Who would want to coach Lyon?

The Lyon coaching chair is waiting...any takers?

In the last few months, there has been much discussion on if Lyon coach Claude Puel should be staying with the team, or if Lyon Chairman Jean-Michel Aulas should possibly look at other options.

And while Lyon did have a poor start to the Ligue 1 season, they have finally been able to turn it around, and are now only two points out of first place. Can you say that Puel was part of this new transformation? Who knows. But one could easily say that new players, along with injuries to key players, might have caused Lyon to have a bumpy start to the season.

But even if Aulas wanted to replace Puel, who in their right mind would want to coach Lyon right now? True, they might be a Champions League favorite and they do have a talent pool that, I personally feel, is only rivaled in France by Marseille and Lille, and barely at that. But even with these positives, there are some negatives that might make prospective candidates think twice before taking a job at the Stade de Gerland.

First, you have the issue of Aulas himself. As we have seen, it seems that someone needs to be an Aulas “yes man” and not really have their own opinion. Take Gerard Houllier for example. As soon as the relationship between Houllier and Aulas started to turn sour, Houllier was out of there.

But even if a manager is a “yes man” to Aulas, the managerial position at Lyon is like a revolving door. In the last ten years, Lyon has had six different managers. And out of those six, three of them (Santini, Le Guen and Houllier) were either proven managers before they arrived or have been proven after their departure. Therefore, keeping quality managers at Lyon seems to be a challenge.

In addition to any personal problems a manager might have with Aulas, there is the issue of changing dynamics within Ligue 1 in the last 10 years. Back when Lyon won their seven championships in a row, there was a lack of consistent competition to challenge Lyon for that top spot. Therefore Lyon, who has a great youth system, were able to take advantage of the Ligue 1 atmosphere by having an edge talent-wise because most of the French talent at this time was leaving for other countries.

But nowadays, there is a lot of talent staying in France. In addition, there is more African talent coming into the country, which is making teams like Rennes, Lille and others more competitive. The only place where Ligue 1 seems to have taken a slight hit is in the importation of quality Brazilian players (though Juninho and Ronaldinho set the bar pretty damn high). Still, that doesn’t mean that Ligue 1 doesn’t have quality Brazilians, like Nene and Michel Bastos. They just don’t have Ronaldinho anymore.

Basically, it is a lot harder nowadays to plow through the Ligue 1 competition than it was during, lets say, Gerard Houllier’s time.

Also,  Aulas was able to make money on the youngsters that came through his system. In Simon Kuper’s book Soccernomics, he specifically talks about Lyon. And one of the first rules that Lyon has is that any player is up for sale, if the price is right. Toulouse could have learned something from this in regards to Andre-Pierre Gignac.

Therefore, if a Lyon manager wants to keep a player like Loic Remy, Karim Benzema or someone else, the manager really has no say. The decision starts and ends with Aulas and special advisor Bernard Lacombe.

Therefore, being a Lyon coach, one would have to deal with Aulas, who can be difficult to deal with on many levels.

But it isn’t just the Lyon chairman that any new coach would have to deal with. There is a second factor that the coach would deal with which would be just as big of a factor…the fans.

First of all, lets look at Puel and his time at Lyon. He finished 3rd in his first year and 2nd last year. In addition, Lyon managed to make it out of the group stage of the Champions League both of those seasons. They even made it to the semifinals of the Champions League last there. So, overall, Puel has done a good job as manager.

But, after winning seven championships in a row, I think there is very little room for error for any Lyon manager with the fans. Because of their inflated heads when it come to being superior over all, there seems to be a feeling that if the team finishes a horrible 2nd place, that the coach needs to be fired.

Basically, the fan atmosphere in Lyon has become one of perfection. And if a manager isn’t perfect, then he needs to be sacked.

But what many Lyon fans don’t realize is that Ligue 1 is more competitive now, and the days of having that type of perfection is over.

So, I ask, why would anyone want to be the next manager of Lyon? You have a chairman that you will be at odds with, not only with money, but player transfers as well. Also, you have the fans that require a new manager that will lead them to their next streak of seven straight titles. And in today’s Ligue 1 environment, that is nearly impossible.

Therefore, Lyon, be happy to have Claude Puel. Because, honestly, I don’t know who else would be crazy enough to take the position.

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2 Responses

  1. […] Lyon have also suffered a lackluster start to their Ligue 1 season, although with their 3-1 win over Lens this weekend Claude Puel’s team now stand only two points out of the Ligue 1 top spot.  The difficulty for Lyon is that there are eight teams bunched at the top of Ligue 1, with each between 24 and 22 points accumulated so far this year.  Lyon have fared much better in Champions League play, with only a 4-3 loss to Benfica keeping them from a perfect Champions League record.  For more information about Lyon and the coaching hot seat currently occupied by Puel, see our sister blog Ligue 1 Talk  http://ligue1talk.com/2010/11/22/who-would-want-to-coach-lyon/ . […]

  2. Lyon are the future, though it’s arriving slowly in some places. Maybe in England the manager is all-powerful, but elsewhere the head coach is a coach, not a manager.

    Puel is a coach. And whoever replaces him will be a coach. It doesn’t mean he’s emasculated, less than a man, if he doesn’t make all the decisions.

    Only in football (at some clubs) can you have a manager, with a president & a board above him — yet the manager makes all the decisions (so long as they have the money.) The coach is paid to coach. And if you want to coach at a team with impressive resources & some great players, then you’ll want to coach Lyon. If you just want to have all the power, maybe a lesser team with a smaller budget is best.

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