Jean-Louis Gasset, from Ivorian disillusionment at the helm of a sinking Olympique de Marseille

Jean-Louis Gasset's rest did not last a month

Jean-Louis Gasset, from Ivorian disillusionment at the helm of a sinking Olympique de Marseille

Jean-Louis Gasset's rest did not last a month. Tuesday February 20, an hour after noting the departure of Italian Gennarro Gattuso, Olympique de Marseille (OM) formalized the arrival of the 70-year-old coach on its bench. In the announcement message, on the club's X account (formerly Twitter), the third Marseille technician of the season poses proudly alongside President Pablo Longoria, OM cap fixed on his head.

The former assistant to Laurent Blanc – from Bordeaux to Paris-Saint-Germain via the French team – arrives in Bouches-du-Rhône after a (very) recent and mentally delicate experience. Twenty-seven days earlier, on January 24, he was fired – he assures him he resigned – from his position as coach of the Ivory Coast in the middle of the African Cup of Nations (CAN) after two defeats and a victory in the group stage. On the verge of elimination and saved by a positive result from Morocco, the Elephants were then entrusted to his deputy, Emerse Faé, before finally winning the competition against Nigeria.

“My departure brought peace. We say to ourselves: “he was the culprit”, and that protects others. You had to see death up close, perhaps, to bounce back,” recalled Jean-Louis Gasset at the beginning of February in L’Equipe – before the final won by his former flock.

Which did not fail to pay tribute to him after winning the third star of the Elephants. “Humanly, he’s like a grandpa. He is quite caring, kind and takes the time to chat calmly, explained Ivorian striker Sébastien Haller on Monday, speaking to La Chaine L'Equipe. With him and his staff, this involves a lot of dialogue and human relations. »

Accustomed to the costume of the savior

In Marseille, the former midfielder will quickly be put to work, since he will lead the team on Thursday for the return match of the Europa League play-offs against Shakhtar Donetsk. A decisive meeting for the rest of the OM season.

Jean-Louis Gasset knows the French championship very well because he has had a string of experiences there. First as an assistant, from 1985 in Montpellier, then as head coach, from 1998, also in the Hérault club.

After various stints which took him from the bench of SM Caen (2000-2001 season) to that of Espanyol Barcelona (as assistant to Luis Fernandez during the 2003-2004 season), Jean-Louis Gasset often took on the role of savior costume in the clubs he coached.

Returning to Montpellier in 2017, he saved his “club of hearts” from relegation by taking the reins of the team during the second part of the season. A few months later, he recovered AS Saint-Etienne from a poor position in the standings, once again managing to maintain the club. The following season will be a success since his “Greens” will finish fourth in Ligue 1. His last French experience, at the Girondins de Bordeaux in the middle of a pandemic, remains more mixed.

In Marseille, the Héraultais will be accompanied by his longtime assistant, Ghislain Printant – another well-known face in Ligue 1 – with whom he has already worked in Montpellier, Saint-Etienne and Ivory Coast.

The Marseille leaders were looking as a priority for a French-speaking coach so that communication with the players would no longer be a problem to manage. Since May 2019 and the departure of Rudi Garcia, five coaches – not counting the interims of Nasser Larguet and Jacques Abardonado – have succeeded one another without speaking French: André Villas-Boas, Jorge Sampaoli, Igor Tudor, Marcelino and Gennaro Gattuso.

Jean-Louis Gasset is not arriving in completely unknown lands because he has already worked on the OM staff for a fortnight. He was Gérard Gili's physical trainer during the 1994-1995 season but quickly left the south of France for financial reasons. That year, after the match-fixing affair with Valenciennes, Marseille had been demoted to Division 2 and was no longer able to offer suitable contracts to its employees. Another era when crises already punctuated the daily life of OM.