As the 2023/24 season kicked off, Marseille aimed to build on their previous third-place finish and contend for the title. Spanish coach Marcelino Garcia stepped in, succeeding Igor Tudor, with his fast, compact style of play intended to propel Marseille to the summit of French football. However, this hope was short-lived.
During the summer, Marseille invested nearly €80 million to strengthen their squad, aligning with Marcelino’s direct football approach. Yet, their downfall began after losing the Champions League qualification playoff against Panathinaikos. The team struggled, managing only two wins in their first six games and suffered a resounding 4-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain, leading to Marcelino’s departure from the club.
Although Marseille possessed the talent to turn things around, they required a steady hand at the helm. Enter Gennaro Gattuso. The Italian’s fiery passion injected new life into the squad. His focus on discipline and an unrelenting work ethic transformed Marseille into the competitive force many expected them to be at the season’s outset.
Since Gattuso took over, Marseille’s transformation has been evident in their recent performances. Despite currently occupying 6th place in the league standings, Marseille have significantly narrowed the gap to the European qualification spots. They trail Monaco in 3rd by just 3 points and Nice in 2nd by 6 points, the coveted Champions League position.
Their recent form in the league has been impressive and the foundation of this rise up the league table. Marseille are on a 4-game winning streak, scoring 13 goals and conceding just 3. With the exception of one slip-up in the final group stage match, Marseille has been brilliant in the Europa League. They scored an impressive 14 goals and secured qualification to the knockout round with 11 points
A draw against Brighton in the final group game would have secured the top spot in the group. However, an 89th-minute winner for the Seagulls dashed their hopes, resulting in Marseille finishing second in the group and missing out on being in the undefeated group phase.
One of the biggest reasons for Marseille’s resurgence is the play of 34-year-old striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who has been in blistering form. 7 goals and 3 assists in his last 5 games makes him one of the most in form players in Europe. Despite his age, Aubameyang still looks as sharp as ever in and around the box and just needs a sight of goal to change a game. His experience and leadership have been key to Marseille’s revival.
Gattuso has more than steadied the ship, and whilst a league title push is probably out of the question, the aim will now be securing an automatic Champions League spot and making a deep run in both the UEFA Europa League and the Coupe de France. They will travel to Montpellier before opening 2024 with a cup match against fifth-tier US Thionville Lusitanos, whilst they will face off against Shakhtar in the next round of the Europa League.
The impact of Gattuso’s tenure extends beyond the pitch. There’s a renewed sense of belief and optimism surrounding the club. Marseille’s aspirations for silverware and a competitive edge in domestic and European competitions have been reignited, with Gattuso providing the driving force behind this resurgence.
By: Mohamed Salad / @MohamedASalad
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Getty Images