Carlo Ancelotti will be unveiled as the new Coach of Paris Saint-Germain later on today and brings with him a pedigree that the club could only have dreamt of luring six months ago.
The war chest owners Qatar Sports Investments have brought from the Middle East has enabled such a deal for one of Europe’s most renowned tacticians. The Italian will sign a two and half year deal worth between €6m and €7m.
Having been dismissed by Chelsea on the final day of last season in the English Premier League, the 52-year-old has been linked with a host of elite clubs. He had revealed not too long ago that his main desire was to continue coaching in England having thoroughly enjoyed his time with The Blues – leading them to the league and cup double in his inaugural season. Like his new employers, the expectation at Chelsea is exceedingly high and ultimately paid the price for a severe dip in form during the winter months of the 2010/11 campaign, whilst also bowing out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.
His biggest claim to fame of course is his two European Cup triumphs with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007. In charge of the Rossoneri for eight years, he delivered eight major honours, including the club’s first Scudetto in 2004 after a five year hiatus.
His strengths as a Coach are varied, more efficient than anything else, building his teams from the back and implementing creativity via the flanks. At Chelsea he constructed this more rigorously with Florent Malouda, Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba working in tandem in a three man attack. He had to change his formation somewhat back in January with the arrival of Fernando Torres for £50m giving him a dilemma by trying to find the right formation to accommodate the Spaniard, proving to be a real conundrum – one that did not materialise.
In Italy, his teams would play more through the middle. Packing the midfield area with enforcers like Gennaro Gattuso and Clarence Seedorf gave his Milan side rigorous strength whilst complimented with the elegance of Kaka weaving his magic just in front, opening up pockets of space that frightened the life out of his opponents. Although the football at the San Siro was not always spectacular, results wise it proved to be imperious.
Now embarking on a brand new challenge in France, what will he bring to the Parisians? First and foremost the manner of his arrival will certainly have its sceptics. Antoine Kombouare had guided the club to the summit of Ligue 1, with a three point lead heading into the winter break. Why on earth would QSI pull the plug on a man who has given so much to the club is a question for another day, but it is not that complex. They are in awe of Ancelotti’s credentials, believing he is the man to take the club to that next level. The fact that he was also out of work would have had them believing that acquiring his services would be a once in a lifetime opportunity – so to speak – and linking him up with director of football Leonardo – having worked together at Milan – made perfect sense.
As big a move this is for Ancelotti, it is monumental for QSI. They have taken a huge gamble by axing a Coach whose record is pretty impeccable in a two year tenure, for a man whose CV is frightfully impressive but has no understanding of French football nor the ethics of the club. If this does not work out and PSG end up blowing their best chance of winning a Ligue 1 title for 18 years, the finger will solely be pointed at Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Leonardo.
Putting all that to one for side, his appointment is a significant indication as to how much the club has progressed since QSI did indeed take over. Who in the capital could have envisaged the day a multiple Champions League winner would take the helm? With David Beckham also expected to sign in the next week or so, marquee names such as that coming to the Parc des Princes boasts just how much appeal the club now beholds.
Today is indeed a significant step in the history of the football club but will it be one for the greater good? It remains to be seen. Ancelotti will be judged – as he should – on results. Kombouare thought likewise and a pretty superior record did not save him from the chop but ultimately he was not QSI’s pick. Now they have got their man, it is up to him to deliver and round off the good work of his predecessor.