Marcelo Bielsa stunned French football on Saturday when he quit as coach of Marseille just minutes after his team had lost their season opener 1-0 at home to Caen.
“I have resigned from my post as manager of Marseille,” the Argentine announced at the end of his post-match news conference.
Bielsa, 60, has been linked to the Mexico national team manager’s role in recent weeks, and Marseille looked every inch a side affected by the off-field uncertainty surrounding his future.
Immediately after their lacklustre defeat, Bielsa, who had only been in charge at the Stade Velodrome since May 2014, announced his resignation.
“I have finished my work here, I will return to my country,” said Bielsa, who guided the former European champions to fourth place in Ligue 1 last season.
“I thank the fans for always being behind me during games and on a daily basis.
“I am sad and frustrated. I cannot accept the situation of instability at the club,” added Bielsa, who accused the club of last-minute changes to the details of a contract he was ready to sign which would have kept him at Marseille until 2017.
To add spice to the drama, Bielsa left it to his interpreter to read out the key phrase of his letter of resignation which was sent to Marseille president Vincent Labrune.
“We had reached an agreement on a contract extension for 2016-2017, which was missing just a signature,” he wrote in his letter.
Bielsa said he had met Wednesday with the club’s chief executive Philippe Perez and Igor Levin, the lawyer of Marseille owner Margarita Louis Dreyfus.
“They wanted to change the contract,” the Argentine wrote. “I took this final decision as working together requires a minimum of trust which we do not have.”
Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda said Bielsa’s resignation was a huge shock.
“It’s a massive, heavy blow,” said Mandanda, who told reporters that one of Bielsa’s assistants, Franck Passi would take temporary charge.
“At Friday’s press conference, everything was fine, it was all positive.
“He was an important part of the club, for the team. We are disappointed. We don’t know the ins and outs of it, we don’t know what has happened. But we respect his decision.”
Marseille got off to a flying start last season — winning eight of their opening 10 matches — before fading to fourth, 14 points adrift of champions PSG.
The only goal of Saturday’s game arrived in the 27th minute and in spectacular fashion as Andy Delort fired a right-footed piledriver beyond Mandanda.
Elsewhere Saturday, Leonardo Jardim’s Monaco came from a goal down to win 2-1 at Nice.
The hosts struck early on thanks to a brilliant instinctive finish by Valere Germain, who is on loan from his parent club of Monaco.
But Monaco, who struck four past Swiss side Young Boys in midweek to progress to the Champions League play-off round where they will face Spanish side Valencia, responded after the interval.
Bernardo Silva equalised after 51 minutes after good work by Anthony Martial and Monaco, who finished third last season, got the winner 11 minutes later through French international full-back Layvin Kurzawa.
Promoted Angers began life at the top table with a terrific 2-0 win at 2012 champions Montpellier.
Stephane Moulin’s men, who finished third in Ligue 2 last season to win promotion to the top flight after a 21-year absence, silenced the Stade de la Mosson after five minutes via Abdoul Razzagui Camara’s strike.
Angers doubled their advantage after 79 minutes thanks to a deflected shot from Gilles Sunu.
Gazelec Ajaccio missed a penalty as they were denied victory at fellow promoted club Troyes in the first ever top-flight game.
The visitors, who finished second in Ligue 2 last season 13 points adrift of champions Troyes, should have taken the lead just before half-time but Mohamed Larbi blazed a poor penalty over the bar.
On Friday, champions PSG won at Lille in their opening game despite playing 62 minutes with 10 men after Adrien Rabiot’s dismissal. Lucas Moura hit a 57th-minute winner for Laurent Blanc’s men.