-Boas had also done at the start of 2021. Ditto for his staff. The conversations were heartfelt, as from day one his respect for the club is huge.
Do you have any leads for the coaching position?
We have already started working on the sequel, we have very clear ideas, fruitful conversations with candidates. We have a privileged track, a candidate in mind. We want to give character, in Marseille, it’s necessary, you have to know how to adapt to the context, and give an evolution to the game project here, to this already strong team. Last season we spent a lot of time with a lot of good players. We must increase this level of competitiveness. The team begins its preparation on Monday. Our goal is to have a coach by the end of this week.
What is shareholder Frank McCourt’s timing? What roadmap did he set for you?
His timing is that of the club! Frank is an owner who has invested a lot of money in the club, and continues to do so. We passed the DNCG, we passed the different levels with the football authorities, we have a coherent project. We have more means than last season, the participation in the Champions League with many more recipes, the capital invested by CVC, these are good news. We have more means and the possibility of retaining our important players. It is up to us to use them well.
Now you have to have patience, it will be a different, strategic transfer window. Selling players is important for the health of all clubs. We must have a football ”sustainable”. I come from Spain where economic control is very extensive. Clubs like FC Barcelona, Atlético de Madrid, Betis cannot register players because they exceed the wage bill ceiling. That’s the football trend. If we want to be ”comfortable”, we keep the same workforce and we end the next season in balance, great news. But we are demanding, we want to meet expectations, be more competitive. We will be active and creative in the market.
Do you feel in difficulty on the transfer window?
We lost two players, Bouba Kamara, at the end of his contract, and William Saliba, who came on loan from Arsenal. Last January, we recruited Samuel Gigot, from Spartak Moscow, an experienced defender, and we have just taken on a promising youngster, Isaak Touré. The transfer window is slow this summer. Last year, we had a lot of players at the end of the contract, it was an advantage to rebuild the workforce. »