Erik Gerets declared he had "no fear" of the pressure facing him at Olympique de Marseille after meeting the press for the first time at the helm of the southern French team.
Gerets, who was named OM coach in place of Albert Emon on Wednesday, has signed a two-year contract with Marseille, who fell to 16th place in Ligue 1 following their 2-0 defeat at AJ Auxerre last Saturday. Gerets's first match in charge will be at UEFA Champions League rivals Liverpool FC on 3 October – a daunting task, but one club president Pape Diouf is sure his new man can handle. "We had already met Erik Gerets last season but he was under contract with Galatasaray SK, otherwise the deal was done," Diouf said. "He was the first choice for me."
Eager to start
Former Belgium defender Gerets said: "What convinced me to come here is that I felt the confidence of the president. It is a hot atmosphere and there are more fans than at Galatasaray, but I have no fear of pressure. Otherwise I'd have joined a side with 2,000 people in the stadium or gone to the Gulf States, where coaches work for other reasons." The 53-year-old has become the 53rd Marseille coach since the club turned professional in 1932, and took training for the first time on Thursday.
Run the rule
"I can't wait to assess my squad," he said. "In the days ahead, I'll speak with every player individually. It's the first thing I have to do. I also have nine tapes of Marseille games to get through. I want to know everything, then we'll make our first assessment in ten days' time." Emon will remain on the OM staff, probably with scouting duties, while Diouf expects his latest trainer to "galvanise" the team. "Gerets has had success in several leagues and countries. He's the sort of person who can bring us a title," he said.
Gerets has built a reputation for toughness during his career with Galatasaray, in Germany with VfL Wolfsburg and 1. FC Kaiserslautern, in the Netherlands with PSV Eindhoven, and in Belgium with Club Brugge KV, K. Lierse SK and RFC Liège – and he has no intention of changing his ways at the Stade Vélodrome. "I'm not a dictator," he said. "But I want players to respect the tactics and to respect each other on and off the pitch. For example, in France, players do not eat together when they have two training sessions in one day. I don't want to change French football culture but such things do have to change."
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