In an exclusive interview for OLTV and OLWEB, the Lyon coach has promised a return to the start of the season.
Bruno, what do you think about the current rankings in Ligue 1? OL is seventh, ten points behind OGC Nice and seven behind AS Monaco and PSG…
We've fallen short of the targets we set at the start of the season. It's not good enough. We have three points fewer than what we had at this stage last season and we also find ourselves trailing three teams (Nice, Monaco and PSG) who are steaming ahead. We're effectively six points behind schedule. I'm thinking about the matches against Dijon and Lorient, or obviously the one at the Parc OL against Guingamp. The point is that are where we deserve to be and that we haven't done everything possible to succeed. Also, there are a few attenuating circumstances, notably the many injuries that have seen us have to wait almost two months to put our best possible line-up together. It's during this period that we dropped a lot of points.
It will be nice to reach the president's objective. If we can go on and do even better, we won't say no.
After the two consecutive victories over Toulouse and Bastia, do you think that the target of 31 points set by Jean-Michel Aulas has already been revised upwards?
They say that to finish in the top three you have to take an average of two points per match. From now until the break at the end of December, there are seven matches to play, so if we take an average of two points from those, we'll be ahead of the target. But these are only mathematical calculations. The reality of football is another thing. It will be nice to reach the president's objective. If we can go on and do better after that, we won't say no.
Can you explain why you've used so many different playing systems?
Because of circumstances. It's necessary to adapt but I know full well that to keep changing our playing system or our player positions isn't the best way to create stability and be consistent. I obviously don't love doing changing, I prefer a well-founded playing system that can be varied during a match.
In central defence, you've used no fewer than eight combinations. But for three matches, Mouctar Diakhaby and Emanuel Mammana have been the regulars. Is this how it's going to stay?
It's still too early to say, but it's clear that we need to have a sturdy backbone... from the keeper right up to the centre-forward. For different reasons, namely injury worries and form, we haven't managed to field this defensive pairing for most of the season. The stability of our central defence has been our strength in the second part of the season. We need to quickly regain our clout in this department.
These last few weeks you've been citing your team's lack of confidence, so what will you be working on this week?
When things aren't going right, there are two things to do: talk and work. You need to communicate, to talk to keep the team united. When we begin to lose, we usually reject blaming one player or another. During this slump, we have had to criticise ourselves, both as individuals and as a team. We haven't fully recovered yet, and this will take some time, but we've shown that the club is solid.
What do you think about your chances of playing in the Champions League round of 16?
It's very hard to give a percentage. The only thing that is certain is that our destiny is out of our hands. The team has nonetheless shown signs of playing much better, particularly against Juventus. We needed to score only once more take the three points. In the last two matches, we will play to win despite our chances of qualification being low. First up, we will prepare well for the match against Zagreb and do everything we can to win, hoping at the same time that Juventus beat Sevilla.
You've been in charge of the first team for a year now. Did you expect the job to be so difficult?
Yes, I expected it, but you don't know quite how something's going to be until you actually do it. I was lucky enough to have five or six fairly happy months last season. In the first part of this season, I've gone through some tougher moments. But I've struck upon a new approach to my job. I've learned to be critical and to look for solutions. It's a different approach to my role and it also involves working on myself. To get through, you need to show that you're stubborn in your ideas and not easily swayed by others. You need extra strength of character. It's also in these moments that you can judge the quality of the people around you. And as far as criticism goes, I'm used to it because I was a player myself. There are also many people who have encouraged me, not people on social networks but people I meet. I also have a lot of support from the coaching staff, and it's import to be acknowledged by those around you.
Have you felt that your job has been under threat during this slump?
No, not at all. My staff are very close to me. The president lends his support daily, both ostensibly and privately, and I feel also that the players are behind me. Anyway, I don't think too much about it. If we did, we wouldn't do anything and would no longer be ourselves. So it's in these moments that we need the courage of our convictions. After all, we're judged on our results, but the margin between a win and a loss is sometimes very narrow...
Lastly, what message would you like to pass on to the fans?
First of all, I would like to thank them. The team is well aware that they haven't played terribly well so far this season. But our fans have always supported us both at home and away. I ask them to stay behind us because we need them in the hard times as well as the good. It's important for the team to feel that everybody's with them.
Watch the whole interview on OLTV Online.