Saturday, May 30, 2020

Etienne – Lyon: Claude Puel and Jean-Michel Aulas, story of a love affair

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For his first game, the new coach of the Greens is opposed to Olympique Lyonnais, he left in 2011 after a long psychodrama.

Time to Reading 2 min.

Before signing in Saint-Etienne, Claude Puel headed Leicester for a year and a half. PAUL ELLIS / AFP

The schedule of Ligue 1 is joker. Called Friday, October 4 to the rescue by Saint-Etienne, Claude Puel began his coaching two days later against Olympique Lyonnais, he coached for three years (2008-2011). "No spirit of revenge"he said, without having to ask him if there was one. Because between Jean-Michel Aulas and him, the idyll ended very badly. The President of OL has obviously not forgotten anything: " I hope they do not (name) only to fight, because they will be disappointed Commented his former boss with acidity.

Between the businessman and the most capped coach of the championship (577 games at the head of a Ligue 1 team), the debut was idyllic. Named in 2008 at the head of a hegemonic Lyon team on the national stage, but disappointing on the European scene, Claude Puel arrives with the mission to give a course to the club.

Jean-Michel Aulas, under the charm, entrusts him with expanded powers: recruitment and training are also in his attributions, an unprecedented decision within the club. The president does not hide his love at first sight, saying that " he is the boss And going so far as to claim to have found " the future Arsène Wenger ".

A comparison that, after the three years Puel, does not seem meaningless: as the coach of the Gunners, his mentor, the Lyon coach raises no trophy from 2008 to 2011. The OL, who remained on seven league titles consecutive wins only a third place at the end of the first season, behind Bordeaux and Marseille.

"Puel, Saint-Etienne! "

Jean-Michel Aulas remains loyal to his coach and opens his checkbook – more than 70 million invested during the transfer window of summer 2009. But the recruitment of Lisandro Lopez, Michel Bastos and Bafetimbi Gomis is not enough to straighten a club that ends the championship of France at the second step of the podium, however reaching a historic semifinal in the Champions League against Bayern Munich.

The 2010-2011 season begins catastrophically, with only one win in the first seven days. Claude Puel finds himself isolated in the club and faces the skepticism of his players. " But there is no one the coach! ", Released Cree, comments reported Saturday by L'Equipe, eight years later. A few days later, the mainstay of the Lyon defense will be invited by Jean-Michel Aulas to reiterate his remarks in front of his coach.

The fans are just as severe, until showing their dissatisfaction in the city center of Lyon where flourish about fifty banners and " Puel resignation A few days after a defeat at Gerland against the eternal Saint-Etienne rival. During this 100th derby, another banner in stands, premonitory: "Puel, Saint-Etienne! "

Lyon's failures in the league sounded the death knell of the Puel era, which ended its last season in third place. The divorce will be painful: the OL takes the excuse of an email to which Claude Puel did not answer to dismiss him for serious misconduct. The coach, bruised, will attack the OL before the labor courts, claiming five million euros he will not get, despite an appeal and an appeal on points of law.

Since then, his career has rebounded in Nice, known a few hiccups in the ruthless Premier League – Southampton and Leicester – but he returns to Saint-Etienne with attributions as broad as in Lyon, formerly. Winning Sunday night, he would not only take the Greens out of the relegation zone; Claude Puel would plunge in spite of himself Sylvinho, his distant successor, in the situation he knew.

Vincent Bresson

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