Dropped in the rankings, players and managers are insulted one after another… Is Lyon facing its worst crisis yet?

at O.L. Park,

We prepare for almost everything as we follow Olympique Lyonnais’ Ligue 1 adventure every week. But we have to admit, we didn’t think to go to Google Translate, in the middle of the night, to find the exact word incompetent more understandable to John Textor than myth I recovered the ball by Nabil Fekir. And yes, as banners flew on Saturday night on the occasion of their eighth defeat in Ligue 1 this season against RC Strasbourg (1-2), including this one, well-chiselled in the south corner: “ John, the house is on fire, shoot incompetent (“John, house on fire, incompetent shoot”).

At 20:58, just before kick-off, the punch line laid the groundwork for a terrible night for Laurent Blanc’s players, together big goat held up at the north bend to accompany a banner in the same register: “Don’t let our clubs burn”. Because inevitably, the downgrade of OL’s official ranking, both the title stripped since 2012, but also Champions League qualification since 2019, has something to remind Lyon supporters, full of nostalgia when they talk about seven consecutive crownings in Ligue 1 in 2000- an.

“We are so close to relegation”

And how better to mark this observation, to premiere at the Parc OL of American businessman John Textor in the jersey of the club’s official majority shareholder, than to lose against the 19th in the championship, who until there had been only one success in 18 days, and none there have been wins at Lyon in Ligue 1 since 1979? Only to frantically do that, OL (currently 8th) ruined an finally coherent performance (28 shots to 8, 72% possession) by conceding a particularly mockery second goal, with a corner kicking in their favor early on, and at the end a series of dumplings for which he has a secret (0-2, 32).

“We punished ourselves with our clumsiness in the first half,” said Laurent Blanc. “There is shame, inevitably, when we see the hugely disappointing gap between our ranking, what we are doing at the moment, and our ambitions, even missing Alexandre Lacazette, whose expected penalty was not enough Saturday (1-2, 45+ ) 2). It’s very dangerous to see us so close to relegation. “Well, there is still a 10 point gap with the red zone, but at the same time, a much bigger gap with the podium (17 points), while the Top 5 could be 12 points depending on Sunday’s results.

“The whole team is affected”

The Lyon captain, who admitted the day before “not to look at the classification or the distance to the European places”, is doing well to recover: “When you play in OL, you can only think about the top of the table. There is only one victory that will help us lift our heads above the water.” Even next Saturday in the Coupe de France against Chambéry (National 3), and as a bonus at home, does that even count? It will no doubt need a superb draw to allow this group, who have scored in 270 minutes of play anyway (with a disputed penalty), to regain their ground.

And even more so to try to win back supporters who poured out all their frustrations on Saturday, after being held out for weeks. Banners depicting Houssem Aouar, Moussa Dembélé and Karl Toko Ekambi with the words “Get out”, a bronca rarely seen when the Cameroonian striker is away, as well as insults towards him… The Bad Gones and Lyon 1950 did not leave dead handed against Strasbourg. “Karl must be disappointed, and situations like that are never easy, commented Alexandre Lacazette. We are a collective, we will try to help him move forward. The whole team is affected. »

“We have identified a crime”

Jean-Michel Aulas, who spoke of a “feeling of waste” about the night turned upside down, looked less surprised than the treatment targeted certain players: “Supporters have the right to say what they think about the players, about the team, that’s the game. .” A nuanced position is not so surprising considering the president of Lyon willingly admitted that he wanted to significantly reform the workforce by January 31.

Over the last two days, we’ve been working with John to give ourselves the means to revive the mechanism, with a number of quick initiatives during the transfer window. We’re going to shake things up significantly before the end of the month. You really have to create a spark that will change mindsets. We’ve identified the evil as it is felt by supporters, but also clearly by us. »

It is therefore no surprise, for example, to see Karl Toko Ekambi (0 goals in his last 12 games since 11 September), who joined the locker room in fury as soon as he was substituted on Saturday, not without destroying trash. can, leave Lyon this winter. However, the players mentioned are not the only people who are in the spotlight of the support group. They did demand the resignation of director of football Vincent Ponsot (humiliated while going through the south bend) and hiring manager Bruno Cheyrou. And that, by no means passed on the side of Jean-Michel Aulas, who rarely returns.

“Unfair” attack on Ponsot and Cheyrou

“When they attack an exemplary leader, it’s me they attack, he balances. They have to stop, it’s so unfair. We have two high-quality leaders working day and night for the club, for us, for them. Therefore I cannot accept this style of expression that has no reality with the work being done. Leave Vincent Ponsot and Bruno Cheyrou alone. I’m the first person to judge them because I hired them. John is sad about the result and like me he had a bad experience in this game in terms of initiative from the stands. This attitude is unworthy of such a big club like Olympique Lyonnais. »

JMA has consistently maintained the record of its two top managers since Juninho’s controversial departure in December 2021. But it is clear that while in the eyes of a key support group he has remained the cornerstone for his entire work in the 2000s, this has not been the case. for Vincent Ponsot and Bruno Cheyrou. The turn fully associates them with a long period of club scarcity.

Laurent Blanc poses with Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas and club leaders Bruno Cheyrou and Vincent Ponsot during his presentation press conference in Décines on October 10.
Laurent Blanc poses with Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas and club leaders Bruno Cheyrou and Vincent Ponsot during his presentation press conference in Décines on October 10. – LAURENT CIPRIANI/AP/SIPA

“There will be turbulence”

Realizing that his club, which has lost three of its best players for two years (Memphis Depay, Bruno Guimaraes and Lucas Paqueta), is slowly but surely sinking into the soft bowels of the championship, Jean-Michel Aulas wants to reassure: it is true that we have a club that is suffering at the moment. this. But there is an amazing infrastructure and high quality trainers. All Laurent Blanc he is, he only let OL take 11 points in his first 9 matches, which is not enough to target Europe again. The former PSG coach cannot be separated from the crisis problem which last Saturday took the form of a deep fracture.

We were already in a difficult situation before that game, so you can imagine our situation now. But I tell the players that certain things have to be assumed. If we are there, it is also our fault. We have to assume everything that’s going on with him, and we know that there’s going to be some turbulence. »

This “turbulence”, which has never failed against Strasbourg (even with significant pre- and post-match overflows), is unlikely to cause Jean-Michel Aulas (73) to lose his good old pulling technique in the Coué method: “Tonight may be one of the best we’ve had since the start of the season. It shows that we have regained our dynamism, intensity and speed that we have been asking from the team for some time. I want everyone to realize that the club will recover. I am responsible for that. We are not the only club in Europe to suffer this. Look at Chelsea and the others”.

Well, what if the Textor-Aulas duo raise 120 million euros to outperform the Blues to the extreme in the Mykhaylo Mudryk file, and thus magically relaunch in 2023? OK, as credible as seeing Karl Toko Ekambi turn capo at the north corner after patching things up with Bad Gones, or finding OL on the Ligue 1 podium in June.

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