Courbis resigns as Montpellier coach
On Wednesday Rolland Courbis stepped down as head coach of Montpellier HSC, citing exhaustion after a very difficult first half of the season. Club president Louis Nicollin is tipped to appoint a replacement from within the club.
Rumours about Courbis' desire to call time on his tenure as La Paillade's head coach had been persisting in France's south-wet, and on Wednesday they were confirmed as Courbis, 62, emerged from a meeting with president delegate Laurent Nicollin announcing his resignation.
Courbis took Montpellier from the brink of third-division football and into the country's top flight in his first stint in charge of the club (2007-2009), and then took the club to 15th- and seventh-placed finished in the last two seasons, but has found the current campaign much tougher going.
"I don't feel that I'm under attack; I'm simply stopping," said Courbis, whose contract was due to finish at the end of the current season. "Actually I almost didn't return for the start of the season in August, because I knew things were getting more and more complicated. After the loss to Monaco (3-2 at home in Week 7, their sixth defeat in seven games), it was only due to the intervention of Laurent Nicollin that I stayed on and didn't quit."
Without the will
Since then, Montpellier have turned things around, climbing to 15th by the end of the first half of the season thanks to six wins and three draws. Nonetheless, Courbis found himself without the will to continue at the winter break, but denied claims that his departure was premeditated.
"I even bought a house in Lattes (on the outskirts of Montpellier). I thought I would finish my coaching career here in Montpellier," said the former Marseille, Ajaccio and Bordeaux boss, who evidently still harbours affection and concern for the club. "I will give Laurent Nicollin a list of things that seem to me to be indispensible for the good functioning of a club that is dear to my heart. I'll take a break, but as I still feel I have some coaching years left in me, I'll be open to offer for the future."
Meanwhile president Louis Nicollin, who now needs to appoint a replacement, has no problems moving on.
"Rolland Courbis wanted to stop, and I'm not going to fight him over it," said the long-time club owner and president. "I'm not in the habit of trying to hang onto people who want to leave."
Prunier, Baills in the running
The name of Montpellier youth academy coach William Prunier has been circulating as a possible successor to Courbis, but Louis Nicollin told Eurosport that the club's all-time top scorer Laurent Blanc, currently coach of Paris Saint-Germain, once urged him to give senior team assistant coach Pascal Baills a chance in the big chair.
Baills played 425 Ligue matches for the club as a right-back in two stints (1983-1991 and 1995-2000) and has been the club's youth team coach in between spells as senior team assistant coach under Courbis and Ligue 1 title-winning boss René Girard.