Deschamps desperate to end Marseille losing streak
The future of Didier Deschamps as Marseille coach is set to come under more intense scrutiny this weekend when the stricken French league giants bid to end an unprecedented series of defeats.
And the 1998 World Cup winner expects his players to help get their dire domestic season back on the right path.
While league leaders and arch-rivals Paris Saint-Germain continue the business of winning a first league title since 1994, the plight of 2010 champions Marseille is sure to dominate Saturday's league programme.
Marseille's hopes of playing in next season's Champions League were virtually ended last week by a fifth consecutive league defeat, to relegation-haunted Dijon.
Another humiliation came Tuesday in the shape of a French Cup quarter-final defeat to part-timers Quevilly, prompting a stark overall appraisal from former World Cup winner Deschamps.
"We're in a hole. Either we stay there, or we get our heads together and get out," Deschamps said Thursday.
"All defeats are horrible, but this one was particularly hard to swallow."
So far, Deschamps has been spared the kind of intense speculation that brings down managers in other top leagues, with club president Vincent Labrune calling on the players to pull their socks up.
"Everyone has to face up to his responsibilities," warned Labrune, who has already lamented the loss of cash Marseille could have potentially earned from inclusion in next season's Champions League.
But the facts speak for themselves: Marseille have never been defeated seven times in succession, according to L'Equipe which highlighted their previous worse spells in 1962-63 and 1979-80 when, each time, they lost six times on the trot.
An eighth consecutive defeat in all competitions, according to French media, could dilute Labrune's faith in Deschamps' ability to do the job.
Compounding Deschamps' task on Saturday is the possible absence of striker Loic Remy, who scored twice in the 3-2 extra time defeat to Quevilly but has since complained of a thigh niggle, which prevented him from training Thursday.
From Nice, who are battling to get out of the drop zone, there is little sympathy.
"I'm not going to be a hypocrite," Nice defender Renato Civelli, formerly of Marseille, told L'Equipe.
"I would much rather play a team that's going through tough times than a team that's flying."
PSG, who hold a two-point lead on Montpellier, also exited the French Cup after a 3-1 home reverse at the hands of Lyon but that setback is seen as a blessing in disguise for the Parisians' sporting director Leonardo.
"PSG have not won the title in a long time, and we're not forgetting that," Leonardo said after the Lyon defeat, their first of 2012 and the first under coach Carlo Ancelotti.
"Our focus is now fully on the league. That was our first defeat, but it's possibly our last."
Montpellier, also eliminated from the French Cup, by Gazelec Ajaccio, welcome a Bordeaux side missing main striker Yoan Gouffran to an ankle sprain.
Fifth-placed Lyon have a chance to close the gap to third-placed Lille and Toulouse, in fourth, in a home match against second-bottom Sochaux.
Auxerre meanwhile are hoping the appointment of Jean-Guy Wallemme, following the sacking of Laurent Fournier in the wake of last week's 12th league defeat of the season, spurs them on to an inlikely win away to Toulouse.
Saturday (all 1800 GMT unless stated)
Nice v Marseille, Montpellier v Saint-Etienne, Ajaccio v Lorient, Lyon v Sochaux, Brest v Nancy, Evian v Lille, Valenciennes v Rennes (2000 GMT)
Sunday (all 1600 GMT unless stated)
Toulouse v Auxerre, Dijon v Caen, Paris Saint-Germain v Bordeaux
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