De Zerbi aims to take Marseille back ‘to the top’

Roberto De Zerbi has set his sights on restoring Marseille to title contention after taking over a team that finished
eighth in Ligue 1 last season and has not won a trophy since 2012. The 45-year-old Italian, previously linked with
Bayern Munich and Manchester United, signed a three-year contract with Marseille after leaving Brighton in May.

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At his unveiling at the Stade Velodrome, De Zerbi emphasized his passion for football and the emotional connection
he seeks with the clubs he manages. “I live on passion and emotion. I was born a fan, only then did I become a player
and a coach. When you’re born a supporter you don’t forget the crowd and the stadium. This team has always been different,” he stated.

De Zerbi expressed his enthusiasm for working at a club that inspires him, explaining his decision to leave England for Marseille. “I look to work where I wake up in the morning with a burning sense of desire, where I get goosebumps. A very big club called me, wanting to rebuild itself with hard-working people,” he said. “I don’t make a distinction between leagues, but between clubs that motivate me and those that don’t.”

Both De Zerbi and club president Pablo Longoria highlighted the need for significant changes to a team that missed out on European qualification. De Zerbi mentioned, “Pablo and (sporting advisor) Medhi (Benatia) haven’t promised anything impossible, but things that are feasible. We’re trying to build a very strong team which will have an identity.”

De Zerbi is committed to a long-term project aimed at returning Marseille to their former glory. “The project is to get Marseille back to where they deserve to be, that means fighting for titles and reaching the top,” he said. Marseille last won the league in 2010 under Didier Deschamps and remain the only French club to have won the Champions League. However, they have gone 12 seasons without silverware since winning the now defunct League Cup.

Despite the high expectations, De Zerbi refrained from setting specific targets for his players for the upcoming season. Instead, he emphasized the importance of making fans proud. “The first goal I give my teams, not just OM, is to make the people who come to the stadium proud. After comes the style of play and results, but the first one is that. Without it you won’t achieve the others,” he explained.

De Zerbi is realistic about the challenges ahead, stating, “I’m not the messiah, nor the saviour. I’m not promising anything in terms of results, just hard work and attitude. But I know the expectations and I want to do my best not to fall short of them.”

As Marseille prepares for the new season, De Zerbi’s leadership and vision will be crucial in their quest to reclaim their place among French football’s elite.

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