Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughA closer look at why Laurent Blanc isn’t suited to Paris Saint-Germain - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough A closer look at why Laurent Blanc isn’t suited to Paris Saint-Germain - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

A closer look at why Laurent Blanc isn’t suited to Paris Saint-Germain

This column has already mentioned that Laurent Blanc probably wasn’t suited for the French national team head coach position (a very popular choice at the time) and that he should seek work straight after Euro 2012. The problem being, he didn’t find any. Until now.

Hereafter I give three reasons why the relationship between him and his new employer probably won’t be a solid and long-lasting one.

1) – There was nobody else available, so we picked him

What a difference a year makes. Last summer we were nursing our wounds of finishing 2nd in the league to Montpellier and had for scant consolation the signings of Thiago Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi and others to fill in the newspaper sport pages but this year has been marked by the announcement before the season’s end that Carlo Ancelotti wanted to leave for Real Madrid. Our dear owners pondered for a while and honestly thought that giving the reigns to Leonardo, our sporting director, would do the trick (we did try and lure Carlo in another highly paid contract but alas, the Italian whose eyebrows go bonkers whenever his lips move has a career to think about). Well that option was more or less dead in the water when the French disciplinary committee decided to hand the Brazilian a 9-month touchline ban for pushing a referee right in front of the TV cameras (Leonardo appealed, not sure what good can come from that).


So Al-Khelaïfi decided to look outside the club for suitors. Villas-Boas of Spurs? No. Laudrup of Swansea? Another rejection. It’s not like both clubs boosted the same luxuries as PSG’s which are unlimited budget and Champions’ League football pretty much assured in the foreseeable future. So we were left with Laurent Blanc, a man who has been unemployed since Euro 2012 and who was very rarely in the papers for contract talks with potential future employers. Even Roma preferred Lille’s Rudi Garcia to him (only the future will tell us if they were right or not but Garcia is much more qualified and suited to the job than Blanc (see #2)).

 2) – Vastly inexperienced

I’m not sure if “Le Président” – a nickname people of Marseille gave him back in the late 90s, after doing some research I still have no idea how or why this particular word stuck but it did – knows what he got himself into. His last managerial position at Bordeaux involved much less stress, expectations weren’t as high and doing well in the Champions’ League was more a bonus than a necessity. In a month, Blanc will have to perform in front of the press every day and send out his team to play exciting football twice a week. His cautious approach as France manager (“Getting out of a group containing the Ukraine, Sweden and England would be a miracle”) doesn’t bode well for him. Will Blanc be given time by our wealthy owners if he gets off to a bad start at Montpellier (ironically his first club) on August 10th? Will he survive a tough Champions’ League group (it is possible, after all Manchester City are still in pot 3) and a possible 1st round exit?

I do confess that Carlo’s football wasn’t enjoyable to watch but his tactics were often good when it mattered (outplaying Barcelona in their own backyard for one) but not quite as good against unfancied sides like Sochaux or Reims.

I for one cannot see Blanc being within touching distance of the Champions’ League trophy in Lisbon next May. He would have to battle it out with Mourinho, Wenger, Guardiola or, heaven forbid, Ancelotti. Will the team go in against one of the teams managed by those managers brimming with confidence thanks to Blanc’s team talks? I can’t see it somehow…

The pulling power of the man also needs to be questioned. While players like Sirigu and Verratti did sign before Ancelotti did, they did so at a time of promise of a better tomorrow (which did occur). Right now, will world-class players honestly be motivated to work for a manager whose best achievement on the bench is to have won the French League? Money will do most of the talking of course but it is unlikely.

The silver lining, players-wise, though is that this appointment puts our French players – Christophe Jallet, Mamadou Sakho, Clément Chantôme, Blaise Matuidi (he would have been the first name on the team sheet regardless of the manager), Jérémy Ménez and Kévin Gameiro – in a good light as he knows that players will want some game time to make the squad of 23 that Deschamps takes to Brazil (provided we get there, our latest stint in South America – defeats to Uruguay and Brazil 0-1 and 0-3 respectively – wasn’t exactly a success). He could also give our youth academy a chance to shine (Carlo did start that project by giving a few game time to players like Rabiot (whom we loaned to Toulouse for the second half of the season) or Conte).

3) – He is not a PSG man

One factor that has probably been overlooked by the press: Blanc is not from Paris and never really stated his love for the city. Born in Alès, some 40-odd kilometres from Nîmes, Blanc started at Montpellier and stayed in that area with Nîmes and Marseille later on before trying some unsuccessful stints at Napoli, Barcelona and Inter Milan. Apart from 2 years at Manchester United, Blanc never played further north than Auxerre. There is something that doesn’t quite match with the capital city when you look at Blanc’s past as a player. His first title was against RC Paris which Montpellier beat in the French Cup final in 1990. He also would have played the 1997 Cup Winners’ Cup final for his then club Barcelona against PSG but for injury.

If anything, Blanc is fondly remembered by Marseille fans for leading the side to the 1998/99 title challenge against Bordeaux. Once he left, Marseille almost went down (finishing 15th the season of his departure). Thankfully, the mentality of our fans has changed since getting rid of the ultras. Saying this, the French are a very fickle people and you can be sure that if Paris doesn’t get off to a flying start, some people are going to shout their discontent about having a southerner at the helm.

I wish him well though.