Coach Hubert Fournier on his way out at Lyon
ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 18, 2015 11:08 AM
Lyon's coach Hubert Fournier smiles before the French League One soccer match between Lyon and Angers at Gerland stadium, in Lyon, central France, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
AP Sports Writer
PARIS (AP) — Lyon bid goodbye to its Gerland Stadium by winning a French League Cup match midweek. It's now ready to bid farewell to coach Hubert Fournier.
After leading the seven-time league champion to second place last season, Fournier has not been able to build on the momentum. Lyon is eliminated from all European competitions, and has taken just one point from its last five league games ahead of Sunday's trip to in-form Ajaccio in the last round before the winter break.
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas said there will be no coaching change before next year, but it seems highly unlikely that Fournier will still be in charge when Lyon moves into the new Stade des Lumieres on Jan. 9.
"During the winter break, we'll have to take stock of what we've done well and what we've done less well," Aulas said. "In that way, if there are decisions to be taken, we can take them during the winter break or wait for better days."
Last season, Lyon finished just eight points behind Paris Saint-Germain. After 18 rounds this season, Lyon is lagging 22 points behind the defending champion, which travels to fourth-place Caen on Saturday.
"Everyone has made mistakes: Players, president, and manager," Aulas said. "We can't think that, simply by waving a magic wand, things are going to work themselves out by only changing the manager or by changing one or two players."
So what happened to Lyon exactly?
Striker Alexandre Lacazette has not been able to replicate the form that made him the league's best striker last season, struggling with confidence and scoring just six league goals. More importantly, the players hired during the summer haven't gelled with the rest of the squad, and Fournier has been dealing with injuries that have hindered the team's progress.
Midfielder Nabil Fekir, one of France's most promising players, is still deeply missed after rupturing his right knee ligaments playing for the national team back in September.
"I can guarantee you that with Nabil we would be on the league's podium," Aulas said this season.
Here are some other things to know ahead of this weekend's matches:
LEONARDO NOT INTERESTED: Linked with a move to Lyon, former PSG sports director Leonardo has denied he wants to succeed Fournier.
"I've not spoken with Aulas, and Lyon did not get in touch with me," Leonardo said on Thursday after settling an old score with the French Football Federation.
Leonardo and the federation agreed to end their judicial battle which started after the Brazilian was handed a long suspension back in 2013 when he appeared to deliberately barge into a referee.
Arguing that his suspension affected both his image and reputation, Leonardo was seeking more than 8.5 million euros ($9.2 million) in compensation.
SIRIGU CONSIDERING MOVE AWAY FROM PSG: A fan's favorite at the Parc des Princes, Italy goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu has not had the trust of PSG coach Laurent Blanc.
Sirigu, who lost his starting spot after the arrival of Kevin Trapp this summer, earned only his second appearance of the season in a 1-0 win over Saint-Etienne midweek in the League Cup. Sirigu was loudly cheered by the fans, and said he was moved by their support. He admitted he could leave in January, though.
"When you are in my situation, you're ready to listen to everything that comes," Sirigu said. "It's normal, but for the moment I'm a PSG player. If there are offers, I will talk with my agent and the club and we will decide what is best for me."
Sirigu has not featured in the Champions league, which makes him eligible to play for a club qualified for the knockout phase of the competition.