Marseille president Pablo Longoria’s transfer strategy under criticism following crisis talks 

According to L’Équipe, Pablo Longoria stands at the heart of the crisis in confidence that has rapidly enveloped Olympique de Marseille. The club president has long been a focal point for the frustrations over the state of the club in lieu of the rarely-seen owner, Frank McCourt. 

Criticism of Marseille’s transfer strategy under Longoria has been a particular point of contention with the fans, as his forthright approach that no player is unsellable, has created an environment where players are sold shortly after they join. 

Renan Lodi was recruited in the summer and was experiencing a solid season with the club but was sold by winter and two left-backs were brought in to replace him (Quentin Merlin and Ulisses Garcia). 

Merlin and Garcia look like fine signings but they come with the risk of disruption. Not simply because they are competing for the same role, but because they will need time to adjust to new surroundings and a different kind of pressure. 

Marseille’s significant incoming and outgoings  

Longoria was promoted from sporting director to president during the middle of the 2020/21 season when Jacques-Henri Eyraud stepped down following supporters storming the club training ground

Longoria’s first notable act was to bring in Jorge Sampaoli as manager which helped settle the frustrations that had been building in that season. In his first summer window as president, he looked to support his appointment by bringing in 11 arrivals and making 14 departures to try and build a squad in Sampaoli’s image. 

However, Sampaoli by the end of the 2021/22 season had quit, and Igor Tudor was brought in to replace him, bringing with him an entirely new tactical approach, so 16 players arrived and 15 left. Tudor only lasted the one season, and then Marcelino and his unique approach came in, and 11 players arrived and 13 left. 

The club lurched from each tactical set-up constantly building a new system and squad on the fly for managers that could not last for more than a short spell at the club. And with each appointment, Marseille raced to their next idea, and each next idea clashed with what came before it so there was this feeling of the team violently jerking from one concept to the other. 

Is there a succession plan in place?  

The departure of Marcelino was out of the hands of the Marseille board who were thought to have desperately tried to convince him to stay after a disastrous meeting between the club hierarchy and representatives of the Marseille supporters groups. 

However, the decision to replace Marcelino with Gennaro Gattuso again points to fears that there is little planning for the future in place at the club. Gattuso’s style of management contrasts entirely with that of his predecessor and suggests there is no commitment to a certain playing style. 

This is concerning to the supporters and has created a worry that the club do not have a succession plan in place for their managers, despite appointments rarely lasting more than a full season with the team.

GFFN | Nick Hartland

More European Football News