MARSEILLE: Rudi Garcia will step down as Marseille coach following this weekend’s final round of Ligue 1 matches after the French giants failed to qualify for European football next season.
“I’ve decided to leave. I put forth this solution to my president who accepted it,” Garcia said at a press conference on Wednesday, sat alongside Marseille chief Jacques-Henri Eyraud.
“If I listened to my character and my determination I would stay, but if I listen to common sense and reason it’s best to announce it now.”
The 55-year-old Garcia was appointed coach in October 2016 with the mandate of leading Marseille back into the Champions League, shortly after the club’s takeover by American tycoon Frank McCourt.
He extended his deal last October until 2021, but Garcia will leave the Velodrome with two years remaining on his contract after again missing out on a top-three finish.
Garcia said he took “full responsibility for not being able to lead Marseille into the Champions League”.
“It was not a good season, but not catastrophic either. Catastrophic is more Monaco this season or Lille last year,” he said, referring to those clubs’ battles to avoid relegation.
“The leaders have not all been at their top level.”
Marseille are in sixth place, 11 points adrift of the Champions League places, going into Saturday morning’s final game of the season against fifth-placed Montpellier.
Garcia steered Marseille to last year’s Europa League final in his first full season at the club, finishing runners-up following a 3-0 loss to Atletico Madrid.
However, they crashed out of this season’s competition in the group stage after picking up just one point from six matches.
A dreadful run of form across December and January also saw Marseille knocked out of both domestic cup competitions, after an embarrassing loss to amateurs Andrezieux in the French Cup.
Disgruntled Marseille fans have repeatedly vented their frustration at the team’s struggles, deriding the ‘Champions Project’ that is designed to restore the club to its former glories.
Marseille finished a dreadful 13th in 2015/16 – the club’s lowest position in 15 years – and while results have since improved, the club has not finished higher than fourth under Garcia.
Marseille, winners of the Champions League in 1993, have not competed in Europe’s top club competition since bowing out of the 2013/14 group stage without a single point.
Eyraud, who described Garcia as “a great coach and man of great quality”, said the club would look to appoint a replacement as quickly as possible.
Gabriel Heinze, who played at Marseille from 2009 to 2011, has been touted as a possible successor.
The former Argentina defender, who also had spells at Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Real Madrid, is currently in charge of Velez Sarsfield in his homeland.