Lyon (AFP) – Laurent Blanc insisted he still has the “desire” to succeed as a coach at the highest level as he was unveiled by Lyon on Monday, returning to management in France more than six years after leaving Paris Saint-Germain.
Blanc, 56, was appointed by Lyon on Sunday on a deal to the end of next season following the sacking of Dutchman Peter Bosz.
Lyon, who won seven consecutive French titles between 2002 and 2008, have drifted into mediocrity under Bosz and finished eighth in Ligue 1 last season, failing to qualify for Europe for the second time in three campaigns.
Blanc now takes over a side who sit ninth in the table after just 10 matches, 12 points behind leaders PSG having taken just a single point from their last five outings.
They are also a club in limbo off the field, with a planned takeover by American businessman John Textor still to be completed.
“I have that desire, and this sport, in my heart and soul, so I was open to all offers,” said Blanc, who left PSG in 2016 having led them to three straight Ligue 1 titles.
Since his departure from the capital, his only coaching job has been in Qatar, where he spent just over a year in charge of Al Rayyan before leaving in February.
“As time goes by you get forgotten about but I don’t think OL forgot about me so I was happy to respond positively to their approach,” added Blanc, who before working at PSG spent two years in charge of France, leading them to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.
He also won the league as coach of Bordeaux in 2009, ending Lyon’s period of dominance.
“I needed a breather in the first few years, which I have admitted,” he said of his departure from PSG.
“That was when I had the most chances to return to football but I didn’t take them out of choice.
“I am just happy to be back in the dugout and doing my job.”
Blanc, who won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 as a player for France and turned out for the likes of Barcelona, Marseille, Inter Milan and Manchester United, knows he needs to turn around Lyon’s fortunes quickly.
This Sunday’s game at Rennes will be the first of five before the interruption for the World Cup, with Blanc hoping senior stars like Alexandre Lacazette and Corentin Tolisso can play key roles on the pitch.
“Our objective is to take as many points as possible in the last five matches before the break, and then we will have time to work on things.
“My vision of football has not changed one jot. It won’t be difficult to get that across to the players but we will need time. And right now we need points.”