Awesome piece in by Philippe Auclair in The Guardian about Marseille—the football club and the city—and it’s rabid fans. The best I’ve read in a while.
The city is home to France’s craziest club, and it couldn’t be otherwise. The Marseillais wouldn’t have it any other way. “Proud to be Marseillais” is a popular slogan here. Eric Cantona, who grew up in one of the town’s inner villages, was happy to display it on a T-shirt despite his falling out with the OM fans when his rebelliousness set him on a collision course with the club’s hierarchy in the late 1980s. A Marseillais is a Frenchman, true. But France will always come a distant second in the loyalty stakes.
And then on Bielsa—always worth a read:
Perhaps this is the only salvation for OM: put in charge someone who is just as crazy, or even crazier – a manager who makes his players “shit themselves” on the training ground (to quote a member of his current staff) and who used a recent press conference to rubbish his chairman Vincent Labrune’s understanding of the transfer market (and did so again a week later, making sure his attack had not gone unnoticed by the attending journalists). These acts of rebellion would have earned him the sack at any other club. In Marseille, he got away with a mild reprimand. It may well end with a spectacular explosion from which OM will emerge like a cartoon tomcat, splattered on a wall, then miraculously reassembled and running in whichever direction takes its fancy.
Just read it.