Football : Olympique lyonnais, the model Aulas has reached its limits

Football : Olympique lyonnais, the model Aulas has reached its limits

The season 2016/17 Olympique lyonnais book a balance sheet of a paradox : a fourth honorable place in the league and a semi-final of the Europa League unexpectedly, the full entry into possession of the new stadium… but a dissatisfaction that is growing in supporters and doubts that are growing about the management of the club. With the second budget of League 1 [1], the OL fell short of its economic potential and sporting activities and the Park OL has lost nearly 10,000 spectators on average per match this season.

coach Bruno Génésio scoop of the bulk of the criticism, since his choice of players for his tactical options through his speech (read the article in the Libero Lyon). Tuesday, 16 may, president Jean-Michel Aulas, however, has confirmed in his position, rejecting both critical in this respect than those, more general, focusing on the current guidelines of the club. After thirty years of presidency, the model aulassien has it reached its limits ?



Coach of the occasion appointed in December 2015 after the dismissal of Hubert Fournier (in the case of figure unprecedented since that of Guy Stéphan in 1996), Bruno Génésio has been maintained to a good half-season that brought the team to second place in the championship. The former deputy would have neither the legitimacy nor the size sufficient to hold the rank of his club.

In the era Aulas, the status of the coaches of the OL has always held a character of uniqueness, which holds, in part, to a pervasive presidential and the sharing of power that comes with it. The presence of Bernard Lacombe at his side, into a role of semi-official but influential, has not helped to leave a very wide scope of responsibility in the sporting area. The freedom given to the coaches on their technical choices has been both preserved strictly enough, while being limited to the ground, leaving the sport strategy in the sphere of the president.

Also the choice that the trajectories of the coaches of the OL are significant, this balance became precarious today. Apart from Gerard Houllier (2005-2007) which had a status of “international” after his move to Liverpool, the OL is chosen from the year 2000 [2] French technicians, relatively young (46 years of average age at the time of their taking office), in a moment of ascendancy of their career. Manageable levels of investment that have been successful as long as the machine worked.



a Case rather rare, in this period, three coaches have left the club to themselves, then they were invited to remain : Jacques Santini (2000-2002), Paul Le Guen (2002-2005) and Remi Garde (2011-2014). Two have experienced situations especially conflict with the leaders : Alain Perrin (2007-2008) and Claude Puel (2008-2011). Quite striking is the observation that, outside of Claude Puel, the careers of these coaches have not had the suites are very notable. The choices of the recent past have, for their part, made it a priority from the seraglio with Rémi Garde (2011-2014) and Bruno Génésio, the parenthesis Hubert Fournier playing briefly with the profile of the French coach promising.

These choices confirm an ambition which is surprisingly modest for this post : despite its status as a european, the OL has never been the upcoming international reference on his bench. Jean-Michel Aulas, inclined to adopt the model of the clubs of the european elite, not imitated on this point, even when it began to significantly increase its investment in transfers. the ” A coach from abroad and its bonus economic can kill a club “, a-t-he assured, adding some perplexity.

Difficult not to see in it the sign of a choice not to value the technical sector, or a desire more or less conscious of not sharing the light, which leaves the coach in a position as a minor, and exposed. The ambiguity of the organizational chart does not arrange anything : the power lent to Bernard Lacombe is accompanied by a blur on his powers, and the return of Gérard Houllier in the summer of 2016 as an “outside advisor on sports matters” has especially led to a misunderstanding chronic between the two men [3].



maybe a-t-was it difficult to abandon a policy that had worked perfectly during the golden age. But at a time when some clubs succeed with foreign coaches and daring (Lucien Favre in Nice, Leonardo Jardim to Monaco), or at least take risks, to bet on the game (Lille, with Marcelo Bielsa, the PSG, with Unai Emery, the OM with Rudi Garcia), this policy appears as a stagnation, today embodied in his own flesh by Bruno Génésio.

Hugo Hélin, Libero Lyon, believes just that the frustration resides for a part in a show is often poor, and in the sequence of seasons without much relief, when other clubs of lesser financial stature are available of course exciting. With its resources and the quality of its training centre, the club would have certainly been able to develop its managers are likely to better promote the message to the capital, [4], but it still refuses to build the profile of these real leaders, athletes who operate in most of the ” big ” clubs – overseeing the recruitment, training and political tactics.

At the beginning of the week, Jean-Michel Aulas, however, has opened the door to the appointment of a “sporting director or technical” admitting the failure of the duo Houllier-Lacombe. Remains to be seen whether this appointment may correspond to actual rights and the full responsibility of the sport strategy. We can doubt when the president described the position rather like that of an “ambassador” or a mentor chosen from among the elders of the club. In sum, the institutional power is very strong, which has allowed the OL to develop now seems to limit this development, and even deprive him of sport project.



This cultural difficulty to change the model appears to be the symptom of a crisis of governance that is more holistic, which is also characterized by a loss of control which is reflected particularly in the communication of the club. It, trustée by a Jean-Michel Aulas who will always be associated – for better and for worse – its image to that of ” the institution OL “, is marked by misunderstandings growing with a fringe of supporters.

On the social networks, the multiplication of its about childhood and/or aggressive, sometimes to his own flock, crippled once again the thesis of a communication-controlled, aimed to make the hyper-president lyonnais a “screen” for the players and the coach. The use compulsive to provocations and sophisms acrobatic exacerbates a divorce that crystallizes, without the short, the revolt against Bruno Génésio. This time, the ” JMA ” keeps a coach that serves as a screen rather than the opposite, but he is exposed more and more to disallowance.

Jean-Michel Aulas has always been the best asset of the OL, and his greatest handicap. A long time, it did damage to the image of the club, and the balance remained largely positive – especially as the leader has managed to provoke a very strong support among fans. The strength of the model of lyon has been one of exceptional stability and policy coherence. It is not, of course, today, in danger of a bankruptcy or a severe regression. But because they have evolved, it reveals its weaknesses at the same time as the completion of the Park OL should mark something other than a culmination, and where is draws a new hierarchy for the League 1. the ” I think the time is not come to turn everything upside down “, said the president of lyon. This time may already be past.

[1] 250 million euros, less than half of what PSG, but 90 million more than the AS Monaco champion ; almost 200 more than the OGC Nice, who finished third, 11 points ahead of Lyon.
[2] When Bernard Lacombe became an advisor to the president.
[3] Bernard Lacombe displaying a long history of difficult relations with several coaches.
[4] The management of the recruitment and the training made the subject of criticism intensified, in recent times, even if Gerard Houllier conducted an audit on “the academy” and delivered recommendations.

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