Lyon’s 1-0 defeat to Bordeaux last Sunday was already their 4th of the league season. To comparison, the 7-times French champions lost 7 all season last year. Whilst there’s still plenty to go until the end of season 2009/2010, the title is slipping further and further away from Claude Puel and his team.
Claude Puel came to Lyon in summer 2008. The former Monaco player had built himself a very good reputation at Lille. The team, which is yet to win the French league, was a regular in the Champions League under him.
Lyon brought Puel in to succeed Alan Perrin, who, as things have worked out, won Lyon their last of the 7 league titles, which they won in a row. Perrin was also the first ever manager to deliver the league and cup double for the club, so naturally expectations were high.
And it got off to a good start. Even though the team lost Trophée des Champions (the French Super Cup), league form was good and at one point Lyon had a healthy 5 point lead over the rest of the pack. But in the end they literally lost it though and had to settle for a very unusual place for them, 3rd with 9 points behind winners Bordeaux with Marseille in the middle.
A failure of all kinds for a team, who had dominated the league in the 21st century with 7 consecutive league wins. Puel, much thanks to his good reputation, managed to keep his job, though.
Even though the team showed great football in the Champions League and qualified with ease for the next round, this season has come over very solid rocks so far. It was rosy until the middle of October, but with a shock 2-0 defeat at home versus Sochaux the wheels seem to have come off. A 4-1 mauling by Nice followed and after 5 winless matches, the first being the famous 5-5 draw with Marseille, the club is now lingering on a lowly 9th position, 8 points off leaders Bordeaux, who to be fair have also already lost 4 matches this season, but Laurent Blanc has managed to motivate his players better to bounce back and look to be ready to run away with the league.
Puel has also been looked at as a good motivator, but the results are beginning to frustrate fans and probably also president Jean-Michel Aulas. There have been a lot of injuries for Lyon this season, but the squad is big and you’d expect the club to swiftly get through them. At least you’d not expect the team to lose to the likes of Sochaux or draw with whipping boys Grenoble, which happened four match days ago.
Claude Puel is walking on a thin line. Whilst his team showed, at times, immense football in Europe, locally they’re losing their power. Luckily for the 48-year old, Lyon’s next fixture is against 2nd from bottom Boulogne. But if a win doesn’t come there, it’s no doubt au revoir for Mr. Puel.