After three trophy-laden years, Paris Saint-Germain’s most successful ever coach will say aurevoir to the Parc des Princes in a matter of days. With Sevilla’s Unai Emery waiting in the wings having agreed a three-year contract worth €5m per season according to Spanish radio station Cadena SER, it is just a matter of when and not if the club dismisses Laurent Blanc.
My readers know that I have been the staunchest defender of Blanc ever since he came through the door to replace Carlo Ancelotti in 2013. For a man who was practically the sixth choice candidate at the time, he has not exactly done too badly has he? The man will leave a legacy that quite frankly will never be replicated by another PSG coach until they – whomever that maybe – wins the Champions League. And I don’t see that happening as yet.
Two back-to-back domestic quadruples; it is an unprecedented feat and something that hasn’t been given enough credit. It bores me when I hear critics say that it doesn’t count due to the money we have invested. For a group of players to achieve that whether it’s in England, France, Scotland or Timbuktu, it doesn’t really matter as it is astoundingly difficult to maintain that level of success. Having won the lot in 2015, it could have been easy for the players to rest on their laurels. Instead, they were hungrier as ever to win and the coach deserves a vast amount of credit for that.
His tactical naivety has always been a flaw. And that was his downfall in the quarter-final away to Manchester City where a 3-5-2 formation – which we had never played under him – flopped massively. We were dreadful that night. The formation changed throughout the ninety minutes, the players looked lost and we bowed out with a whimper. City were not exactly playing us off the park either. It was a chance that went begging and the president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has been bitter about it ever since. He seems to blame the coach for that, especially if you look into that revealing interview he had with Le Parisien last Friday.
As a result, it has cost Blanc his job. Despite all the success on French soil, Europe is the holy grail for the hierarchy at the club. They are bringing in a man who has just won three European titles on the bounce with a mid-table Spanish side and is without doubt one of the continent’s most courted coaches.
Blanc though should be fondly remembered. How can he not be? Ancelotti had laid the foundations for him and he built on it tremendously. 11 trophies in three years! That says it all. But, his critics will no doubt say that it was all down to the players. No, I don’t buy into that. For his lack of tactical nous, the man is well liked at Camp des Loges. The players have a huge amount of respect for him. You don’t win to back-to-back domestic quadruples if the squad doesn’t have their coach’s back.
Yes, he made some mistakes. The City game is the most glaringly obvious one. Then there was the whole debacle after the 2014 World Cup when he played an unfit Thiago Silva in a friendly in Naples which injured the skipper, subsequently putting him on the shelf for a few months.
Mostly though, his three years have been the best in the short history of this football club. How can anyone forget the win over Chelsea in the last-16 last year when his job was literally hanging by a thread? Had we not won that tie on away goals, there is no doubt he would have been dismissed that summer. PSG were magnificent that night, a real memorable occasion during his tenure. It kind of definitively announced us to the world that this was a club on the rise with a team to match.
Laurent Blanc. Thank you for everything you have given for this club. You will not be forgotten and your record speaks for itself.