Quiet man Le Guen ponders on his future

PARIS: One of the hottest properties in international football is likely to be on the market at the end of the season, but how many fans around the world would be able to pick him out in an identity parade? 

Paul Le Guen may not fill half as many column inches in the newspapers as Jose Mourinho or Sir Alex Ferguson but his achievements are no less substantial for that. 

Since succeeding Jacques Santini as coach of Lyon in July 2002 Le Guen has proved himself a manager out of the top drawer and on Sunday oversaw the club's fourth successive French League title. 

Santini left the north Rhone club to become coach of France on the crest of a wave after delivering them a first French title since their launch half a century earlier. 

Club president Jean-Michel Aulas called on Le Guen, in charge of Rennes at the time, to step in as Santini's successor. 

And Aulas can never have had cause to question that decision for since Le Guen's arrival Lyon have won a further three championships. 

But now the time is approaching for a possible change of scenery – Le Guen's contract expires this summer, and the French press are having a field day trying to work out his next port of call. 

The man with the boyish good looks who was born in the Brittany port of Finistere 41 years ago would have dearly loved to move on with a Champions League trophy under his belt. 

But PSV Eindhoven put paid to that dream in April, denying Lyon the chance of a first ever appearance in the last four of the competition in a penalty shoot-out. 

The former France team captain's frustration was plain for all to see. 

“That was certainly the biggest disappointment of my coaching career,” he said. “To lose like that on a penalty shoot-out was terrible.” 

Le Guen's legacy is to have transformed Lyon into a powerful, quick, modern team equipped with all the armoury required to take on and rub shoulders with Europe's elite. 

One of the players who has been inspired by Le Guen's tenure is France goalkeeper Gregory Coupet who reckons the coach's departure could trigger a stampede for the exit. 

“Whatever he chooses could be decisive for some in the team. We've all built something beautiful here in an extraordinary atmosphere and it would be a shame to see that come to an end.” 

The man himself is keeping, characteristically, quiet. 

“I haven't made up my mind yet,” he said recently. 

Le Guen had a seven-year spell with Paris Saint Germain as a player in the 1990s and the crisis-club is reportedly high in the queue to try and secure his services.  

But if he were to leave Lyon a position beyond his country's borders seems more likely – with a move across the channel to join Wenger, Perrin and Co in the English Premiership an obvious possibility.– AFP 

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