Girard to leave Montpellier at end of season

Ligue 1 Conforama > News

Despite guiding Montpellier to their fifth win in six games against Rennes on Friday, coach René Girard will leave at the end of the season according to club owner Louis Nicollin.

Montpellier-Hérault SC coach René Girard is set to leave the club at the end of the season after failing to agree terms on a new contract. The 58-year-old was appointed coach at the Stade de la Mosson in 2009, and surprised everybody in guiding MHSC to a maiden Ligue 1 title last season - defying the odds to pip Paris Saint Germain by three points.

Nicollin: 'won't beg him to stay'

This year has been more difficult following the summer departure of top scorer Olivier Giroud to Arsenal, and Montpellier currently find themselves ten points off PSG's pace, and five away from Olympique de Marseille in the third and final Champions League qualification place.

Outspoken club owner Louis Nicollin said the decision was entirely Girard's, and that he'd made up his mind after February's 4-1 defeat at AS Saint-Etienne: "He said three weeks ago that he had taken his decision; I'm not going to beg him to stay."

Montpellier only climbed out of the bottom half of the table in week 18, but there have been shoots of recovery recently. Montpellier beat Rennes on Friday despite the absence of playmakers Younes Belhanda and Rémy Cabella. The 2-0 win was Girard's fifth in six games, sparking hope among some sections of the south-coast club's fan base that he could be persuaded to stay.

Big shoes to fill

Nicollin is not wasting any time in looking for a successor though.  Regarding Raymond Domenech as a potential replacement, the waste collection magnate said: "I wouldn't be against it. We're going to think about it but he has to agree as well, because Montpellier are not just any old team." 

With a hint of mischief, the 69-year-old entrepreneur continued, "To really annoy PSG, I would like to bring in Diego Maradona. With him, we would be all over the papers. I would like to say yes to him, but I can't see him coaching Montpellier and I don't have the financial power of the Qataris (PSG owners) to bring him here."

>> VIDEO: Official match highlights - Montpellier 2-0 Rennes

>> COACH PROFILE: René Girard

>> Montpellier's fixtures/results

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