Paris – He has only been in charge for 12 games but the pressure is building on Andre Villas-Boas at Marseille after a disastrous week for the former European champions.
Marseille were dumped out of the French League Cup at the first hurdle on Wednesday, going down 2-1 at Monaco as a potential route to silverware and European qualification was cut off.
That result followed a 4-0 humbling away to Paris Saint-Germain, a loss which left OM winless in 16 Ligue 1 meetings with their greatest rivals.
Villas-Boas has overseen only four wins this season and Marseille have managed only one victory in their last seven outings.
They lie seventh in France’s top flight before a pair of huge home games. The visit of last season’s runners-up Lille to the Velodrome on Saturday is followed by a date with Lyon.
“We can accept losing against Paris, given the difference between the squads, but not that,” said Villas-Boas after the Monaco reverse.
“We have been knocked out of a Cup that I wanted to win, the players too. It is shameful.”
The 42-year-old has struggled to live up to his reputation since winning a domestic double and the Europa League in his one season at Porto in 2010-11.
Spells in England with Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur never quite worked out, and while he won a Russian league and Cup with Zenit, Villas-Boas arrived in Marseille last May with something to prove on his return to Europe following a stint in China.
It was always going to be a gamble for him at the Velodrome, with Marseille’s American owner Frank McCourt no longer investing large sums in the squad and the team having failed to qualify for Europe this season.
Despite the underwhelming start, a top-three finish and a return to the Champions League for the first time since 2013-14 remains the objective.
All is certainly not lost. Marseille are currently only two points behind third-placed Lille and above other leading contenders like Monaco and Lyon.
“We are still on course for our main objective, just like Lyon and Monaco, but it is true that I said I wanted to win something here in Marseille and we have missed one opportunity,” Villas-Boas added.
At least top scorer Dario Benedetto can return against Lille after serving a suspension against Monaco.
Player to watch: Wissam Ben YedderBen Yedder has been in sensational form for Monaco, and has been central to their much-improved recent form. The principality club have won five of their last six games and France striker Ben Yedder — a summer signing from Sevilla — has found the net in each of his last six league appearances.
However, as Monaco head to Claude Puel’s Saint-Etienne on Sunday, Ben Yedder’s strike partner Islam Slimani — who has either scored or set up 12 goals this season — is struggling with injury.
17 – The number of goals Paris Saint-Germain have scored in their last four matches. Kylian Mbappe, Mauro Icardi and Angel Di Maria have all been in prolific form and PSG are target a seventh straight win in all competitions as they visit bottom side Dijon.
6 – Nice have gone six games without a win after being knocked out of the League Cup. The pressure is building on coach Patrick Vieira.
4 – Claude Puel is unbeaten after four games in charge of Saint-Etienne. He can extend that run when his new side host Monaco on Sunday. It is a special game for Puel, who spent his entire playing career at Monaco and coached the principality club to the title in 2000.