Under-fire Lyon coach Puel dismisses quit reports
Lyon coach Claude Puel has dismissed reports he is set to throw in the towel after a disappointing first season in charge of the Ligue 1 giants.
The champions look set to relinquish a Ligue 1 crown they have held for the past seven years after slipping seven points off joint leaders Marseille and Bordeaux with just four rounds of fixtures remaining.
Puel's future has been a matter for much speculation over the past couple of weeks, even more so since his team's tame surrender in last Saturday's 2-0 defeat at lowly Valenciennes.
However, the former Lille coach is adamant he will remain at the Stade Gerland, claiming adversity drives him on.
"I'm not going to waste time talking about nonsense, about outrageous remarks," he said. "I've known more difficult situations. It's part of the career of a player, of a coach. I'm ready.
"It doesn't bother me, even if I don't want this kind of problem. The coach is centre stage, he is the target. It's normal. The coach is there to take the hits.
"I have to pay attention to the group who need harmony in order to move forwards. For me, adversity pushes me forwards."
More worryingly for Lyon they face the very real prospect of not qualifying for the Champions League as Paris St Germain are currently just a point behind them in the race for third spot and a place among Europe's elite.
All this is a massive shock to the club and its fans who are used to seeing their team being top dog in France, and Puel met with groups of supporters yesterday in a bid to calm their fears.
"I met the fans on Tuesday with the president - a meeting that has been planned for a little while," he said.
"We listened to the supporters who have legitimate demands, especially after a completely awful match like Saturday's.
"This dissatisfaction is normal. They want to see a team who defends tooth and nail the chances of playing in next season's Champions League."
Puel admits that his team are struggling mentally and have not lived up to expectations, especially since their 5-2 capitulation to Barcelona in the Champions League last 16.
"We haven't been at our best on a mental level for quite a while," he added. "It's OL, there's a huge expectation, a special environment.
"We have to respond to these expectations. There have been some difficulties since the start of the season. But there's not been any dishonesty from the players.
"A player gives what he can. A player is a human being. This group is weakened. Psychologically, there has been a crack after Barcelona."