Ancelotti faces PSG dilemma
Published: 27.08.12 / Written by: David Gold
Carlo Ancelotti is finding it harder than he may have expected to carve out a winning team despite being the biggest spending team in Europe over the last two summers.
In have come Kevin Gameiro, Nicolas Douchez, Milan Bisevac, Blaise Matuidi, Diego Lugano, Alex, Maxwell, Thiago Silva, Thiago Motta, Mohamed Sissoko, Javier Pastore, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Marco Verratti, Salvatore Sirigu, Jeremy Menez and of course, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Lucas Moura is the next in line to go through the arrivals lounge at a Paris airport en route to the Parc des Princes.
With such big spending comes an obvious problem. Building a team, a cohesive unit pulling their weight for each other with a clear and defined style and philosophy. That is something Antoine Kombouaré was not doing a bad job of half way through last season, with the Parisians top of the table for the first time in a decade and a half.
Then he was sacked. Speculation had been around that he would meet that fate, but having done such a good job he managed to win a stay of execution until the winter break. At that point, Ancelotti arrived. Then the tinkering began. A cogent 4-2-3-1 became a 4-3-2-1.That then gave way eventually to a 4-3-3, with the front three consisting of attacking midfielders and no centre forward. And the defence constantly changed.
No wonder Montpellier took the initiative in the title race and eventually claimed the championship for the first time in their history. This year, PSG have spent even more, but on players of a higher profile and quality in Lavezzi and Ibrahimovic. Ancelotti still seems to be stuck as to how to set up his team though.
He opened the season with a 4-3-2-1 against Lorient, and had to be bailed out by a last minute Ibrahimovic penalty to rescue a point. Then last weekend they drew 0-0 with lowly Ajaccio, a likely relegation candidate. It was a shambles of sorts, the team lacking cohesion in the 4-3-3 with a false nine system that Ancelotti devised last season. That system had worked well actually, with Menez, Pastore and Nene in it.
The constant chopping and changing is doing PSG much harm. Already they are four points behind arch rivals Marseille, just two matches into the season. For a team so expensively assembled, this is a shockingly bad return on their investment. Yes, it is only two games into a 38 game season. But when you spend as much as PSG do, even that is no excuse.
Ancelotti now has to deal with this tactical dilemma. He seems wedded to the idea of three centrally positioned defensive midfielders behind a front three. Yet against Ajaccio Pastore played in the central three, even though he is an attacking player at heart. This tactical confusion is at the heart of the Parisians' worries. Ancelotti is struggling to devise a solution, despite having every conceivable tool available to him. It is a mess in tactical terms, and it may end up costing the team dear in their bid to finally reclaim the French title this year.