Villas-Boas navigates storm in Marseille as title chances fade

PARIS (AFP) – Marseille are never far away from a crisis and the southern French giants are in trouble again after a run of defeats which have led to coach Andre Villas-Boas admitting to some uncertainty about his future.

Former Chelsea boss Villas-Boas had to be persuaded to stay at Marseille for this season despite leading the 1993 Champions League winners to second place in Ligue 1 in the last, curtailed campaign.

He clearly sensed that repeating that performance would be a very difficult, if not impossible, task and Marseille were dreadful in the Champions League group phase, losing five of their six games.

However, all was going well in Ligue 1 as Marseille won six games in a row to sit right in contention in mid-December.

Since then, though, they have won just once in seven, and suffered home defeats to struggling Nimes and Lens in the last week. That has left Marseille sixth, 10 points off leaders Paris Saint-Germain, albeit with a game in hand.

Marseille’s Portuguese head coach Andre Villas Boas. PHOTO: AFP

After losing 2-1 to Nimes, club president Jacques-Henri Eyraud fumed at his players, telling them they were “not fit to wear the shirt”.

“I am at the service of the board. I am not here to be an obstacle,” Villas-Boas said after Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Lens, a game played out to a backdrop of banners in the empty stands at the Velodrome with messages such as “you are disgusting” and “you are an embarrassment to us”.

Villas-Boas did, though, make it clear he was not about to give up the fight ahead of a huge match at fourth-placed Monaco today.

“We will be playing all our direct rivals in our upcoming matches. We missed a chance to close in on the sides above us but I hope to turn things around. I don’t think this is dead yet.”