Friday, 21 June 2013

PSG turn to Laurent after drawing a Blanc in their manager search

Paris Saint-Germain’s ongoing search for a manager is starting to remind more and more of the Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy.

Stay with me for a minute, this seemingly tenuous analogy makes perfect sense: both seem to have been going on for ever, have little interest to the public at large, and involve a cast of rich people you probably wouldn’t want to share a pint with. The main difference is that Kate will almost certainly have popped the Royal Sprog out by the end of July, whereas at this rate PSG will still be looking for their new entraineur.

What is fairly clear is that the man in charge at the Parc des Princes next season won’t be Carlo Ancelotti. The latest whisperings from the Real Madrid-bound Italian’s camp seems to suggest he’ll be freed from his PSG contract in the next day or two so that he can take over at the Bernabau.

His successor’s identity remains unknown, as so far PSG have been turned down more times than a letchy, half-cut, man with sweat patches dancing on his own at an office party. As far as I can remember the list of managers who have been linked with the job and said no/found employment elsewhere now reads as follows: Rafa Benitez, Guus Hiddink, Michael Laudrup, Andre Villas-Boas and Fabio Capello.

Capello should have been an easy mark, given his advancing years and propensity to take the biggest salary plonked in front of him. But after talks in Paris on Wednesday between Leonardo and the extremely smug-looking Pierfilippo Capello, Fabio’s son, lawyer, and agent, a move for the current Russia boss hit the buffers.

The sticking point for many of the candidates appears to be PSG’s reluctance to offer a long-term contract because the club still want to lure Arsene Wenger away from Arsenal when his contract expires next summer.

This obsession with getting Wenger strikes me as a bit bizarre. Not because I don’t rate him - he’s a great manager and seems like a decent enough bloke – but he isn’t the obvious fit for PSG. As someone who has consistently rallied against “financial doping” in football, is he going to want to go to a club whose success is built on flashing a lot of cash? Then there’s his age: at 63 he doesn’t represent a long term option to take the project (sorry) forward.

But the biggest flaw in the club’s strategy is that they don’t even seem to have anything in place guaranteeing that Wenger will leave Arsenal. The imminent signing of Gonzalo Higuain would suggest the Gunners mean business this season; will Wenger want to up sticks if they close the gap on the Manchester clubs or, heaven forbid, win a trophy? And even if he has agreed a deal, are we just writing off next season while we wait? It’s a strategy that makes little sense.

I’d be happy to have Wenger come in as Director of Football; his contacts and experience developing young players would be a tremendous asset to the club. So with that in mind perhaps this morning’s news that Laurent Blanc's agent is due in Paris for talks could be a good thing.

Judging by my Twitter feed, Blanc would not be a popular appointment with a lot of fans, and given how terrible France were at Euro 2012 I have some reservations about his ability to handle big-name players when the pressure is on. But he has qualities too, and I could see Blanc and Wenger working together to take the club forward, as well as putting in place a crowd-pleasing core of French players to back up our cast of superstars.

If Blanc is appointed, it will be interesting to see what sort of contract the former Bordeaux boss receives. That should give us a better idea of PSG’s long-term plan, if indeed they have one.

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