How did OL suffer an inevitable "downgrade" in Ligue 1?

How did OL suffer an inevitable “downgrade” in Ligue 1?

“I was upset and irritated that the team is cheesy, which I can’t stand. For a group that is where it is, it is abnormal, unacceptable. It is my role and my duty as president to react. No, this media outing of Jean-Michel Aulas did not come after Olympique Lyonnais’ fourth consecutive loss on Sunday at Lens (1-0), but after the equally dark previous series, it’s been 31 years. At the time, Raymond Domenech was a young coach and Bruno Genesio a valuable midfielder for this Lyon team.

But although OL was still a long way from leaning on the French football chessboard, in March 1991 its ambitious president was much more demanding than today. Before Toulouse’s high-risk reception this Friday (9:00 p.m.), the JMA spent its week supporting Peter Bosz and demanding “patience” from him, while his team (7th) is in full throttle, 10 points behind the Marseille rival ( 2nd), and even 8 lengths from Lorient (3rd) in just 9 Ligue 1 games.

So often involved in poor defensive shots since his replacement, Thiago Mendes was the author of a fatal handball that resulted in Florian Sotoca's goal from the penalty spot, on Sunday at Lens (1-0).
So often involved in poor defensive shots since his replacement, Thiago Mendes was the author of a fatal handball that resulted in Florian Sotoca’s penalty goal, on Sunday at Lens (1-0). -Samer Al-DOUMY / AFP

“Athletes are no longer the top priority at OL”

“The president should have made the same speech on Sunday as in 1991, confesses Gilles Rousset, OL goalkeeper during this 1990-1991 season that finished in 5th place, just two years after rising into the elite. There is a big gap between his current statements and what we can see on the pitch, that is, the absence of play, creativity and overcoming. It is a situation of denial: everything falls apart but those in charge do not see it, or do not say it. For 15 years, until 2019, Gilles Rousset was the goalkeeping coach of the academy and then the assistant coach of the reserve team and the OL U19s. He now throws a look as severe as lucid on the evolution of the club.

By emotionally disassociating myself from OL since 2019, I became aware of the fall of the club, which has lost its soul. Everyone pulls in their own direction. The move from Gerland to Décines was fundamental financially, but it was an earthquake in terms of mood. The training, which is in Meyzieu, is now isolated from the professionals. There are offices, commissions and directors everywhere, and the athlete is no longer the top priority at OL. In 1991, the media had nothing to do but the ambition was there. It was a construction phase, and here we are in full deconstruction. We are going through a downgrade. »

Always in the Top 5 from 1998 to 2020

Word got out and it makes sense as Lyon have been mired in mediocrity for a long time. Since their Champions League semi-final in 2010, French football’s second-best budget has only finished in second place twice (2015 and 2016) in 12 Ligue 1 seasons. The partners of Anthony Lopes, who re-introduced the Wednesday to OL as “one of the biggest clubs in Europe”, they are even launching themselves towards a fourth consecutive year without a podium, and therefore without qualifying for the Champions League. Worse yet, while Lyon had never been out of the Top 5 since 1998, they just had a 7th place in 2020 (season halted by Covid-19), an 8th place in 2022, and are vegetating back in 7th. place. All under the benevolent gaze of a boss above all (concerned) for long weeks about the thorny sale of the club to John Textor.

“In 2002, the year of our first win in Ligue 1, we were quickly knocked out of both domestic cups, as well as the UEFA Cup, recalls former Lyon defender Jean-Marc Chanelet. The president had entered the locker room to make us aware of the consequences of not qualifying for the Champions League. Then we understood our essential role in maintaining the economic balance of the club and all its employees in the shadows. Twenty years ago, in the worst case there was a general questioning after two defeats, and not after four setbacks. »

On May 4, 2002, OL was proclaimed champion of France for the first time in its history, beating Lens in Gerland (3-1) on the last day.
On May 4, 2002, OL was proclaimed champion of France for the first time in its history, beating Lens in Gerland (3-1) on the last day. – PHILIPPE MERLE / AFP

Nine regular clubs outside PSG for ten years

And once again, the Lyon fans are waiting to see a collective reaction worthy of the name this Friday, after the bad game in Lens (1-0 without the slightest shot on goal). “Before this match, I had no illusions anyway, sighs RIchard, underwriter of the southern turn. It was inevitable that we were going to be defeated there, just like everywhere else outside now. Our degradation is done naturally when we see that at the beginning of October, the podium can no longer be played for a so-called great French club. »

Faced with the hexagonal dominance of the Parisian ogre version QSI for a decade, the economic argument continues to point more frequently to justify the endless shortage of titles in Lyon since the 2012 Coupe de France. However, Montpellier, Monaco and Lille were proclaimed champions of France during this period, and ASSE, Bordeaux, Guingamp, Strasbourg, Rennes and Nantes won a national cup. As many titles as the budget of the second Ligue 1 followed from afar.

Players “overprotected and clear”

“The worst thing is that you have nevertheless put in resources in recent years, with more than 80 million euros spent that have not served you at all between Andersen, Reine-Adélaïde, Mendes, Faivre and so many other recruits, plague Richard. This supporter points to a clamorous barometer of Lyon’s demotion: “At one point when our players left OL, it was to join big clubs. Today, the starters are going to sign for Aston Villa, Burnley or Herta Berlin”…

According to Richard, the end of the demand dates back to the epilogue of the Hubert Fournier era, sacked in December 2015 after a disastrous first part of the season: “During the three and a half years with Bruno Genesio, there were excuses for everything. overprotecting and clearing the players, from refereeing to snack time, posing a problem in the event of a match at 1 or 3 p.m. Who would have imagined, in the middle of the 2000s, that Jean-Michel Aulas would not separate immediately of a manager who completed a full season without European qualification, before going on four straight defeats?

“We have to find a way to renew ourselves”

According to our information, the OL leadership, represented by the Aulas-Ponsot-Cheyrou trio, wanted to meet last spring with the two main groups of Lyon supporters, namely Bad Gones and Lyon 1950, to ask them about their reaction if Peter Bosz is retained for 2022-2023. So they were in favor of this option. This was able to console the Lyon leaders in their surprising choice, which is accompanied by a flat encephalogram in the game Even during the lean period foreseen by the JMA, with a view to the construction of the OL Park, the OL Garde de Rémi (4th , 3rd and 5th from 2011 to 2014) delighted his followers much more than today.

Examples of clubs in progressive decline, after having been dominant, are not lacking in France, from ASSE to Bordeaux. The one potentially closest to Lyon news is FC Nantes, French champions in 1995 and 2001, and winners of the 1999 and 2000 editions of the Coupe de France, before falling into the underbelly of the championship, then in Ligue 2 twice. (2007 and 2009). With the key 21 years without a title, until the Coupe de France with Antoine Kombouaré last May. Olivier Quint, who played for Beaujoire from 2001 to 2006, remembers this degradation of the Canary Islands.

When you have won so many titles, you are still a great club. We cling to everything done, we told ourselves that I could come back. But we have to find a way to renew ourselves, to recover ourselves, precisely when OL emerged in the early 2000s. There were the departure of great figures like Eric Carrière, then Mickaël Landreau and Jérémy Toulalan, but the big turning point was the dismissal of Raynald Denoueix in December 2001. The new management relied less and less on the training center and signed players who did not fit into the club’s project. »

Here, on August 31, during the brief win (2-1) against AJ Auxerre, Rayan Cherki (19) takes time to fully blossom with his training club.
Here, on August 31, during the brief win (2-1) against AJ Auxerre, Rayan Cherki (19) takes time to fully blossom with his training club. -Laurent Cipriani/AP/SIPA

Rayan Cherky’s symbol

The second part of Olivier Quint’s explanation corresponds better to Lyon’s current slump than to the first, when we see how young shooters Castello Lukeba and Malo Gusto (both 19) settle on the front line, with no real competition for supposed. . “We feel a general resignation, a somewhat apathetic group, and not a united team that hates defeat, continues Jean-Marc Chanelet. The players are overrated and comfortable in terms of salary. Compared to the 2000s, OL pays a player slightly above his potential rather than what he has already shown at the club with the pro team. It will not encourage players to hurt each other and pull in the same direction that a team like RC Lens can show. »

One can think in particular of the situation of Rayan Cherki (19 years old), who has just extended an estimated monthly salary above 200,000 euros gross, while he only has 1 goal scored and 9 stays in Ligue 1. One of the many peculiarities of a club with an unbalanced squad, which discovers new direct competitors every year, from Rennes to Lens, and now even Lorient. Damn endless degradation.

#suffer #inevitable #downgrade #Ligue

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