Jean-Luc Vasseur has left Olympique Lyonnais. The decision comes in the midst of a disappointing season for the French side. Sonia Bompastor has stepped into the vacant managerial role with immediate effect. Previously OL’s academy director, this promotion makes Bompastor Lyon’s first ever female coach.
The decision comes in the wake of Lyon’s departure from the Champions League. Historically dominant in this competition, their last elimination came in the 2014/15 season. Since then, Lyon have won five of their record seven titles in consecutive years. But this season, after commanding continental competition for so long, Lyon finally faltered.
Vasseur’s departure is a clear sign Lyon are hoping to revitalise their season.
It has been a rough year for Lyon. Ada Hegerberg and Griedge Mbock have missed the entire campaign due to long term injuries. Selection woes were recently complicated further with the injury of Damaris Egurrola. Fellow midfielder Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir has also been ruled out on maternity leave. In addition, Lyon’s quarter final defeat to PSG came after fifteen positive COVID tests in the first team.Embed from Getty Images
These difficult circumstances provide context for Lyon’s underwhelming season, but do not wholly explain it. After all, they were still able to lift their seventh Champions League title without Hegerberg or Mbock. Those dominant performances have been a thing of the past this year. There is only a point separating PSG and Lyon in the domestic league. Yet, when it comes to on the pitch performances, there is a much wider gulf in class between them. Change was desperately needed.
“The team’s game has been deteriorating for a few months. We wanted a return to OL’s DNA,” President Jean-Michel Aulas admitted. A reference to the winning mentality that the reigning champions have lacked.
“We Must Be Ambitious”
Bompastor is a legend of the French game, earning 156 caps with Les Bleues. During her six years playing for Lyon, she cultivated an illustrious trophy cabinet. Bompastor boasts six league titles, three Coupe de France titles, and two Champions League titles. In fact, she was a part of the team who secured Lyon’s first ever taste at victory on the European stage in 2011.Embed from Getty Images
When addressing the press, Bompastor drew on her successes as a player. “OL is my favourite club. It is an ambitious club. I am delighted to embark on this exciting new challenge.” And what a challenge it is. Lyon have never gone a season without winning a piece of silverware since 2006/7. “We must be ambitious,” Aulas stated when discussing the decision to change managers mid-season, the president believing his former player was the perfect choice to get Lyon back to winning ways.
Bompastor has signed a two year contract at Lyon, running through to June 30, 2023. Vincent Ponsot, OL’s director of football, also confirmed that Camille Abily will be Bompastor’s assistant.