OM will not have lingered too long. After the boiling behind the scenes between the management and the supporters, Marseille avoided the problem of leaving the pot on the fire too much when finding the successor to the resigning Marcelino. A week after the Spaniard’s departure, another strong character will arrive in the person of Gennaro Gattuso. The former Italian midfielder should sign up for one season plus one as an option according to L’Équipe, and become the club’s fourth coach in two and a half years. Gattuso would sign his return to a major club through the front door, but in the heart of a very perilous situation.
Olympique de Marseille at least knows what path it is taking. After exploring the Christophe Galtier trail, and touching on the idea of a return of Igor Tudor three months after slamming the door, it was a new unexpected file which won the day. Marseille president Pablo Longoria this time attempted the synthesis of his last two coaches: a technician with banter worked by the calcio coupled with a short-lived ex-Valencia. But with Gennaro Gattuso, he is the typical profile of a strong manager who arrives at the helm of a boat that is seriously rocking, as OL had thought about before preferring Fabio Grosso.
Grip and guts
The premature elimination in qualifying for the Champions League, then the tensions off the field ended up rubbing off on the Marseille team, doubt intruding exponentially until the departure of Marcelino, then a slap in good and bad form. due form at the Parisian sworn enemy (4-0) last Sunday. With Gennaro Gattuso, OM seems to have set itself the main course of finding a strong framework, carried by the voice and charisma of the Transalpine.
Be careful though, Gennaro Gattuso the coach is not the exact extension of the watchdog he was as a player, particularly at Milan. More than a barker, the 2006 world champion has earned the reputation of a protector for his group, close to his players, taking full responsibility for the failures of his teams. A lightning rod in short, he who was rather the type not to shy away from tension during the first part of his career with the ball at his feet.
His uncompromising but not passionless personality has, on paper, enough to match the overflowing fervor of the Marseille context. And if his career has so far been punctuated by adventures with no real future (eight clubs in ten years), it is also because he has been frequently, almost always in reality, called upon to put out a fire rather than to maintain a flame. From his express promotion on the bench of a post-Berlusconi and penniless Milan, to the Neapolitan volcano in full mourning for Diego Maradona, passing through the quagmire of Valencia… Gennaro Gattuso has become accustomed to complicated contexts. With more or less success. If he had managed to turn around the Rossoneri, before coming very close to qualifying for C1 with AC Milan, then with Naples, his adventure in Valencia came to an end with Che left in 14th place in La Liga.
The game to wake up the Vélodrome?
In the Boot, he sowed as many promises as he sometimes generated frustrations. Even boredom. Precisely what OM supporters deplore today, capsized by the madness of Sampaoli and Bielsa, emboldened by the intensity of a Tudor, and more than annoyed by the neutrality of Marcelino at the start of the season, at image of the 0-0 without relief and under the whistles against Toulouse. If he is not a monolithic coach, I am not sure that Gattuso fits perfectly with the Vélodrome’s desire to go “straight to the point”.
His 4-3-3, his preferred system, relies above all on the rigor of his defensive block, frequently low, always very axial, but not focused on great intensity when losing the ball. In 2020-2021, Naples was in the middle of the table in terms of the number of passes left to their opponents in the offensive phase. Gennaro Gattuso’s teams do not abandon possession, but start with a slowly built game from their defense, to better attract the opponent towards the ball. The sight of OM completely suffocated in their camp on Sunday facing counter-pressing from Paris Saint-Germain should not reassure him. No more than the profile of a Pau Lopez not really a goalkeeper-returner, 13th goalkeeper in L1 in number of successful short passes, 17th in the percentage of successful long passes.
Offensively, OM have been slipping since the start of the season, despite significant recruitment in this sector this summer (Aubameyang, Sarr, Ndiaye, Correa, etc.). 12th attack in Ligue 1 with six goals in seven games, Marseille is not apathetic, quite the contrary. Under Marcelino, the Marseille team was the one which attempted the most shots in the championship since the start of this exercise, even after the debacle at the Parc. But also one of the least precise with the third worst percentage of shots on target, and the biggest outlay in all of Ligue 1 in terms of the ratio of goals scored in relation to “expected goals” (-3.6 goals less than expected) . Exactly the same problems with second-hand conversions from which Milan suffered, then Gattuso’s Naples (15th in goals per shots on target with the Rossoneri in 2018-2019, 16th with the Partenopei in 2019-2020).
It is now up to him to twist the numbers and find his account with a team that was not built for him. It is difficult to see, for example, in Valentin Rongier, Jordan Veretout or Geoffrey Kondogbia the “successors” of box-to-box midfielders capable of bringing danger in the last 20 meters of opponents like Franck Kessié (7 goals in 2018-2019) or Piotr Zielinski (8 goals and 11 assists in 2020-2021) were under his command. His tactical touch and his adaptation to this OM still raise questions, his managerial qualities much less so… Gennaro Gattuso will have to use all his weapons to convince.