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Marseille hits back at Bielsa after resignation

August 9, 2015
FILE - In this May 10, 2015 file photo, Marseille's coach Marcelo Bielsa, of Argentina, shouts instructions at his players during a League One soccer match between Marseille and Monaco in Marseille, France. Bielsa resigned as coach after the team's 1-0 loss to Caen on Aug. 8. (AP Photo/Claude Paris, File)
FILE - In this May 10, 2015 file photo, Marseille's coach Marcelo Bielsa, of Argentina, shouts instructions at his players during a League One soccer match between Marseille and Monaco in Marseille, France. Bielsa resigned as coach after the team's 1-0 loss to Caen on Aug. 8. (AP Photo/Claude Paris, File)

MARSEILLE, France (AP) — Marseille has condemned Marcelo Bielsa’s sudden decision to resign as coach of the French club, accusing the Argentine on Sunday of putting his personal interests first.

Bielsa quit over a contract dispute minutes after his players lost to Caen 1-0 in their opening French league match on Saturday.

The former Argentina national coach was out of contract but had struck an agreement with club president Vincent Labrune to extend his tenure. Bielsa said he changed his mind because Marseille officials allegedly amended the terms of the new deal at the last minute.

Marseille’s board of directors hit back Sunday, saying that the club “can’t submit itself to a single man’s rule.”

“In no instance can Marseille be held prisoner of the demands of someone who puts his own interests well above those of the institution,” Marseille said in a statement.

Bielsa, who said goodbye to his players at Marseille’s training center on Sunday morning, has been linked with a move to Mexico as a possible replacement for fired national coach Miguel Herrera but he insists he did not quit with another job lined up.

Bielsa took over in 2014 and was widely credited for Marseille’s return to form last season with his brand of attacking football. Marseille was in contention for the league title before a run of four straight defeats in April ended those hopes.

The nine-time champions ultimately finished fourth, and allowed Andre-Pierre Gignac, Andre Ayew, Dimitri Payet, and Jeremy Morel to leave. The departures angered the fans, but Marseille compensated their loss with the signing of talented young players, and the arrival of veterans Lassana Diarra and Abou Diaby.

Bielsa, who criticized club president Vincent Labrune for keeping him away from the recruitment process when he took his job, said this week he was “satisfied with the squad.”

Labrune was stunned by Bielsa’s resignation.

“I’m struggling to understand how Wednesday’s meeting on technical details of the deal (for Bielsa) ... created this hasty departure,” Labrune said.

Bielsa’s assistant coach, Franck Passi, is interim coach.

In 2004 Bielsa led Argentina to the Olympic title and runner-up in the Copa America. He also helped Chile qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

At club level, Bielsa guided Athletic Bilbao to the 2012 Europa League final.

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