The former Bordeaux boss has finally been confirmed as Carlo Ancelotti's replacement, and the indecision of the Ligue 1 champions threatens to undo much of their progress
By Robin Bairner
Last Tuesday it was Andre Villas-Boas. The next day it was Fabio Capello and by Thursday it was Frank Rijkaard. On Friday, however, Paris Saint-Germain had moved on to Laurent Blanc who, four days later, was finally confirmed as the successor to new Real Madrid trainer Carlo Ancelotti.
The enigma of just who would be PSG’s new boss had previously seemed set to run until the squad returned to pre-season on July 1 and the manner of the mad scramble to appoint a new face threatens to undermine their domination of French football, particularly given Monaco’s transfer surge.
PSG have been wholly incapacitated by their inability to find their next coach and have yet to make any positive movement in the summer market.
It is a situation that has been wrought in Parc des Princes, where long-term strategy has contrived to blind the board as to the short-term well-being of the squad.
But perhaps the principle issue has been QSI’s obsession over Arsene Wenger, a man shackled to Arsenal by a one-year deal that he has never hinted that he wanted to break.
PSG have been transfixed by the former Monaco boss, whose contract expires in little over 12 months. So, set upon on attaining Wenger, they forgot to look at the present.
The French club very publicly let it be known that the veteran Gunners coach was their No.1 aim, but their lust to sign him next season prevented clarity in the badly-delayed acquiring of Blanc.
Wenger, a man of great morals, has previously grumbled about ‘financially doped’ clubs, of which PSG certainly fall into that bracket now. There can be little guarantee he would be tempted by a return to France, particularly as Arsenal finally appear willing to become actors in the transfer market.
Regardless of whether or not the ex-Nancy and Monaco boss is attainable, he continues to loom large over their summer, even from London.
Blanc, a previous Ligue 1 winner as coach with Girondins de Bordeaux, will certainly feel the presence of Wenger as he takes charge of his new side. He may have been handed a potential two-year deal, but he will appreciate that his bosses may well have half an eye on developments at the Emirates Stadium.
Such speculation did not fall upon deaf ears elsewhere in the coaching world as a slew of leading candidates for the job rebuffed last season’s Champions League quarter-finalists. Prior to Villas-Boas, Capello and Rijkaard, there were rumours associating them with Jose Mourinho, Massimiliano Allegri, Guus Hiddink, Roberto Mancini and more.
One by one, PSG were shunned. Mourinho went back to Chelsea, Allegri signed a new dead with AC Milan, Hiddink decided to stay put in Kazan and Mancini was not seen as a convincing option by the board of the Parisians.
Blanc has taken the plunge, yet it is hardly a ringing endorsement of 'Le President' that he seems to have been halfway down PSG's inaptly named shortlist.
No matter how successful Blanc is, PSG’s summer shambles will not be easily overshadowed or forgotten. That the club have allowed such a situation to fester for almost a month after the close of the domestic season, by which time it was apparent that Ancelotti would be departing, should be considered unacceptable for a team of the stature that les Parisiens are trying to attain.
A failure to look at the big picture caught them on their heels and has offered their greatest title rivals genuine hope as preseason approaches. Blanc has been left with ground to make up.
Most crucially, though, it has offered high-profile embarrassment to a team whose leadership have failed to act in a holistic manner and whose wanton courting of a short-term solution has made them look frankly desperate.
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