Bruno Genesio’s job security may soon in question, after his Lyon side let a two goal lead slip at Lille and were forced to share the spoils with the relegation strugglers.
The manager’s decision to leave club captain Nabil Fekir on the bench raised some eyebrows, and his team’s defensive problems surfaced again after a brace from Bertrand Traore appeared to put Lyon in control.
The Burkina Faso winger has now scored six goals this season, since joining from Premier League champions Chelsea in the summer. But his determination and clinical nature leading the line was undone by sloppy play at the back, as Lille clawed back into the fixture for a well-deserved point.
Lyon entered the half time interval two goals to the good, but recent performances have shown a fragility holding onto leads – not least when Genesio’s side shipped a last-gasp stoppage time finish to fall to defeat at defending champions Monaco a few weeks ago.
Despite a French Cup triumph over Montpellier a fortnight ago, there is a feeling surrounding the Groupama Stadium that the progress made simply papered over cracks.
The first leg triumph in the Europa League Round of 32 showed impressive progress in Europe, and Lyon will be expecting to progress to the latter rounds of the competition.
However, Genesio’s job is almost certain to be judged on his side’s domestic progress. Les Gones are in the midst of a four game winless run in France’s top flight, surprisingly coming after a gritty home victory over runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
An away tie at Bordeaux resulted in a 3-1 loss for Genesio’s men, who were outmatched on every area of the pitch by a rejuvenated outfit under their new manager, Gus Poyet. The next week saw Lyon start quickly at title holders Monaco, after goals from Mariano and Traore in the first 30 minutes. But the lead was quickly ripped apart by Leonardo Jardim’s talented squad, who stole all three points two minutes from time.
This insecurity at the back continued, after sloppy goals were conceded against Montpellier and Rennes, who ran out surprise 2-0 winners at the Groupama. A stonewall penalty appeal from Fekir was waved away by the referee, and, despite constant pressure during the second half, Lyon were unable to find a way back into the game. James Lea Siliki’s ruthless finish deep into stoppage time neatly summed up the precarious rut that Les Gones found themselves in.
While supporters openly cast their doubts about the figure at the helm of the club, Genesio will have to prove to both the Lyon faithful and those in the boardroom that he is still the man to take the club forward.
But despite the apparent doom and gloom at the side, a place in the Champions League for next season is still a possibility. Marseille sit in third place, in the last automatic qualifying spot for Europe’s elite tournament, and have a six point gap between themselves and Lyon. However, the positions of both sides is sure to switch in the latter part of the season, as Ligue 1 moves ever closer to concluding for another year.
Perhaps if Lyon can steal the last Champions League spot, and challenge in the final of the French Cup, then Genesio can reaffirm his position as the coach to lead the talents of Memphis Depay, Fekir and Houssem Aouar into the future.