Marcelo Bielsa should have known better: in football, the best defense is a good offense, and the Lille Olympic Sporting Club (LOSC) won the tactical battle in court.

The Argentine coach was asking his former club for about €18 million of compensation after being fired in December, but Lille’s Commercial Court decided on a €300,000 compensation... that Bielsa owed to Lille.

In case you’re not up to date on the former Argentine national manager’s activities, Bielsa had returned to France this season after having coached Olympic of Marseille in 2014-15. In this case, he was coming from the Lazio Rome, his latest experience… where he had been at work until two days before, at which point he decided to quit and take off.

No wonder he is called “El loco”, the mad one.

He was the main attraction of the Lille’s “relaunch”, having been just purchased by a new group of investors, and he had complete liberty over the transfer period as well as during the season, with the mission to concentrate on the youth academy and to bring Lille back to the top of the French league.

Bielsa had started the year with some expensive requests to the club. In July, for example, he had requested the installation of a series of bungalows at the training center which would allow the players to spend the night there and not having to go back home during the preparation period, as well as the construction of a personal house in the same complex, which costed the quite impressive amount of €7 million.

During the transfer period, his demands were all answered, and Lille invested large sums of money on young south American players (Thiago Maia, Ezequiel Ponce, Thiago Mendes, Luis Araujo) while getting rid of some historical figures of the club following Bielsa’s exigences. After spending €70 million on the transfer market, and ten more on breaches of contract, Lille had the youngest squad in Europe’s five top championships.

Marcelo Bielsa on his first day at Lille with the management group; Marc Ingla (General Director), Gerard Lopez (President) and Luis Campos (adviser) (photo via PIB)
Marcelo Bielsa on his first day at Lille with the management group; Marc Ingla (General Director), Gerard Lopez (President) and Luis Campos (adviser) (photo via PIB)


However, the dream quickly became a nightmare as the group showcased a lack of experience and confidence on the field. He lost in the national cups during the first rounds, while pointing at the end of the league, and the ownership group decided to let him go in December, while Lille was placed at the 18th place of the championship – out of 20 teams.(Yikes!)

After being fired for “serious misconducts,” Marcelo Bielsa started legal action to ask for €18 millions of euros (13 for his salaries, his contract lasting until 2019, and 5 for the damage and harm suffered), even though being fully aware that the club was not in a good financial situation.

He wanted the Commercial Court to charge the club with suspension of payments, which would have opened an insolvency procedure, which in turn could have costed the club more than a few millions, potentially making it declaring bankruptcy and possibly being relegated to an amateur league – in short, chaos. This would have meant a sporting but also a professional blow for the club, and would have caused it’s employees to lose its jobs. It seems that “El Loco” really is a mad man when provoked.

However, the LOSC stated they had fulfilled their employment obligations and that Bielsa had been legitimately fired due to his handling of the club, and as it turns out, the court agreed. In addition to not granting the former manager the money, they also determined that he had to pay €300,000 in damages for the “procedural harassment” he had put the French club under.

However, the Argentine appealed against the judgement and we will probably have to wait several months before witnessing the end of the trial, specially with the French judiciary system being as complex as Marcelo Bielsa’s football tactics.