It’s been in the pipeline for several weeks now, but Lille have finally officially parted company with head coach Marcelo Bielsa, thus bringing to a conclusion one of the most torrid, protracted sacking sagas in recent memory.
Bielsa was installed by new Lille owner Gerard Lopez back in May, the Chilean intended to be the beating heart and smoking nostrils of a brand new club ethos, with the impetus on turning Les Dogues into a petri dish for honing effervescent young talent that, in turn, would be eventually sold on at a vast mark-up.
However, as part of the revolution, Lopez also brought in technical director Luis Campos from Monaco and, pretty much from that point, the pair (Campos and Bielsa) had been at loggerheads, much to the detriment of performances on the pitch.
In what was supposed to be a renaissance season, Lille are currently 18th in Ligue 1 having mustered just five wins from their first 17 outings. They finished a perfectly respectable 11th last year.
Rumours circulated a couple of weeks ago that Bielsa was in trouble at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy after taking an unauthorised trip back to Chile to visit an ailing friend (former assistant Luis Bonini) one last time before he passed away, leading to Lille suspending their coach in the aftermath of an embarrassing defeat against newly-promoted Amiens.
It was also reported that Lille were unwilling to stump up the €9.5million it would take to buy up Bielsa’s remaining contract and were therefore attempting to find reasonable grounds on which to sack him.
The week after the aforementioned suspension was metered out, Bielsa was summoned to meet with Lille officials for “an interview prior to a possible dismissal”. The Argentinian’s lawyer subsequently confirmed that his client refused to attend the meeting, leaving the club with precious little option but to swing the axe…
🔴 Arrivé au terme de la procédure engagée à l’encontre de Marcelo Bielsa, le LOSC informe qu’il a rompu le contrat qui le liait à son entraîneur. pic.twitter.com/mAgBVOp5zf
— LOSC (@losclive) December 15, 2017
At least the bulk of the melodrama is over, save the almost inevitable appeal/legal action.
As for Bielsa, he’s now on a wretched run of previous jobs (the nuclear fallout at Marseille, the two days he spent as Lazio boss).
His reputation as a coach is certainly still strong enough to entice interest from around the world, but you feel his reputation as an expensive, tetchy, obsessive compulsive might be starting to prohibit him from the upper echelons.