Last April, when Marseille were in discussions with Marcelo Bielsa to be their next manager, I wrote a column on the union between a city crazy about its football club and the man nicknamed El Loco - the Crazy one. The middle of the article read: "Personally, I think that Bielsa in Marseille would be a marriage made in heaven. It would probably end up in tears, I give you that, but he is exactly the kind of manager that l'OM needs."
I don't have any magical powers to read the future and don't deserve any credit for announcing that it would end in tears. It was inevitable. It always ends in tears with Marcelo Bielsa. This time, the end was so unexpected though. Although he had not yet signed the new contract he had agreed at the club, he had been very involved and active on the transfer market and in the preseason preparing the team for the season. On Thursday, in his press conference before the game against Caen, he praised Vincent Labrune, his chairman and never mentioned anything was possibly wrong.
But he dumped Marseille on Saturday, after a humiliating defeat at home against Caen on the opening day of the Ligue 1 season. He did it in a very Bielsa way. He let the media -- and so the fans, the rest of France and the world -- know about his resignation before his own players. He used his post-match press conference, straight after the game, to read out loud the resignation letter he gave to Vincent Labrune just a few minutes earlier.
The players phones started buzzing in the dressing room with texts and emails about the big news. A few of them even thought it was a joke. But Bielsa was very clear. The club tried to change some details in the contract he had agreed with them. He could not accept it. His trust towards his bosses had been broken. So he left. It is pretty simple. Marcelo Bielsa might be a bit crazy, but he is loyal, straight and honest. He wants people around him to be the same. Like Marseille have discovered this weekend, he cannot work with people he can't trust.
Last season, when Labrune didn't buy the players he wanted in the summer transfer window, he publicly criticised him and never played Doria, the Brazilian defender signed by Labrune without his consent. He could have left then but, only a few weeks in the job, he felt like giving it a go.
In his time in France, Bielsa has become the king of communication, using the media to send his messages or to criticise his chairman. He did it one last time on Saturday. In the next few days, we will probably learn more about the issues between Bielsa and Labrune, who said he was "stunned" by the decision. The club fought back on Sunday with a statement saying that "they could not be prisoner of the demands of someone who puts his own interests above the institution".
One thing is sure, though, now he is gone, the Argentine won't come back.
What will be left in France of the former Marseille manager then? For the time it lasted, it was great to have Bielsa, totally obsessed with football, coaching in a city obsessed with football. The two spoke the same language. That's why the Argentine will always be a god in Marseille and will always be welcomed back by the fans. They worshipped him, adored him, felt blessed to have him on their bench. He made the fans dream, even if the last four months of last season were difficult.
Bielsa fascinated everybody in France with his tactics (3-3-3-1 formation), his man marking, his high pressing and constant running. He made good players like Dimitri Payet into very good players. He inspired his players, even without speaking French. He sat on his cooler to watch games, he made people smile with his goal celebrations and his antics. He was totally different than anything else the French had seen before. He was photographed in a McDonald's in his OM track suit after a game working on his laptop last season.
For some, especially the Marseille fans, he was a genius. For others, he was out of touch with modern football. "Monsieur Bielsa decided to make fun of football this weekend and Lorient took advantage of his gifts coming from another time" said a livid Pascal Dupraz, the former Evian manager, after Marseille lost 5-3 to Lorient in the league in April last season. Dupraz didn't like the lack of defensive organisation showed that night by Marseille against Lorient, who were in the fight against relegation with Evian.
On Sunday, Jean-Louis Triad, the Bordeaux chairman seemed happy by Bielsa's resignation: "I wonder if it is not better for Marseille that he has left".
It is true that at times, the football played by Marseille under Bielsa looked like something from another planet. Where everybody attacks but only a few defend. Bielsa is a manager like no others and his teams play like no others. Whether people like it or not doesn't matter to him. He will never change, on or off the pitch. "Bielsa no te va" (Bielsa don't go) said a banner at the Stade Velodrome at the end of last season when the future of the Argentine was not clear.
This time, he has really gone.