Olympique de Marseille coach Marcelino announced to his players on Tuesday his imminent departure from the Marseille club, according to L’Equipe. The lackluster start to the championship for Marseillais and the elimination against Panathinaikos in the third qualifying round for the Champions League contributed to accentuating the climate of tension around OM, with groups of supporters even demanding resignation of President Pablo Longoria, who still supports the coach he chose. Even if nothing is official yet, we offer you five ideas to replace Marcelino at the head of OM:
And why not ? Still without a bench since his departure from Real Madrid in 2021, “Zizou” has had no experience other than the White House. His time at Real was an undeniable success, and it seems unlikely to see him coach a lesser club. But OM is a club apart, and “Zizou” is a character apart. Even if he never played in the Marseille jersey, a strong history links the club and the player. Zidane even reportedly refused the job of PSG coach this summer. The Marseille project is on the right track since Pablo Longoria took over as President, OM has regained the podium and ambition on the transfer market as well as on the pitch.
Even if their means remain limited, whether to recruit or to find a salary agreement with Zinédine Zidane, nothing prevents the Phocaeans from dreaming of the arrival of the Madrid legend. Obviously, seeing him join a club that does not play in the Champions League during the season would be a huge surprise; but Zinédine Zidane perhaps has a unique opportunity to carry out a major project, and to open a romantic chapter in a way that modern football no longer does.
A new Spanish coach on the Phocaean bench? Julen Lopetegui looks like the ideal candidate for Pablo Longoria: an Iberian coach with a well-defined playing philosophy but capable of adapting to his squad, and with experience at the highest European level. The Basque has a background as a trainer and knows how to deal with young people, but he also briefly coached La Roja, with whom he obtained superb results, and Real Madrid with less success.
Above all, it comes from two successful experiences. Between 2019 and 2022, he led Sevilla FC to three qualifications for the Champions League, each time finishing 4th in La Liga. He won a Europa League title in 2020 and qualified for the round of 16 of the Champions League in 2021. Last season, he joined Wolverhampton during the season to save the English club from relegation, which he achieved with brilliantly by finishing 13th, before leaving Wolves for disagreements with his management.
The Spanish technician is capable of developing his teams in different patterns (4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2 mainly) and adapting to his squad, always adopting a game of patient possession with high pressing when losing the ball. Julen Lopetegui relies a lot on his players in the corridors to create differences, and this is precisely one of the strengths of OM, with offensive full-backs (Clauss, Lodi) and impactful wingers (Harit, Sarr, Ndiaye ). His playing philosophy but also his ability to adapt make him the ideal candidate for Pablo Longoria’s OM, who likes to regularly reshuffle his squad and recruit versatile players.
Ruud van Nistelrooy
In the little book of great players with equally brilliant coaching careers, the name of Ruud van Nistelrooy would not be an anomaly. Like Zidane, he too has only known one club as head coach. After having worked as an assistant to the Netherlands selection and in the youth categories of PSV Eindhoven, he took charge of the Dutch club at the start of the 2022-2023 season and immediately won the Dutch Super Cup. He had a superb first season as head coach, leading his team to second place in the championship ahead of Ajax and winning the Dutch Cup, again facing Ajacides. He left his post to everyone’s surprise at the end of the season due to disagreements with his management and staff.
His profile as a young coach with an offensive playing philosophy could catch the eye of Pablo Longoria. Even more than through its results, it was through its play that Ruud van Nistelrooy’s team stood out last season. Tactically flexible (4-4-2 or 4-3-3 most often) but with strong principles, the Dutch coach adopts pressing similar to the individual marking of Igor Tudor, with a less aggressive middle block nonetheless. He likes his team to come out of their camp by projecting themselves quickly forward, with numerous offensive runs from the midfielders, and from the full-backs who help in the build-up by taking the place of the runners in the midfield. This offensive philosophy could succeed and above all please OM supporters. Ruud van Nistelrooy could, however, be less conciliatory than others with the numerous transfers that Pablo Longoria is accustomed to, he who did not appreciate the departure of Cody Gakpo to Liverpool in January 2023 for example.
It’s difficult not to put Marseillais Christophe Galtier in this list. His last experience dates back to last season at PSG, and that might not please Marseille supporters. Furthermore, despite the Ligue 1 title, the eliminations in the round of 16 of the Champions League and Coupe de France remained as failures. He has the advantage of being French and of having succeeded in clubs of a similar level to OM, such as Lille where he won the title. Not sure, however, that his conservative game pleases Pablo Longoria, and not sure that he himself accepts not having a say on recruitment and transfers.
Above all, he has setbacks with the law which could quickly cool down the Marseille management and not please OM’s followers at all. Indeed, a preliminary investigation was opened against him in April for suspicion of “discrimination based on an alleged race or affiliation with a religion” during his time at OGC Nice. But he remains a big name in France, and after being briefly linked to Olympique Lyonnais, it would not be surprising to see him announced on the OM side.
The Austrian coach is still without a job, and he has the profile to please Pablo Longoria. He was a serious candidate for the German selection after the dismissal of Hansi Flick, but it is Julian Nagelsmann who should ultimately be named at the head of the Mannschaft. Oliver Glasner rejected the approaches of Olympique Lyonnais, not convinced by the project and the potential of the Rhone squad, but could be tempted by the adventure with the Marseille rival. He made his debut in Austria, coaching SV Ried then LASK Linz. After a good two-year stint with Wolfsburg, which he qualified for the Champions League during his last season, he joined Eintracht Frankfurt.
Another successful experience for the Austrian, who goes so far as to offer a European coronation to the German club by winning the Europa League in 2022, after having notably eliminated FC Barcelona. The results in the championship are more contrasting, with an 11th and a 7th place. His team often plays in 3-4-2-1 with a very direct game, and an offensive animation close to that of Igor Tudor with highly demanded pistons and versatile offensive players. Spectacular offensively, Glasner’s Eintracht could nevertheless be fragile in defensive transitions. His direct approach could appeal to Olympian managers and supporters, and his CV looks like that of a good candidate for the position.
Other avenues to explore
Among the other candidates that we could find in Pablo Longoria’s shortlist, former RB Leipzig Ralph Hasenhüttl and Jesse Marsch have a playing philosophy that could appeal to the Spanish President. Coaches like Graham Potter or Marcelo Gallardo, who already refused the job this summer, seem a little too renowned for OM at the moment. Philippe Montanier has shown in the past that he can build a team that wins and plays well, at Real Sociedad but also at Toulouse. Finally, Julien Stéphan and Lucien Favre could be tempted by the Marseille challenge if they are contacted, even if Pablo Longoria has so far not shown any interest in French coaches.