Lyon have dismissed their head coach, Laurent Blanc, after a dismal start to the season with the team sitting bottom of the Ligue 1 table.
“Olympique Lyonnais and Laurent Blanc have mutually agreed to end their collaboration with effect from today,” Lyon said in a statement on Monday, adding that his assistants are also leaving the club.
“We would like to thank Laurent Blanc and his staff for their commitment and professionalism over the past 11 months at the helm of the team,” the statement concluded. Deputy coach Jean-François Vulliez has been appointed caretaker, working alongside former Lyon players Jérémie Bréchet and Sonny Anderson.
Blanc was appointed by Lyon in October last year, replacing Peter Bosz and leading the club to seventh place in Ligue 1 last season. This season has started disastrously, though, with Les Gones winless and in 18th place with one point after four games.
The former France and Paris Saint-Germain coach had even jokingly suggested the club should “change the coach” after a 4-1 home defeat by Montpellier last month. Their next home game, against PSG, ended with the same scoreline – leading club ultras to berate the players from the stands after full time.
French media have reported that Gennaro Gattuso is in the frame to replace Blanc at Lyon, who next play promoted side Le Havre at home on Sunday. The former Milan and Napoli manager, out of work since leaving Valencia in January, would face a battle to galvanise players who laboured under Blanc’s conservative style of play.
The seven-times French champions are also hampered by a boardroom battle between the majority owner, John Textor, and the former president Jean-Michel Aulas. Textor, a US businessman who also owns stakes in Crystal Palace and Brazilian club Botafogo, replaced Aulas as the Lyon president in May.
Aulas, who is still an honorary chairman, has not stepped back quietly after the end of his 36-year tenure as president. The relationship between the pair reached a new low in August, when a commercial tribunal ordered the club to freeze €14.5m of the club’s funds, corresponding to part of the money owed to Aulas for shares.
Through an official statement, Textor then accused Aulas of “initiating a violent and illegitimate attack on Olympique Lyonnais.” Both the old and new regimes are blaming each other for Lyon’s precarious financial position, with French football’s financial watchdog closely monitoring the club’s transfer activities.
The club sold more than €80m worth of players this summer and saw a number of others leave for free, with Houssem Aouar joining Roma and the forwards Moussa Dembélé and Karl Toko-Ekambi heading to Saudi Arabia.