Jupp Heynckes’ decision to take a break from the game puts the Les Parisiens on the spot this summer, writes Aditya Bajaj.
So, Jupp Heynckes finally ended the suspense over his future on Tuesday by announcing that he would be taking a temporary retirement from the game after a more than remarkable season with Bayern Munich that saw him lift the treble.
That Real Madrid were interested in acquiring his services was widely speculated over the past month, but it’s not the Spanish capital that Heynckes puts in trouble with his decision but the French, up north.
Long story short – with Heynckes out of the picture, true that Madrid are short of options but PSG on the other hand have a bigger problem because that leaves Carlo Ancelotti as the only option to fill the hot seat at the Bernabeu.
Now, whether he switches capitals from Paris to Madrid is something that will unfold as and when the business end of the summer gets going in full swing but his departure could dismantle a club that only last season showed enough promise to challenge the traditional big boys of Europe with their financial prowess and the squad they have in hand as a result of that.
First of all, there are really no credible options in the market to replace Ancelotti. Amongst the various candidates looked upon as future managers at the Parc de Princess over the past few months, Arsene Wenger still has a year left in his contract at the Emirates and is unlikely to relinquish his home of over 16 years while Rafael Benitez who was just released by Chelsea was proactively snapped up by ambitious Italian club Napoli. Roberto Mancini, who was sacked by Manchester City in May, is reported to have been deemed unsuitable for the job despite his experience in a similar environment in England. Perhaps, his inability to rally his troops in Europe and this season even domestically despite heavy investments on talent every season put off the Qataris who would not want to experience something similar in their backyard.
Jose Mourinho, the man Ancelotti is heavily tipped to replace at Madrid has been officially unveiled at the Stamford Bridge, and with that the chance of a direct exchange also goes up in the air.
Closer to home, there are options but Laurent Blanc – who won the Ligue 1 with Bordeaux in 2009 and managed the Les Blues until the end of Euros last year – is close to signing a two year contract with AS Roma in Italy while Nice coach Claude Puel and Christophe Galtier of Saint Etienne have done an admirable job this season but their inexperience with big stars and big teams might pose a problem with the owners.
Another suitable option could have been Manuel Pellegrini but the Chilean is just an official announcement away from Manchester City which slams that door in the face too. Former Milan, Roma, Juventus and Madrid manager Fabio Capello offered to consider the position if at all he was asked to, but even if PSG make an approach with Russia currently seated atop of Group F in the their World Cup qualifying group, it is highly improbable the Russian federation will let him off in a time as crucial as this – even if he plans to take up both roles at the same time ala Guus Hiddink in 2009.
There were reports that PSG were pondering over a temporary solution to Ancelotti’s departure with current sporting director Leonardo who has had managerial experiences at both the Milanese clubs, taking over on a one year interim basis until a suitable candidate is shortlisted next season depending on their availability. But with the Brazilian’s recent nine month ban which rules him out for much of the season that no longer seems an option too.
|Carlo Ancelotti (L) & Zlatan Ibrahimovic (R) | The PSG duo has had a healthy working relationship|
With Ibra, Lavezzi and Thiago Silva – three among the most important players of the squad – having openly expressed their love for Ancelotti and his terrific man-management skills, the important issue that PSG should be sweating is the future of their stars who could wish to depart the capital in case the former Milan and Chelsea manager takes over the reign at Madrid.
That would be a far greater problem to solve and perhaps the biggest impact Ancelotti’s flirtation with Madrid could have on a club looking to stamp their authority abroad having just won their first league title in 19 years.
With Monaco back in the top division and perhaps looking to give them stiff competition both on and off the field, defending the domestic title is not going to be a cake walk anymore as was the case last season. They are building into the second big force to emerge from France in less than two years and the signings of Falcao, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho even before the transfer market opens officially, have made a loud shout of intent from the small principality off the shore of France.
That PSG have been quiet until now in the transfer market is unusual - given their pro-activeness during the same period last year that saw them working on the transfers of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva - but understandable as it clearly reflects the dilemma that they face going into the summer with the curious managerial situation the first thing on their agenda for the summer.
Without doubt, they would do everything in their hands to convince Ancelotti - who has his eye firmly set at the Bernabeu – as a failure to achieve that would pose far greater problems than just finding a replacement and as insiders they would know that already.
Perhaps, there would be some regret to the way he was criticized last winter over a few hiccups on the domestic front but the fact remains that under the Italian the so called ambitious ‘project’ is heading in the right direction, and failure to hang on to him would destabilise it to a great degree regardless of how much they spend on personnel as a result to do some damage control.
The point is that at the end of the day even the most expensively assembled ship needs a smart captain to manoeuvre around the sea.
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