Laurent Blanc stuck to his word and ended weeks of speculation by signing a new one-year contract extension till the summer of 2016. On the back of Wednesday’s title win, the gaffer told reporters that he will be signing his new deal imminently. This was backed up by Nasser Al-Khelaifi and was endorsed by club captain Thiago Silva who said after the loss to Rennes that he hoped the coach would stay. Thankfully, all now has been put to bed. Blanc had said for a number of weeks that he wanted the title to be wrapped up first before putting pen to paper. This move has been backed by the likes of Marco Verratti, Blaise Matuidi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic with the big man claiming “many more titles” will be won under the Frenchman’s stewardship. Now with the title in the bag and some continuity in the dugout, Les Parisiens are eyeing up another record after a season of breaking many.
With two games left, it may seem as if there is little to play for. But, the team can overhaul Olympique Lyonnais’ record points tally of 84 which was set back in the 2005/2006 season. We are just one point shy of that with 83 (which we accumulated in total last season), knowing that one or two results can break it. Blanc alluded to it in his pre-match presser yesterday, claiming he wants his side to break it. It would take a brave man to bet against it but after the performance in midweek against Rennes you could understand why. The news from the game in Monte Carlo last Wednesday meant that the capital club retained the title before a ball had been kicked at the Parc des Princes. That evidently affected the player’s state of mind who were just coasting through the 90. The performance was beyond poor and there should be a drastic improvement today against Lille (title won or not).
The club record of registering eight consecutive league wins, beating the previous record of six that was set in three different years (1986, 1996 and 2012) is an impressive stat and one Blanc can look back on in fondness. Also notching 11 consecutive victories that was eventually ended by Chelsea should also be admired. But, registering a record points tally will stand the test of time. Come the end of next weekend, Les Parisiens may have notched up 89 points which would be a fantastic feat. Not only that, it will smash the club record of 25 wins during a Ligue 1 season. So there is so much yet to play for even though the pessimists will argue that these sorts of records mean nothing to players.
If we are to do it, it is going to be tough. Third placed Lille need just two points to guarantee that third and final UEFA Champions League spot. Unbeaten in their last six, they are proving a tough nut to crack. We should know after that fantastic game back at the Parc just before Christmas which ended 2-2. LOSC could well have ended up winning that game after Salomon Kalou put them ahead just after the interval. Thankfully, Ibra came to the rescue 20 minutes from time. But their success has been built on defence. They have conceded just 22 goals this season, the same as us, which is the best in Ligue 1. Conceding just seven at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy emphasises their efficiency, losing just two in the process. You have to give Rene Girard credit in his debut season as coach of Les Dogues.
It will be interesting to see the mentality of the players tonight especially with the likes of Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani being out. Blanc has the opportunity to tinker with his side and perhaps players such as Hervin Ongenda will be given a run out.