PARIS (AP) — Marseille has not won a league match in a month and fans are already losing patience only weeks into a season that was meant to be a renaissance for the nine-time champions.
Rudi Garcia's future does not hang in the balance yet, but the former Roma coach has lost the fans' support following a bad patch of results.
Garcia, who was appointed as Marseille coach last year as part of the "Champions Project" to bring the glory days back to the southern club, had been treated gently by Marseille supporters last season.
Fans rightly considered Garcia had not been in charge of the players' recruitment during his first months in charge, and forgave him for the team's inconsistent results. But after two consecutive losses, including a 6-1 rout at Monaco, and nine goals conceded, indulgence seems over.
Sections of supporters asked for Garcia's firing last weekend following a 3-1 home loss to Rennes, and hardcore Marseille fans "MTP" issued a statement this week blaming his "amateurism."
Another group of fans, the South Winners, said the "dream" sold to fans by team officials since former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt took over "has turned into a nightmare."
For now, Garcia has been turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to his detractors.
"No matter what my critics think, the important thing to me is what I'm putting in place at training with the lads, and that the players stick to the project," Garcia said. "Now we need to show it on the pitch."
McCourt has pledged to make the former European champions great again by investing 200 million euros ($210 million) over four years and by immediately hiring Garcia.
Less than a year after the businessman completed his takeover, euphoria has ceded to great disappointment.
"We notice that the Champions Project is just a big cloud of smoke," MTP fans wrote in their statement.
With Champions League qualification the main goal at the southern club, Marseille, which travels to promoted Amiens on Sunday with no room for mistakes, was expected to play more than a second fiddle role.
In order to secure a top-three finish, the club recruited striker Valere Germain from Monaco, Greece forward Kostas Mitroglou and Brazil midfielder Luiz Gustavo. To strengthen its defense, Marseille also brought in France defender Adil Rami and Valencia defender Aymen Abdennour joined on loan.
In Garcia's defense, Marseille has been hit by injuries in recent weeks, a situation that did not help all the new players to gel as a team. But Marseille players' passivity on the field, as well as Garcia's poor decisions, have been worrying.
Against Rennes, France international Patrice Evra looked out of sorts in defense but he played the whole match while Garcia decided to replace right back Hiroki Sakai, who performed well, after only 38 minutes. Against Monaco, Garcia's defensive strategy ended in a fiasco.
Some believe it might be a good time for Garcia to think about changing his 4-3-3 preferred tactics into a different set-up with Dimitri Payet in a true No. 10 role that would help stabilize the back-four and galvanize an underachieving attacking line at the same time.
"We are ready to play in different systems," Garcia said. "But honestly, what really matters is the players' implication, and their drive."