The marriage between Laurent Blanc and OL, “necessarily a win-win” after such a journey through the desert?

At the OL training center,

Paradoxically, in their worst moment in twenty years, Olympique Lyonnais has just attracted their coach with the most prestigious resume. Winner of the French championship four times, at the helm of Girondins de Bordeaux and then of PSG, and former manager of the Blues from 2010 to 2012, Laurent Blanc is in fact the most imposing manager in the entire history of OL alongside Gérard Houllier. (from 2005 to 2007). Except that his last six seasons, far removed from the radars of European football (a single 14-month experience in Qatar with Al-Rayyan), are unlikely to reassure Lyon fans. Having just investigated a 7th-place finish in Ligue 1 with a former OM manager they hated (in 2020), then an 8th-place finish with a totally lost manager last season, they no longer find themselves in a near-unknown for their favorite club, in the midst of a lasting “downgrade” with his decade without a single title.

The last chance for both parties?

Does this mean that the path between Laurent Blanc (signed until June 2024) and Jean-Michel Aulas crosses at the best possible time, after a lost meeting during the post-Sylvinho period in October 2019? « Laurent Blanc rests on the exceptional results in France, and he will enter the nouveau is forcibly du gagnant-gagnant pour lui et pour l’OL, estimates Jimmy Briand, ex-attaquant lyonnais ayant côtoyé Lolo White lors de convocations avec l’équipe from France. Thanks to his natural aura, he knows how to turn a team around, remobilize players within and carry their winning culture. All this is missing for a club currently in sporting difficulties at all levels, with a 9th place, 11 points behind Lorient (2nd), and a dark streak of 5 games without a win that ended up being fatal for Peter Bosz on Sunday.

For his first head coaching role in Europe in six years, Laurent Blanc appeared on Monday with a smile alongside his new president, Jean-Michel Aulas. – OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP

“When time passes, you forget…”

“We assume our responsibilities, some will think that they may have been taken late,” said Jean-Michel Aulas on Monday, during the presentation of Laurent Blanc to the press. But it’s always hard when you’re an entrepreneur and a man who appreciates human relationships, making decisions too soon without being sure they’re the best. We always try to weigh the economic, sporting and human elements. “I’m not sure the order of criteria listed by the OL chairman is a coincidence, as the sporting requirement has collapsed over JMA’s long reign. His difficulty in separating himself 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 it.

Why did Laurent Blanc (56 years old) lose, parallel to the decline of Lyon, the thread of a coaching career that began in 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 he needed to breathe, he was not ready to leave,” the former central defender confided on Monday. This is where I had more opportunities to return to football. I did not enter them, it is a choice that I fully assume. Then I opened myself up to any proposal because you want this sport, I have it in my gut. When time passes, we forget you… But I don’t think Olympique Lyonnais has forgotten me. »

“Not many candidates come close to him”

After an inelegant pirouette to place sole responsibility for Rudi Garcia’s election in October 2019 on Juninho’s shoulders without even naming him directly, Jean-Michel Aulas was obviously excited about another “President”, ignoring Blanc’s bad reputation. , that of the inveterate golfer dependent on the work of his historic former assistant Jean-Louis Gasset. The 98 world champion knows it well, he also responded between the lines on Monday, promising a lot of work to his group, a word “that he knows, even if you think it has another meaning for me”.

“I always dreamed of having Laurent Blanc as coach of Olympique Lyonnais so I quickly left JMA on Monday. I know perfectly how attached he is 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 the OL sporting management, while Vincent Ponsot and Bruno Cheyrou remained silent during Monday’s 50-minute press conference, an oddity that raises questions about their future role at the club. . However, just how out of touch has Laurent Blanc been with European football since 2016? “I did not stay far away from football, I can assure you that I saw many games,” says the interested party. “As residents of Bouscat, near Bordeaux, we often got together and talked about football,” says Jimmy Briand. I know that he never stopped following the French championship in which he shone so well. »

Jimmy Briand, here in September 2010 at Clairefontaine, during one of his appearances for France during Laurent Blanc's two years at the helm of the Blues.
Jimmy Briand, here in September 2010 at Clairefontaine, during one of his appearances for France during Laurent Blanc’s two years at the helm of the Blues. – BORIS HORVAT / AFP

“The players are going to be surprised”

The current Prime Video advisor shares another point in common with Laurent Blanc: having seen only the last two OL games this season, at Lens (1-0) and against Toulouse (1-1), once interest was activated from Lyon for him. by a phone call from JMA. This surprising confession of Lolo White this Monday allows to remember, without a doubt, why he had not had the position three years ago without facing Rudi “powerpoint” García. Yet for a manager who hasn’t trained at the highest level for six years, and has only run a single training session with his new club, this presented a solid inventory of Lyon’s ills.

We want this workforce to understand that they deserve much better, but they still need to be aware of the weekly work they have to do. The responsibility of the players is compromised and I think they are aware of it. They will be surprised because there will be a lot of work that will be important, with a very high-level sports preparation. »

Between “an unfeigned emergency situation” and a tackle against “experienced players who don’t bring what they should bring”, Laurent Blanc was able to candidly 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 a good impression and winning titles,” he continues. We are trying to write a story. »

Can his sterling track record and foresight make him legitimate to move the lines at a purring club? His speech contrasts in any case with the lack of chronic self-criticism of his new boss, who continues to insist on his past glory as a retired general. “I had the opportunity to win just over 50 titles with the men’s and women’s teams, announced JMA once again. I was able to face all 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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