Uncertainty overshadows PSG title win


Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti is pictured during his side's Ligue 1 match against Lyon, May 12, 2013. Photo - AFP/Philippe Desmazes

Overwhelming favourites at the campaign's outset, Paris Saint-Germain were eventually able to celebrate winning the Ligue 1 title with two games to spare, but uncertainty surrounding the future takes some of the shine off the capital club's triumph.

No other team in France could keep up with a PSG side built thanks to the massive financial power of their Qatari owners, even if Marseille and Lyon provided greater resistance than had been expected.

However, there were times when it looked as if Carlo Ancelotti's team might crumble under the pressure, particularly during a dreadful five-game run in November and December when they collected just four points.

Later, defeats at struggling Sochaux and Reims after the winter break kept their rivals' hopes alive and gave the impression that PSG's glamorous collection of stars were only really motivated by the Champions League.

"Maybe we are not made to play in games like these," claimed their Brazilian sporting director Leonardo after the 1-0 reverse in Reims in early March. "Perhaps we have a team designed more for Europe."

However, PSG's form since then saw them pull away once and for all and they ultimately were not removed from top spot from late January.

Despite their success, Ancelotti's style of play has come in for criticism as, for all the millions spent on the likes of Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, not enough exciting football was played. His side have often appeared lacking cohesion and the Italian's preferred variant on a 4-4-2 formation has not always convinced.

Of course, the statistics speak for themselves - defensively, PSG are in line to beat the record for the most clean sheets in a top-flight season, while further forward Ibrahimovic is the most prolific striker seen in France since Jean-Pierre Papin at his peak more than two decades ago.

Plenty of progress has been made in the two years since Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) bought a controlling stake in the club. After all, before last season, Paris had not finished as high as second in Ligue 1 since 2004. Now they have won the title for the first time since 1994, and just the third time in their history.

But they could still have done better. Winning the title was the least expected of PSG given their outlay on players in the last couple of seasons.

Reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League - where they lost on away goals to Barcelona - must go down as a good performance, but they also failed to progress beyond the last eight in either domestic cup, losing on penalties to eventual winners Saint-Etienne in the League Cup and in another shoot-out to Evian in the French Cup.

As a result, a first league and cup double in their history will have to wait.
And the run-in to their title triumph has been overshadowed by disciplinary problems and the continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of the coach.

From end-of-game brawls to captain Thiago Silva's sending-off for pushing a referee and sporting director Leonardo's alleged shoulder barge on the same official, PSG have done little to win admirers in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, it is unclear whether Ancelotti will still be at the club next season amid speculation about a move to Real Madrid, and the loss of the Italian, despite the criticism, would be a considerable blow.

Finding a replacement of a similar calibre would not be easy for QSI and, if Ancelotti does go, many of the squad's leading players might reconsider their futures. Will Thiago Silva or Ibrahimovic, the two marquee recruits of last summer, wish to stay without the Italian?
"We are all desperate to know what will happen," said Brazilian defender Alex, who played under Ancelotti at Chelsea, revealing the underlying tensions in the squad that have arisen from all the uncertainty.

The likeable former AC Milan boss is held in high esteem by his players, and his track record is up there with the very best. Events in the coming weeks are therefore likely to be pivotal for the new champions as they aim to begin a new era of domination at home and abroad.

Share 

 Rate this Article
Rates : 0, Average : 0

Share more.

Post a Comment

Did you like this section? Leave a comment!
Your Name : Your Email Address :
Your Comment :
Enter Image Text:
No Comments Posted

Label


s