All change at Stade de Gerland
It has been a busy week at Stade de Gerland, with Remi Garde letting his contract run down at the club and thus stepping down from his position as Olympique Lyonnais manager. However, a replacement has been brought in to take control of the previously vacant role.
Former manager Garde took charge of the club as manager, in 2011, having played for Lyon in a six year spell as a player as well as having numerous backroom roles after his retirement from playing. The Frenchman led Olympique Lyonnais to one Coupe de France trophy as well as the Trophée des champions, during his tenure but after the 2013/14 campaign has decided to step down from his role.
The 2013/14 season promised so much at the beginning too with the club set to compete in the UEFA Champions League. Lyon began with victory over Grasshoppers Zurich in the third qualifying round of the Champions League, all very positive, however were eventually dismantled 4-0 on aggregate in the play off round by a vastly superior Real Sociedad side and thus missed out on a place in the group stage.
It was a tough domestic season too, with the club having to rely on youth, but they did a good job in reaching the Coupe de France final even if their final league finish of 5th could have been better. They did face disappointment in the cup final losing to Paris Saint Germain despite a good performance. For some though the loss further signified the change in fortunes over the past few years for Lyon, once best in France, now they were slipping away from the top even more.
Garde subsequently announced his decision to not renew his deal at the club which was due to expire in the summer, saying that personally he needed a break from football. With Garde’s departure, it was expected that another Frenchman would fill his place, in the form of Hubert Forunier. In fact, Lyon had made the approach with the 45 year old looking set to sign on before a sudden U-turn saw him walk away from the offer.
Hubert Forunier (left) looked set to take over as the new Olympique Lyonnais boss before walking away from the approach, last minute, with ex Lyon star Juninho (right) taking over instead.
Again though the board of directors have acted swiftly in making the move for another man to lead the club forward, and this time their approach has been accepted with club legend Juninho appointed as the new boss. Full name of Antônio Augusto Ribeiro Reis, the iconic Brazilian retired from playing professional in February 2014 concluding his career Vasco da Gama. At Olympique Lyonnais he enjoyed the best time of his career, playing a significant role in helping the club to seven consecutive Ligue 1 titles before leaving in 2009. He scored 100 goals in 350 games, and since his retirement had been taking his coaching badges.
Now, his beloved Lyon have taken the gamble on him with the club throwing a 1 year deal his way, for the renowned free kick takers first ever managerial position. Although the squad he has inherited features some very talented players such as Clement Grenier, Alekandre Lacazatte and Samuel Umtiit, there are questions over these players’ futures and his first task will be to clear the rumours up and move on to any potential transfer business. One transfer he will definitely have to look into is the addition of a new striker, with previous talisman Bafétimbi Gomis having left the club this summer on a free transfer to English Premier League side Swansea City.
There is no doubt these questions and plenty more will be asked in Juninho’s first press conference which is scheduled to be held tomorrow morning. Is this the start of something special or are Olympique Lyonnais destined to head on a downwards spiral even further away from the Ligue 1 title returning, and any glory at all?