Bruno Genesio has given Lyon their pride back but could lose his job
Of the managers left in the Champions League, Bruno Genesio is surely the only one with an uncertain future.
Genesio is out of contract at Lyon at the end of the season and has no idea if he will be offered new terms. On Tuesday night, after Lyon drew 0-0 with Barcelona in their round-of-16 first leg, Jean-Michel Aulas, the club's chairman, insisted that a decision would be made before the end of March.
Lyon sit third in Ligue 1, they are still very much capable of knocking out Barca and reaching the quarterfinals of the UCL and they have a talented young squad partly assembled and nurtured by this coach -- and yet they are still not sure about him. If Aulas were convinced that Genesio is the man to take his club forward, he would have offered him a new deal already. The fact that he hasn't shows the extent of the problem.
On one hand, Genesio ticks a lot of the boxes. He is Lyon born and bred, and Lyon are his club. He played most of his professional career with them. He has been part of the coaching staff (including in the academy) for years and represents the values of the club. He also comes across well and is very likeable. He has the support of much of the French media, and has had great results against top teams; beating Paris Saint-Germain twice at home in the last two seasons, Manchester City at the Etihad and drawing with them at home after leading twice. He did the double against arch rivals Saint-Etienne two seasons in a row.
Since he took over as manager in December 2015, Genesio has won 92 of his 168 matches in charge, a win ratio of 55 percent, with 34 draws. At times, the football produced by his team has been fantastic.
On the other hand, Genesio has been clueless in certain matches, usually against smaller teams. His inability to motivate and focus his players in those games has been quite incredible. The team has been frankly dull at times, like against Reims at home (1-1) and away (0-1) earlier in the season. And a lot of fans, especially the club's ultras, want him out at the end of the season. Despite some ups, they have had enough of the downs. They deployed a banner against him at the end of last season and regularly ask for his sacking. His detractors argue that with the quality of the squad at his disposal, Genesio should not be 19 points behind PSG in Ligue 1, should not have lost five times already domestically and should play at a high level regardless of the opposition.
At 52, Genesio is a decisive figure. He is either really loved or really disliked. His own inconsistency has cast a doubt over his ability to take this team to the next level. Lyon have a very good squad, full of great potential, while the next generation of Lyon players currently playing with the reserves team (Rayan Cherki and Maxence Caqueret, just to name the two most talented) is promising too. They need the right manager in charge.
Is it Genesio? Aulas will have to decide. The manager wants to stay, and he will wait for March 31 with angst.
Between now and then, his team will play big games against Monaco and Barcelona, plus Caen in the French Cup quarterfinals. But he must also get results against Toulouse, Strasbourg and Montpellier before the next international break. Will it be enough to see exactly what Genesio is capable of? Aulas and his board have probably seen enough already, but they are clearly struggling to come to a decision on his future.
Genesio is said to be quietly confident. He is convinced he deserves to stay in the job, and his ego has been a big part of this contractual saga. The Lyon manager has compared himself with Pep Guardiola, a comparison that's really difficult to carry. "Pep Genesio," as he is amusingly nicknamed in France by the people who don't like him, will now find out very soon what his future holds.