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Aulas dismisses Puel rumours

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has called rumours he considered sacking coach Claude Puel after the weekend defeat to Toulouse "preposterous".

Lyon suffered a 2-0 reverse on Sunday to leave them seven points adrift of leaders Lille, meaning third place is the best they can realistically hope for.

The defeat ended a run of results that had seen them keep an interest in the title race, but now their more immediate challenge is staying in front of Paris St Germain - behind only on goal difference - in the battle for third place and the final Champions League berth.

However, while Aulas admitted the defeat was a "big mistake" he rejected the suggestion that Puel's future came into question.

"I have not considered it," he told L'Equipe. "There is no reason to. We are third with five games to go. I was called on Monday evening to tell me about this rumour. It is preposterous."

Aulas claimed that to sack the coach now would be equivalent to the most extreme responses to the situation, and the idea would only be suggested by people who did not know what they were talking about.

"Certain people have never taken proper responsibility at a club and never will," he said. "We could do whatever we like when the times get bad: give the players steroids, buy the referee ... To me those things would be on the same level. It goes against the nature of responsibility."

Aulas said Puel retains his confidence even though he accepts that not everything the coach tries is successful.

"It does not always go well, because the results are not always there," he said, "but nobody can say that another coach would have done better this season."

Aulas added that he would be satisfied with fourth place, as it would bring Europa League football, but that third had to remain the target. Puel's future, he said, would be assessed at the end of the season.

"Claude has a four-year contract. Obviously, at the end of the season, even though he has that contract, we will take a look at the results but here, right now, we are not thinking about next season, only about qualifying for the Champions League."


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