Marseille - Montpellier coach Fabien Galthie has failed this season, his president Mohed Altrad said on Tuesday.
The former France captain was relieved of his duties as head coach on Monday and suspended until January 9, with South Africa's Rugby World Cup-winning coach Jake White being brought in as a consultant to take over the reins.
"It's a failure. We can't say Galthie's season has been a success," said Altrad.
Montpellier have lost eight of their last nine matches since influential fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc suffered a broken leg in October.
"In a rugby club, whatever the level, it's rare to lose eight out of nine matches," added Altrad, who insisted Galthie has not been fired.
"It's a conservative suspension and not necessarily a sanction," he added.
"Fabien is suspended until Friday next week for internal reasons and to try to get us out of this situation."
Altrad said the time off would give Galthie an opportunity to reflect on his position and come up with a plan to drag Montpellier out of the mire.
The president criticised Galthie's management of his players but said an avenue remains open for the 'Little Prince' to continue in his role.
"For the moment he is suspended, a sacking is a whole different process.
"It depends on his behaviour, on what he's going to say and do. We've asked him to think about the club's future and come back with some projects.
"In the meantime we've gone looking outside for some expertise, in the person of Jake White, who is world renown, who won the World Cup, who guided two teams (the Sharks and Brumbies) to the final and semi-finals of the Super 15."
White has signed a six-month deal while Shaun Sowerby, a former South Africa international who won one cap in 2002 and played the majority of his club career in France, taking over as forwards coach.
Argentine Mario Ledesma left his role as forwards coach in November following a humbling 25-10 home defeat to Brive, who had not won an away match in the French top flight in almost three years until then.
Altrad said Galthie and White, who has been hired as a consultant rather than coach, could yet work together for the rest of the season while he added that no decision had been made on the South African's long-term future in Montpellier.
But much of that depends on whether the club can salvage something from a season that has unravelled since October.
Montpellier have lost all four European Champions Cup matches they have played and are out of that competition ahead of their final two fixtures.
Their league form, which includes four defeats in their last five, has seen them drop to eighth -- they need a top six finish to reach the play-offs and, perhaps more importantly, guarantee a place in next season's Champions Cup.
"It's not the time to speak (about White's future) because we're in a crisis," added Altrad.
"Our aim is to play another role. In Europe it's dead, in the Top 14 we'll keeping trying despite everything.
"We need to wait several weeks before talking about the future."
Montpellier's next match this coming weekend sees them host French and European champions Toulon, who will be smarting from a humiliating 30-6 reverse at Stade Francais, Galthie's former club, on Sunday.