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Garcia searching for smiles as fans revolt against Lyon appointment


Paris (AFP) – Rudi Garcia begins his reign as Lyon manager on Saturday with what should be a simple task against lowly Dijon, as he attempts to win over underwhelmed fans and turn around a season that is already threatening to go off the rails.

Garcia, 55, took charge of the off-form outfit on Monday tasked with ending a miserable run that has left them languishing in 14th place in Ligue 1 after nine games, already seven points away from the Champions League places for which they are expected to challenge.

Leaders Paris Saint-Germain are way off in the distance, 12 points ahead of a Lyon side that have failed to win in the league since August.

Garcia’s arrival at one of France’s biggest clubs comes after he quit Marseille in May following his failure to guide them to European football last season. A miserable campaign also saw his former side suffer a humiliating French Cup exit to amateurs Andrezieux and collect just one point in the Europa League group stage before crashing out.

Within hours of his appointment a petition entitled “No to Rudi Garcia” collected nearly 7,000 signatures from bemused supporters.

“My priority will be to win and all my energy is turned towards that. Everyone wants Olympique Lyonnais to start winning again. Wins bring smiles,” Garcia told a sceptical public on Tuesday.

He will have to try to win without talisman and former captain Nabil Fekir, midfielder Tanguy Ndombele and Ferland Mendy who all left in the summer, as they flounder at home in contrast to a promising start in the Champions League.

They scored nine goals as they thrashed Monaco and Angers in their opening two Ligue 1 matches but have failed to win since, losing four of their following seven fixtures including the derby defeat by Saint-Etienne.

Dijon may not be the easy pickings Garcia is hoping for after winning their last two matches and lifting themselves off the bottom of the table.

– Icardi finds feet in France –

PSG meanwhile are still dealing with an injury crisis up front that could allow new signing Mauro Icardi a chance to further establish himself in the champions’ attack as they look to defend their two-point lead at the top at Nice on Friday.

Neymar returned from international duty with a hamstring problem that will rule him out for four weeks as the Brazilian’s injury woes continue, while coach Thomas Tuchel said on Thursday that he was “unsure” about whether to start Kylian Mbappe on the French Riviera.

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