Thursday 22 August 2019, 07:00

Pedros and the eternal quest for silverware

  • Reynald Pedros won last year’s The Best FIFA Women’s Coach award

  • Frenchman in the running to win the accolade again

  • After steering Lyon to a double in 2018, he went one better in 2019

The hardest thing is not to get to the top but to stay there. It is an art that Olympique Lyonnais have perfected in dominating the women’s game in recent years.

Since lifting their first French league title in 2007, they have never relinquished it, winning it 13 times in a row and counting. And when it comes to the UEFA Women’s Champions League, l’OL are also an irresistible force, having claimed the trophy six times in nine attempts since 2011, the last four of those triumphs coming consecutively.

Reynald Pedros has masterminded the side’s last two trophy-laden seasons. After arriving at the club for his first job in women’s football in 2017, he maintained Lyon’s status as the queens of European football in 2018, an achievement that led to him winning The Best FIFA Women’s Coach award. Though it was hard to see how he could do any better, the French coach went and did just that last season, having predicted as much to when collecting his 2018 award in London.

Two becomes three

What he said: “The objective we set was to win the three titles: the league, Coupe de France, and the Champions League. We only got two of them, so there’s still one for us to go and win.”

What happened: Victorious in the Champions League and the French league in 2018, Lyon missed out on the treble when they were beaten 1-0 by Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de France final. While the season was an undoubted success, with Lyon’s domestic and continental domination helping Pedros to pick up The Best award, that cup final defeat marred what would have been a perfect season. The French giants set the record straight in 2019, retaining their league and European titles and hoisting the Coupe de France aloft for an eighth time.

Lyon celebrate winning the UEFA Women's Champions League

First is all that matters

What he said: “I’ve got some great competitors. They don’t want to come second and neither do I. It’s tough to stay at the top, but when you manage to combine talent with a team ethic, you get even stronger.”

What happened: Showing that desire not to be second, Pedros’ charges took to the top of the league on the opening day of the season, thanks to an 8-0 defeat of Lille. They stayed there for the rest of the 22-game season, recording 20 wins and two draws. Lyon were equally impressive in the Coupe de France, scoring five victories in as many matches. On the European scene they chalked up eight wins in their nine games, while drawing 1-1 at Chelsea in the semi-final second leg. Lyon underlined their class with a 4-1 defeat of an enterprising Barcelona side in the final.

Ada Hegerberg of Lyon celebrate with teammates and Reynald Pedros, head coach

Defeat not an option

What he said: “It’s awful. We lost our first pre-season match against Manchester City (3-2 in August 2017). It really hurt, and I said to myself: ‘This can’t happen again’.”

What happened: l’OL’s 2018/19 record

  • French league: 22 matches, 20 wins, two draws, no defeats, 89 goals for, six against

  • Coupe de France: five matches, five wins, 16 goals for, one against

  • UEFA Women’s Champions League: nine matches, eight wins, one draw, 33 goals for, six against

Pedros said it could not happen again and it did not: Lyon went unbeaten through the entire season.

Reynald Pedros, Manager of Olympique Lyonnais poses for a portrait 

The winning habit

What he said: “It’s a very short career and you have to take opportunities when they come and as soon as they come because you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. When you have a chance to win a trophy or claim a win you have to take it, enjoy it, and then move on and try to win something else. I haven’t asked myself if it’s too early or if it’s happened too quickly.”

What happened: Having taken over from Gerard Precheur – the winner of trebles in his last two seasons – the former Nantes and France winger showed he was capable of maintaining Lyon’s insatiable winning habit. The winner of a double in his first season and a treble in his second and the reigning women’s coach of the year, Pedros is longer in the Lyon dugout, with club and coach having agreed to go their separate ways in the close season. Can he now claim another accolade at The Best FIFA Football Awards?