All of this was done under a backdrop of hardship; a workmanlike squad that lacks true talent and representation failing to make any kind of meaningful impact before he arrived; two-star players, one injured for the season (Florian Thauvin) and one with a history of underperformance (Dmitri Payet); and a club that haemorrhaging money and unable to give any meaningful re-enrollments.
It left Marseille in a tough position, one which AVB has managed admirably. However, as the 2020-21 season began and an early title challenge faded, the coach found himself under increasing pressure. Poor league performances matched results, and the club matched a competition record for games without a win in the Champions League. It left his relationship with the board, who have come under massive fire, strained to the point of seemingly no return.
The loss of friend and Director of Football Andoni Zubizarreta at the end of last season had already made continuing hard. Now? It looks what pushed AVB over the edge was a dual signing situation.
What has caused Andre Villas-Boas to resign from Marseille?
Two major reasons have caused AVB to look to the exit – both involving signings. The first issue was the exit of Nemanja Radonjic, who left without his consent to join Hertha Berlin. This was seen as a betrayal by the coach; he had lost a limited player who he had worked hard to turn into a competitive part of his squad. His exit, without his knowledge or consent, was a major black mark.
The second was the signing of Olivier Ntcham, a talented but frustrating midfielder from Glasgow Celtic. Arriving on loan, Villas-Boas has seen the signing of a player he vehemently denied wanting as the straw that broke the camels back. At his press conference on Tuesday, AVB said: "I don't want anything from Marseille. I don't want money. I'm waiting for an answer, it could be no and then we would continue. I don't want any money; I just want to leave.
“The transfer window finished with the arrival of a new player. A decision which wasn't taken by me. I had nothing to do with this decision. In fact, I learnt about it in the press this morning. It is precisely a player for whom I said no [to signing]. He was never a player on our list."
Having already gone through a massive training ground bust-up with fans, Marseille looks to be a club in crisis. The exit of one player, though, and the arrival of another, looks to have pushed the best asset the club had – their coach – to the exit door. For all the brief optimism around the most storied club in French football, it appears that the ‘circus days’ are back at the Olympique Velodrome for another while yet.