Lille ‘project’ stumbles as star coach Bielsa suspended

November 24 – Lille have suspended their star coach Marcelo Bielsa after the club’s poor form left the outfit second bottom of Ligue 1. 

Leading French sports daily L’Equipe reported that the club’s owner, Gerard Lopez, CEO Marc Ingla and sporting advisor Luis Campos met in London on Wednesday to decide Bielsa’s future. Lille is expected to wait five working days, as stipulated by French law, before meeting and informing Bielsa of their decision to begin the process of sacking him for gross negligence.

Lille have slipped badly under the Argentinean coach, having won just three games in 13 and in a statement the club wrote that Bielsa had been ‘suspended momentarily as coach’ pending further announcement.

How the club will construe ‘gross negligence’ in legal terms remains to be seen, but Lille want to avoid paying an estimated €14-16 million for the remainder of the Bielsa’s contract, which runs until 2019, by invoking his post-match press conference in which he took full responsibility for the club’s troubles.

L’Equipe also reported that Lille used the services of private detectives to investigate the squad’s behaviour, which revealed players showing up 20 minutes late for video analysis sessions.

Last summer Bielsa was Lille’s marquee signing, alongside a dozen of players. The Argentinean was unveiled as the new saviour in the North of France, but results and the standard of play have been disappointing. The 62-year old was returning to France for a second spell in Ligue 1 – following a previous stint at Marseille between 2014 and 2015 and spent over €60 million in the transfer market.

Lille won back-to-back matches against Metz and Saint-Etienne but a 3-0 debacle against newly-promoted Amies last Monday moved them back into the relegation zone.

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