Tough Decisions and Tough Times Ahead for Lille


Lille OSC used the international break to take stock of their abysmal start to the season and agree with coach Hervé Renard that their journey had come to an end. His departure was labelled as amicable, but it seems that it was a case of the former Ivory Coast boss having his decision made for him – without the club having to pay compensation.

Renard knew the situation wasn’t working, telling players after the 1-1 draw with Bastia that his short tenure at the club was over.

After club spells at both Cambridge United in England and FC Sochaux in Ligue 1, Renard’s club resume wasn’t worth writing home about, but two Africa Cup of Nations triumphs with Zambia and the Ivory Coast made him one of the most sought after coaches in Europe.

Lille parted company with René Girard after two seasons and welcomed Renard, and a new era into the club.

It was a summer of change at the Stade Pierre Mauroy. Many big name players left northern France. Divock Origi returned to Liverpool after his loan spell and Simon Kjaer made a move to Fenerbahce in Turkey – following his dream of Champions League football.

Nolan Roux, Idrissa Gueye, Adama Traore and Rony Lopes also left the club, giving Renard only a few months to rebuild the club.

Renato Civelli and Mounir Obbadi returned to France, adding experience to the squad, but the arrivals of Sehrou Guirassy, Junior Tallo, Baptiste Guillaume and Ibrahim Amadou, gave the impression that this was a young Lille team, one that would need time to gel and find their best football.

After 13 games, Lille are 16th in Ligue 1 – a position that President Michel Seydoux called “perilous” – and have only managed to score seven goals this season. Four of those coming from star player, Sofiane Boufal.

Sterile, boring, unimaginative football has been Renard’s downfall and now he will have to spend his downtime playing online casino games like at SlotsHeaven while waiting for another job offer to come in.

Seydoux’s preferred option to take over might actually present Renard with another chance at employment. Current Algeria boss Christian Gourcuff is the club’s favourite to takeover – opening the door for Renard to return to African national team football.

Others mentioned have been Pascal Dupraz, Frederic Antonetti, Francis Gillot and Lucien Favre.

Lille go into this weekend’s game against bottom side Troyes with assistant Patrick Collot in charge, youth team coach and former LOSC player, Stephane Dumont, has stepped up to help with first-team duties until the situation is resolved. To make things worse, Boufal is suspended for three games after his red card against Bastia.

It is going to take an almighty turnaround to steer this lost ship back on course. Under Renard the players looked confused by his ideas, the football was slow and failed to carry any threat. Not everything comes down to the coach though, and the new signings, plus the experienced leaders of the team need to show they are better than the position they currently find themselves in.

Lille’s aim before the start of the season was to finish in the top eight. That is a distant dream at the moment. Without a coach, Saturday’s game is a chance for the players to stand up and be counted. Another defeat, to a Troyes side still without their first victory, could be the blow that sends the club into an irreversible spiral.

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