Jean-Michel Aulas on former Lyon sporting director Juninho: “He wasn’t ready at all.”

In a wide-ranging interview with Le Monde, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has heavily criticised former OL player and sporting director Juninho. The Brazilian, immensely popular among Lyon’s faithful fans and considered one of OL’s best ever players, was appointed sporting director in 2019. The free-kick master resigned two years later amid tensions with Aulas and then head coach Rudi Garcia. Aulas seems to show regret at handing Juninho a shot at management:

“I made a mistake in human resource strategy by giving an extremely large delegation of sporting power to ‘Juni’. It didn’t work. Was it because he was incompetent or because the job didn’t suit his skills?” asks Aulas.

Lyon’s historic president then doubled down on criticising Juninho by affirming that the Brazilian deserved “not that much” credit for OL’s run in the 2019-2020 Champions’ League. Lyon eliminated Juventus and Manchester City in the knockout stages and fell against eventual winners Bayern Munich in the semi-finals. “I made a mistake by giving him the reins when he wasn’t ready at all.”

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On the contrary, Aulas defended the record of Juninho’s successor, the apparently “hyper-competent” head of recruitment, Bruno Cheyrou. The former Lille and Liverpool man is currently being heavily criticised by the fans for failing to address the flaws in the Rhône outfit’s squad.

Lyon are currently on course to miss European qualification for the third season in a row, a staggering sporting decline for a club that won seven Ligue 1 titles between 2002 and 2008. Lyon sit 11th-placed in the Ligue 1 standings and have sold prized asset Malo Gusto (19) to big spenders Chelsea.

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