At the OL training center,
It is paradoxically in its worst period for twenty years that Olympique Lyonnais has just attracted its coach with the most prestigious CV. Winner of the French championship four times, at the head of the Girondins de Bordeaux then of PSG, and former coach of the Blues from 2010 to 2012, Laurent Blanc is in fact the most imposing coach in the entire history of OL. with Gérard Houllier (from 2005 to 2007). Except that his last six seasons very far from the radars of European football (a single experience of 14 months in Qatar with Al-Rayyan) are not really likely to reassure Lyon supporters. As they have just investigated a 7th place in Ligue 1 with a former OM coach whom they hated (in 2020), then an 8th place with a coach totally lost last season, they are no longer at a almost unknown for their favorite club, in the midst of a lasting “downgrade” with its decade without a single title.
The last chance for both parties?
Does this mean that the road between Laurent Blanc (under contract until June 2024) and Jean-Michel Aulas crosses at the best possible moment, after a missed meeting during the post-Sylvinho period in October 2019? “Laurent Blanc remains on exceptional results in France, and to see him train again is necessarily a win-win for him and for OL, believes Jimmy Briand, former Lyon striker who rubbed shoulders with Lolo White during summons with the team. of France. Thanks to his natural aura, he knows how to straighten out a team, remobilize players within and bring his culture of winning. “All that is missing from a club currently in sporting distress at all levels, with a 9th place 11 points from Lorient (2nd), and a black series of 5 games without a win which ended up being fatal to Peter Bosz on Sunday .
“When time passes, you are forgotten…”
“We took our responsibilities, some will think that they may have been taken late, said Jean-Michel Aulas in this regard on Monday, during the presentation of Laurent Blanc to the press. But it’s always difficult when you’re an entrepreneur, and a man who appreciates human relations, to make decisions too early without being certain that they are the best. We always try to weigh the economic, sporting and human elements. “Not sure that the order of the criteria listed by the president of OL is a coincidence, as the sporting requirement has crumbled over the long reign of JMA. His difficulty in separating from “a good, intelligent and loyal man”, but without the slightest continuity in the game and the results for 16 months, is undoubtedly the most striking symbol of this.
Why did Laurent Blanc (56 years old) lose, in parallel with the decline of Lyon, the thread of a coaching career started on the hats of wheels (15 trophies accumulated in 9 years)? His dismissal from PSG in June 2016, four months after being extended, obviously marks a turning point. “For two years, I needed to breathe, I was not ready to leave, confided the former central defender on Monday. This is where I had the most opportunities to come back to football. I did not enter them, it is a choice that I assume completely. Afterwards, I was open to any proposal because this desire, this sport, I have in my guts. When time passes, we forget you… But I don’t think Olympique Lyonnais has forgotten me. »
“Not many candidates come close to him”
After a hardly elegant pirouette to place the sole responsibility for the choice of Rudi Garcia in October 2019 on the shoulders of Juninho without even naming him directly, Jean-Michel Aulas was obviously rave about another “President” , ignoring the bad reputation of Blanc, that of the inveterate golfer dependent on the work of his historic ex-assistant Jean-Louis Gasset. The 98 world champion knows this well, he also answered between the lines on Monday, promising his group a lot of work, a word “that he knows, even if you think that for me it has another meaning” .
“I have always dreamed of having Laurent Blanc as coach of Olympique Lyonnais, thus quickly dropped JMA on Monday. I know perfectly well his attachment to football, his professionalism and his desire to win. There weren’t many candidates who came close to him. »
We want to believe it given the usual ideas of OL’s sports management, while Vincent Ponsot and Bruno Cheyrou remained silent during the 50-minute press conference on Monday, a rarity which raises questions about their future role with the club. former coach of the Blues. Nevertheless, how disconnected has Laurent Blanc been from European football since 2016? “I didn’t keep myself very far from football, I can assure you that I saw a lot of matches”, assures the person concerned. “As neighbors at Bouscat, near Bordeaux, we often met and talked about football,” says Jimmy Briand. I know he never stopped following the French championship in which he shone so well. »
“The players will be surprised”
The current consultant for Prime Video shares another point in common with Laurent Blanc: that of having only seen OL’s last two games this season, in Lens (1-0) and against Toulouse (1-1), once Lyon’s interest in him was activated by a phone call from JMA. This surprising admission by Lolo White on Monday makes it possible to remember, no doubt, why he did not get the job three years ago against Rudi “powerpoint” Garcia. Nevertheless, for a coach who has not exercised at the highest level for six years, and who has only led a single training session with his new club, this one presented a solid inventory of Lyon’s ills.
We want to make this workforce understand that they deserve much better, but they still need to be aware of the weekly work to be done. The responsibility of the players is engaged and I think they are aware of it. They are going to be surprised because there will be a lot of work which is going to be significant, with very high level athletic preparation. »
Between “an unfeigned emergency situation” and a tackle against “experienced players who do not bring what they should bring”, Laurent Blanc was able to frankly list the areas of progress for an OL he knows behind in the race for Europe. “If you can’t write a story, you have trouble making an impression and winning titles,” he continues. We are trying to write a story. »
Can his outstanding track record and his foresight make him legitimate to move the lines in a purring club? His speech contrasts in any case with the lack of chronic self-criticism of his new boss, who continues to harp on his past glory as a retired general. “I had the chance to win with the men’s and women’s teams just over 50 titles, JMA once again released. I was able to face all the situations, sometimes critical. And at the end of the day, we knew how to make the right decisions to win. “If we ignore the last ten years (no title and a second place in Ligue 1 only twice for men), we could almost agree with him.
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