As 2014 draws to a close, 1970 PSG takes a look at the positives and negatives from what has been yet another incredible 12 months for Paris Saint-Germain. It will go down as a pivotal year in the club’s history having retained the Ligue 1 title for the very first time and of course capping it off with the Coupe de la Ligue in that victory over Olympique Lyonnais at the Stade de France.
Retaining the Ligue 1 title
Without question, the best moment of the year! This was a significant step in the history of the football club. Getting over that initial hurdle of winning the title for the first time in 19 years in 2013 was massive, but to actually retain it most probably eclipsed it.
Many will argue that we did not have any notable contenders in the title race but that should not deter anything away from the achievement. Ligue 1 is as strenuous as it gets in European football. There are no easy games, particularly on the road.
The way we won the title was bittersweet really. Guingamp who had just won the Coupe de France, held Monaco to a 1-1 draw in Monte Carlo. ASM needed to win that in order to keep alive their slim chance of catching us at the top which they failed to do. This happened minutes before we faced Rennes at the Parc des Princes. We took our eye off the ball in the game and it became more of an exhibition. We subsequently lost 1-0 which was our first at the Parc during the season and our first home loss since November 2012.
Days after the title retention, Monsieur Blanc signed a new one-year contract extension until 2016. This was the least he deserved. As my readers know, I am a staunch defender of LB. The man has his flaws went it comes to tactical nous but the fact that he led us to a league and cup double when he was practically sixth/seventh choice, speaks volumes.
He is a good, honest man; a revered figure in French football. He continued the impeccable work of his predecessor Carlo Ancelotti and the club has grown tremendously for it.
Whatever happens in the Champions League (where LB will ultimately be judged) nobody affiliated with the club can knock the man. Hats off to you LB! Well done!
The Coupe de la Ligue win
It was our first major domestic trophy in four years. That 2-1 victory over Lyon came off the back of our exit from the Champions League so it was a welcome boost for everyone at the club. It may have been against a depleted OL side but the football we played in the first-half was as good as it had been for weeks. Blaise Matuidi was excellent during the 90 minutes.
We wrapped up the league two and half weeks later and probably should have done it sooner had we not slipped up away to Sochaux.
The ever reliable Thiago Motta
Thiago Motta has been exceptional since he arrived at Les Parisiens in January 2012 from Internazionale. He has been absolutely vital to our success and a key component in the spine of the team.
His involvement during the 2013/14 season was massive! Those injury woes that had plagued his time in Paris were put behind and he went onto have the best season of his career.
I named him 1970 PSG’s Player of the Season. An exceptional player whose involvement has been severely underrated by many outside the Parc des Princes.
The renaissance of Javier Pastore
Who saw this one coming at the beginning of the season? Not only has JP played his way back into the team but he is now one of the first names on the team sheet. He along with Lucas Moura is our main attacking outlet. The free role Blanc has given the Argentine – along with the belief – has resulted in El Flaco being quite possibly our player of the season thus far. It is certainly tightly contested between the 25-year-old and Lucas.
And on Lucas…
There are not enough superlatives to do this lad justice. The inconsistences in his game and slight doubts about him blossoming into a top draw player have been swept aside. LM has stepped up to the plate and more. The Parisian supporters adore this boy! He makes things happen. He is a catalyst in attack and scares opposition defences to death.
There is so much more to come!
The number of records broken by this side must be noted. Winning eight consecutive games in the league, breaking the previous record of six was impressive. However, beating Olympique Lyonnais’ points tally of 84 which lasted for eight years is unprecedented. We accumulated a total of 89!
That tally alone is testament to just how dominant the team has been in France and again Blanc deserves credit.
Financial Fair Play
This left a massive blemish on all the good work done by the football club during the summer. It also played a detrimental effect on our transfer plans.
The club was left looking for possible loopholes to try and overcome the repercussions. The Serge Aurier deal is evidence of that with it being a loan. We also tried to do this for Angel di Maria but negotiations with Real Madrid broke down.
What happened here? Jezza was a forgotten man during the 2013/14 season and played no part at all. His frosty relationship with Laurent Blanc meant he hardly figured – just warming the bench.
JM was one of the more notable signings when QSI acquired the club in 2011. He along with Pastore, Nene and Kevin Gameiro forged a terrific understanding in the first-half of that season but it was not to last. His temperament has always been an issue as well. This even happened under Toni Kombouare during a 4-2 victory over Caen when he was substituted. Menez to his credit came out in the press to apologise by saying; “I like being on the pitch. But I know that we must respect the choices of the coach, he must consider the run of matches and spare playing time for each other. I would like to apologise to him because it is not right to leave the pitch with that attitude”.
He has somewhat been of an afterthought but best of luck to him in Milan!
Since he done his hamstring in the first-leg meeting with Chelsea in the Champions League quarter-final back in April, Ibra has had to contest with a number of injuries. The biggest problem is his heel which has put him on the shelf for a large portion of the season so far. The club doctor even said that Zlatan will probably have issues with this up until the summer which is worrying.
The Champions League exit to Chelsea
There is no doubt that the second-leg defeat to the Blues tainted Laurent Blanc. Heading to London with a first-leg 3-1 victory under our belts, an away goal would have booked our place in the last-four. But after a bright opening half-hour we were second best and ultimately paid the price via a late Demba Ba goal to make it 2-0 on the night.
The Parisian media have not forgotten that night and poor Monsieur Blanc is under intense scrutiny whenever anything goes remotely wrong. The defeat to Barcelona a few weeks back echoes that. As I have said before, Blanc will ultimately be judged on our performance in Europe.
The Coupe de France exit
This was a real body blow back in January. We succumbed to a disappointing loss to Montpellier, thus missing a real opportunity to go afar in that competition. If ever there was a chance to put something right, we have the opportunity to do so on the 5th January when the competition gets underway again. Who do we have? Montpellier of course!
It just has not worked out for YC has it? I wrote an article a few weeks back saying the Frenchman should consider a return to England. From his injuries, to sitting on the bench and being played far too deep in midfield (which hinders his attributes), the former Newcastle United man has not been able to stamp his mark in Parisian blue.
The sad thing is that it does not look like it will happen in 2015 either.