Fabio Grosso (C) leaves the pitch after defeat to Metz earlier this month (JEFF PACHOUD)
Lyon travel to a resurgent Lens on Saturday, where they will be seeking to turn the page on a catastrophic season that has claimed another coaching victim – Fabio Grosso.
The 46-year-old Italian lasted just over two months in the hot seat after he replaced Laurent Blanc on September 16, but his record of one win in seven matches forced the Lyon hierarchy’s hand on Thursday.
In a statement, the club said the decision to move on from Grosso was driven by the poor run of results and came following an “in-depth analysis of the first-team situation”.
Heading into the weekend, Lyon remain rock bottom and five points from safety, having accumulated just one win and a total of seven points from their opening 12 matches.
That one victory came on matchday 12 away to Rennes thanks to a Jake O’Brien goal, but that stuttering win against a side that played over 85 minutes with just 10 men did not ease the concerns of Lyon’s upper echelons.
After much speculation about his future, Grosso’s final game in charge was last Sunday’s 2-0 home defeat by Lille.
It was an unhappy time in the Lyon dugout for the 2006 World Cup winner, who equalled Raymond Domenech’s 1989-90 club record for the most top-flight defeats after seven games and also suffered head injuries in last October’s stoning of the team bus by Marseille fans as it entered the Stade Velodrome.
Academy boss Pierre Sage will take his place on the bench away to sixth-placed Lens, who are undefeated in their last eight league matches, though did suffer a 6-0 mauling at Arsenal in the Champions League on Wednesday.
“I take things on a day-to-day basis. We’ll do everything we can to keep things moving in the right direction. Everything is being done in a hurry, of course,” said Sage during Thursday’s pre-match press conference.
Just two days after stepping into the role, he will become Lyon’s fourth coach of the season, following on from Blanc, interim Jean-Francois Vulliez and Grosso.
On Sunday, table-toppers Paris Saint-Germain open the day’s fixtures with a trip to Le Havre, before fellow early title-pretenders Monaco welcome lowly Montpellier to the principality.
Second-placed Nice visit Nantes, who sacked their coach Pierre Aristouy on Wednesday. The hosts have slipped to 11th in the table and are without a win in their last four outings.
Former player Jocelyn Gourvennec has taken over the west coast club and will immediately face the unenviable task of trying to break down Ligue 1’s stingiest defence.
The Saturday kick-off will give Nice the opportunity to climb to the table’s summit with a two-point buffer, at least provisionally.
One to watch: Amine Gouiri
The 23-year-old Algerian forward became the second player born in the 21st century to reach 40 Ligue 1 goals when he broke the deadlock for Rennes in their 3-1 win against Brest last Sunday.
Gouiri has found goals hard to come by this term, scoring just three in 13 appearances, but his goal-scoring qualities are no secret since he made his blistering breakthrough at Nice in 2020.
A trip to floundering Marseille is on the cards for Rennes this weekend, and with coach Gennaro Gattuso reportedly already under pressure, Gouiri can use the milestone reached last week to drive himself back to the form that allowed him to score 37 in the last three seasons.
4 – The number of defeats Grosso endured as Lyon coach in seven league matches before being axed.
5 – The record number of coaches a team has had in one Ligue 1 season since 2000 (Marseille 2001-02), according to Opta statisticians.
Fixtures (times GMT)
Reims v Strasbourg (2000)
Lens v Lyon (1600), Nantes v Nice (2000)
Le Havre v Paris Saint-Germain (1200), Brest v Clermont, Monaco v Montpellier, Toulouse v Lorient (all 1400), Lille v Metz (1605), Marseille v Rennes (1945)