Fired Bastia Manager Claude Makelele Caught in Convoluted Mess

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentNovember 5, 2014

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MAY 19: Chelsea football player Claude Makelele arrives at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on May 19, 2008 in Moscow, Russia. The Chelsea football team was arriving ahead of their Champions League Final againt Manchester United on Wednesday.  (Photo by Dima Korotayev/Epsilon/Getty Images)
Epsilon/Getty Images

A once-in-a-generation, UEFA Champions League-winning midfielder, Claude Makelele's introductory foray into management abruptly ended after being fired by struggling French club Bastia. 

You must understand the background story of Makelele's short-lived reign before rushing to judge his coaching ability.

"The board of directors of Sporting Club of Bastia inform their supporters and partners that as of today, Claude Makelele is no longer the coach of Bastia," per Bastia's official website (h/t AFP).

  • Hired: May 24, 2014.
  • Fired: November 3, 2014
  • Duration: Five months, 11 days. 
  • Bastia accumulated 10 points from 12 Ligue 1 games.
  • Averaged 0.75 goals per game (tied for worst GPG in Ligue 1).

You need to look beyond Makelele's deplorable numbers managing Bastia.

MailOnline Sport @MailSport

Claude Makelele sacked by Bastia after just 12 games http://t.co/y1NAUxSXZe http://t.co/rj5tvJrg1Y

"The adventure [at Bastia] ends," Makelele said, per Ligue 1's official website. "These are the risks of being a coach. I accept that."

The risk being by committing to Bastia, Makelele vacated his cushy and secure assistant manager role at Paris Saint-Germain, a club backed by Qatar "with effectively unlimited funds available."

"In despite of our wishes to keep him [Makelele] here with us, I understand his desire to take the next step in his career," PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi said, per PSG's official website. "I wish him all the very best in his new position and congratulate Bastia for offering Claude such a deserved role."

David Vincent/Associated Press
Video Play Button
Videos you might like

A month and eight days into the job, Makelele lost Wahbi Khazri—Bastia's most valuable player—to Bordeaux for €2 million/£1.6 million.

Khazri has the potential to be a match-winner with his direct running, his long-range shooting and his knack for splitting open opposing defences. 

In his last two seasons for Bastia, he scored 12 goals and registered seven assists in Ligue 1.

A further blow to Makelele's attacking stocks were loanees Florian Raspentino and Gianni Bruno not being retained (both combined for 12 goals and five assists last season). 

No firepower equals inevitable relegation.

Amid a turbulent influx of new players, Bastia's most expensive signing last summer was Luka Kikabidze, a 19-year-old Georgian prospect who transferred from Lokomotivi Tbilisi for €100,000/£78,383.

Two games into the Ligue 1 season, the aerial presence, grit and strength of centre-forward Brandao was shelved.

He received a six-month ban for assaulting PSG's Thiago Motta.

Tom Williams @tomwfootball

Bastia striker Brandao appeared before FFF commission today to contest six-month ban for headbutting Thiago Motta... accompanied by his mum.

20 Minutes @20Minutes

Coup de tête sur Thiago Motta: Brandao est venu se défendre... avec sa mère http://t.co/Rc77jd8zfK http://t.co/kHoOGOrIUH

Former French international Djibril Cisse didn't spend his days thinking, "Brandao, who? I will be Makelele's saviour."

All Cisse wanted was to dig deep as his battered body yelled, "No more!"

"This is my last season I think," Cisse said, per L'Equipe (h/t Patrick Haond of Sky Sports). "Twenty-four hours a day, I am in pain."

There was a eureka moment during Makelele's reign when he discovered his best player could not score, lacked the vision to create goals, was not strong in the tackle and devoid of experience.

Alphonse Areola, a 21-year-old French goalkeeper on loan from PSG, has been Bastia's MVP. He is tied with Lorient's Benjamin Lecomte for most saves in Ligue 1 this season (41).

Guillaume Dufy @gdufy

Bel hommage rendu à Frédéric Hantz#Ligue1#foot#bastia http://t.co/AY89b08BjH

Makelele agreeing to manage Bastia was a poisoned chalice.

His predecessor, Frederic Hantz, led Bastia to 10th place last season. 

This was while harbouring irreconcilable differences with Bastia President Pierre-Marie Geronimi.

"Being unable to resolve this issue [with Geronimi and Bastia upper management], and after a lot of thought, I decided to call time," Hantz said, per Ligue 1's official website. "I couldn't get past that barrier."

Hantz wanted out, which should have been a red flag to Makelele.

But Makelele was blinded by the lionization of coaching a Ligue 1 club. 

If Geronimi could not reach an amicable agreement with Hantz, then you can be assured a glass-half-empty approach was taken towards Makelele.

OptaJean @OptaJean

16.7% - Claude Makelele won 16.7% of his top-flight games with Bastia, compared to 32.9% for his predecessor Frédéric Hantz. Exit.

Geronimi ignored a multitude of glass-half-full perspectives of Makelele's tenure, which should have granted him more time.

  • Drew 3-3 against league leaders Marseille in the season opener.
  • Two of Bastia's six defeats came via one goal (Lille and Guingamp).
  • Bastia showed grit to cling on to a 0-0 draw while being down a man against Nantes.
  • Only four points separated 19th-placed Bastia (10) and 14th-placed Toulouse (14).
  • Three clubs (Evian Thonon Gaillard, Toulouse and Lorient) have worse losing streaks (three) than Bastia (two).
  • A week before being dismissed, Makelele coached Bastia to a 3-1 Coupe de la Ligue win over Ligue 2 club Auxerre
Andy Brassell @andybrassell

Feel very sorry for Makélélé. He made mistakes, sure, but 1st jobber facing on & off-pitch problems, then the Brandão thing, was tough.

"There are only positives because it has been a learning curve," Makelele said, per Ligue 1's official website. "I won't make the same mistakes in the future."

Makelele's biggest mistake? Trusting Geronimi.

He burdened Makelele—a rookie manager—with a shoestring-budgeted squad.

If Geronimi wanted a higher standard of coaching, he should have re-hired Frederic Antonetti as Hantz's successor rather than ruin Makelele's reputation as a manager. 

Geronimi has shifted his portion of culpability onto Makelele by kicking him to the curb.



Statistics via WhoScored.

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!