Laurent Blanc at OL, eleven months of failures with shared responsibilities

The ball for coaches dismissed during the 2023-2024 financial year is underway. Laurent Blanc, expected as the savior of Lyon too often absent from the European scene in recent seasons, will not have left a striking image in the capital of Gaul where his year will have been punctuated by the sale of the club and financial constraints important.

His hobby horse, the transfer market, has long served as an excuse after poor performances. “Some people call me a whiny person but I’m combativehe said at a press conference on August 25. The transfer window ends on August 31 and then it’s over. You’re not sure you’ll see the next door.“Almost a visionary on this, the 57-year-old coach had nevertheless asked to wait until the market closed to see his team’s progress. But the patience of the club’s new leaders has its limits. And ten days after the closing of the market in France, he was dismissed.

A disappointing game and results

Recently, the 4-1 defeat against PSG, a week after a very sad 0-0 in Nice, symbolized Lyon’s difficulties on the pitch. Too few forward projections and an almost wait-and-see defense against the Parisian offensives: it’s a whole workforce which, from the fourth day, seemed to have thrown in the towel. Despite nearly 11 months of work, Laurent Blanc’s touch has never taken hold within his workforce.

OL players after the defeat against PSG in Ligue 1.

Credit: Getty Images

The rather vague game project did not help in the quest for results. The Coupe de France semi-final was almost forgotten, as there were so many difficulties in the championship. Some prestigious victories like against Paris in April (1-0) or Monaco in May (3-1), but above all worrying defeats against smaller players like Clermont (2-1 and 1-0) or Auxerre (2 -1). Lyon under Laurent Blanc – and well before – was no longer scary. His record in 2022-2023 was not so negative with 14 wins in 28 games and a much better second half of the season, but remains the third worst of his career behind Bordeaux in 2009-2010 and Al-Rayyan in 2020- 2021, in terms of number of points per match.

Sales, injuries and reds

Not everything is to be blamed on the former coach, however. With the club’s financial problems, Blanc will never have had at his disposal a squad that matched his ambitions. The departures of Castello Lukeba then Bradley Barcola have, for example, been compensated by the loan of a losing Duje Caleta-Car and that of a Diego Moreira who has no experience at the top level, even if the promising Ernest Nuamah arrived in parallel.

Very few quality reinforcements despite a first season last season marked by injuries. Corentin Tolisso in the lead, absent in eight Ligue 1 games in 2022-2023, is still far from having made as good a return to his training club as Alexandre Lacazette. Behind, the absences of Anthony Lopes, Malo Gusto or even Dejan Lovren had regularly weakened the workforce in the second half of the season.


Lukeba and Barcola against Strasbourg.

Credit: Getty Images

Even before the start of this 2023-2024 financial year, the injury to the Lyon goalkeeper did not help Blanc. And when the captain of the club, second top scorer in the championship last season, Lacazette, was expelled on the second day, everything seemed to be bent on the French tactician. No doubt the results and the attitude of his team against Nice and PSG would have been different with their usual leader.

A communication that raises questions

Like all Ligue 1 coaches since the arrival of Amazon Prime in the broadcast market, the 57-year-old has always played the game of post-match fieldside interviews. The opportunity for him to send messages to his players, as was regularly the case with Rayan Cherki. But also to let your discontent be understood. After the home defeat against Montpellier, Blanc even spoke of “change coach“, as if the position no longer interested him.

This is reminiscent of his departure from the French team, notably caused by a bad understanding with Noël Le Graët. The former president of the French Football Federation then found his coach very little concerned with his mission. Here too, the tactician arrived in a context of crisis, that of a fiasco at the 2010 World Cup.

After this failed marriage, the future of Laurent Blanc, like that of Lyon, is quite vague. Will OL manage to get out of the results crisis? A question which could find as a first element of answer the scenario of Lyon – Le Havre, Sunday at 8:45 p.m.

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