When Jocelyn Gourvennec found himself packing up his office belongings into cardboard boxes, he may have allowed a little moment to reflect on the future of the club that had dismissed him.
The Brazilians in the side were running riot, with their ringleader clearly casting his gaze across the ocean to the attractive money pit of the Premier League. Another limp performance at home culminated in a 2-0 defeat to Caen, and the day ended with the board pulling the trigger on their manager.
In one last display of solidarity, veteran midfield Jeremy Toulalan demanded to be released from his contract after declaring his future would be decided by Gourvennec’s fate. Out with the old, in with the new.
And in came Gus Poyet, the ex-Brighton, Sunderland and Shanghai Shenhua manager, perhaps most famous for hearing about his sacking from the Seagulls while covering the FIFA Confederations Cup for the BBC.
Gourvennec would have had every right to be upset, confused and concerned that the foundations he had laid down at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux would be ripped up and forgotten about. But the board were forced into a position where they had to do something, and the beautiful game is notorious for not possessing a lot of patience. Results are required immediately, and this proved to be Gourvennec’s undoing.
His replacement’s appointment was lauded by some, but mocked by many.
However, Poyet’s start at Bordeaux has been close to perfect. A surprise home victory over high-flying Lyon kicked off his tenure in the best possible way, before a 2-0 win at Strasbourg propelled his new side into the top half of Ligue 1 and seven points clear of the relegation zone.
The last three performances have all resulted in picking up maximum points, and it demonstrates just how tight the bottom of the table is in France’s top flight. Bordeaux have changed from a team threatened with relegation to a top half outfit in the space of a month, although it will be impossible to predict how much of an impact Poyet’s appointment may have at the end of the season.
Elsewhere in France, at the Stade Louis II two sides did battle, with the main aim of moving a step closer to securing automatic Champions League qualification.
Both Monaco and Lyon played out a five-goal thriller, with Leonardo Jardim’s side coming back from two-nil down to steal all three points at the death. Danijel Subasic’s mistake lead to the opener, before Bertrand Traore added a second before the half hour mark.
But Monaco showed last season that they are capable of outscoring any opponent, and fought back to force a stalemate at the interval. And deep into the second half, Rony Lopes drilled an effort across Anthony Lopes and in to spark scenes of jubilation among the home side’s players and coaching staff. The image of Leonardo Jardim piling on top of his squad, issuing instructions, shows that the race for Europe is far from over – although Monaco’s incredible comeback does place them in a strong position to finish as runners-up come May time.
As for the visitors, questions will be asked once again about Bruno Genesio’s tactical prowess. The manager will not have enjoyed watching his team fall apart after their two-goal cushion, and then to give away all three points right at the death will be a particular blow. Although not a regular occurrence, Lyon’s fairly evident capability of conceding avoidable goals at the worst possible times is sure to have a drastic effect on whether they finish behind Paris Saint-Germain as runners up.