Lazio manager Marcelo Bielsa quits after 48 hours

Rome (AFP) – Former Argentina boss Marcelo Bielsa has pulled out of coaching Lazio in a shock move 48 hours after his appointment, which the Serie A club said could result in legal action.

“We note with amazement the resignation of Marcelo Bielsa in clear violation of the commitments and agreements signed last week,” the Serie A club said in a statement on Friday.

Just two days ago Lazio said that Bielsa, who had been jobless since he abruptly quit as Marseille handler after the first match of last season, would be arriving in Rome this weekend having signed a contract as coach.

With pre-season training about to begin, Simone Inzaghi will step into the breach, having taken temporary charge in the second half of last season.

The intense Bielsa, known as “El Loco” (the Madman), called Lazio boss Claudio Lotito overnight Thursday to say he had decided not to come to Rome, Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport daily reported Friday.

With Gabriel Batistuta and Hernan Crespo, Bielsa’s Argentina were favourites for the 2002 World Cup on the back of some terrifying form only to fall in the first round after a defeat to England.

But he guided his homeland to Olympic glory at the Athens Games in 2004.

At the 2010 World Cup, Bielsa led Chile to the last-16 and many feel he laid the groundwork for recent back-to-back Copa America glory.

Chile took to the idiosyncratic Argentine, who was voted the best coach in the history of Chilean football during his 2007-2011 spell in charge by the readers of football magazine El Mercurio.

The country’s then President, Michelle Bachelet, hailed him a “role model for youth” and praised his “ability to get results with hard work, discipline and enthusiasm”.

After quitting Chile in a row over who would lead the national federation, Bielsa took his firebrand football philosophy to the Basque Country and Athletic Bilbao.

Instilling his total football, he led them to the Europa League final, where they lost 3-0 to Atletico Madrid, and also to the Spanish Cup final, in which they also lost 3-0 to Barcelona.

He was soon to become an idol in Marseille after taking over there in May 2014. The side were top of the French league for most of the 2014/15 season before a late slump saw them slide to fourth.

Then came his stunning departure from Marseille after the first match of the following season. He said he had fallen out with the directors and the club ended up finishing 13th in the league.

The job at Lazio was to be his first time coaching in Italy and the task of turning around their fortunes did not promise to be an easy one: the club, which last won Serie A in 2000, finished eighth last season, far behind arch-rivals AS Roma, who were third.

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