After their defeat to Wolfsburg in the Champions League final on Thursday night, Lyon coach Patrice Lair only had one thing on his mind – to refocus his players’ minds.
Lyon are back in league action today (Sunday) and they still have a domestic cup to compete for. So even if being crowned champions of Europe for a third time on the bounce had proved a step too far, they could at least look to end the season as the best side in France. Lair, who was a full-back in his playing days, said at Stamford Bridge that he had been hailed a “god” after joining Lyon in 2010. Which sounds fair enough given that the 51-year-old Frenchman helped the club retain their domestic title shortly after his arrival and went on to win the Champions League twice in a row. But he then wondered aloud whether, after Thursday’s defeat, he might have become an “idiot”. Claiming the French title by finishing the season unbeaten and then going on to win the French Cup could surely put ideas like that out of his head. But we’ll wait and see how it all pans out. For now, here’s what Lair had to say after that bitter Champions League defeat at Stamford Bridge.
Press: What was the atmosphere like in the dressing room after the game?
PL: We were very disappointed. As you know, when you lose a game you are very disappointed even though we don’t lose very often. But we didn’t quite do what we needed to, we waited and waited and didn’t quite pose enough of a threat. We needed to be a bit more effective and we weren’t enough today. Eventually they managed to get the goal and they just had that bit of extra.
Press: Do you hold anything against your players?
PL: No I can’t reproach them. If anything, we just lacked a bit in the final third in terms of getting our foot on the ball and finishing. It’s a shame. We needed to be a bit more effective, some of our players weren’t at their usual level but they have given me such great performances over such a long period, I can’t really have a go at them.
Press: You only seemed to get going in the last 15 minutes of the first half and then you upped the tempo?
PL: Yes we upped the tempo but if you don’t finish there’s no point in upping the tempo.
Press: Why did it come so late?
PL: Well I think at that late stage we started to come into the game and did play well and might have scored from a corner. At half time I wasn’t overly concerned. As you know when you don’t score you can be punished and we had the hand ball from Laura Georges and were punished.
Press: Camille Abily looked a bit leggy, what was wrong?
PL: I don’t think that was the case. I just thought she was losing the ball a bit too much so I brought on Lara Dickenmann to try and get the ball closer to Lotta Schelin up front but perhaps it came a bit too late. Then I also brought on Eugenie Le Sommer and I thought she could come in from out wide and get some shots off. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Lara picked up a knock and I was worried she was injured so I decided to throw on Amel Majri. We tried everything, we played with an attacking midfielder, defensive midfielder, two players out wide and two strikers trying to equalise. As I said, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, I would’ve liked us to have got a bit more into the penalty area and committed bodies and showed a bit more desire to do that and be a bit more efficient. That’s one of our best traits and we didn’t really show it.
Press: Are you angry about the hand ball decisions?
PL: Listen, if I got angry at every referee decision – that’s part of life. Sometimes I am a perhaps compulsive character but the referee didn’t blow in favour of us and gave a penalty for Wolfsburg, but we still didn’t play as well as we should’ve done. So I don’t really want to look for excuses. That’s far too easy. What we will do [on Friday and Saturday] is prepare for our final game in the league and try and bounce back as soon as possible. I don’t want to get into referee decisions. I don’t want to get angry about this. I want to focus. I was a god, if you will, for two and a half years, perhaps now after this defeat I’m just an idiot!
Press: You came up against a very organised side, is it perhaps the reason that in the French league there aren’t enough teams to challenge you sufficiently?
PL: Yes, absolutely, there is a lack here and there are a lot of good German sides and they have a number of sides that are very good in their league so their league is a lot more even. We are perhaps a bit behind in that respect but I hope to see in the future it might be that the club presidents investing a bit more money into women’s football because that’s what needs to be done.