Paris St Germain have taken the unusual step of sacking a coach who has guided them to the top of the league for the first time in sixteen years, replacing him with Carlo Ancelotti.
It will appear odd to supporters who don’t follow the French league too closely, but in that is the clue as to why PSG have made this move. Raising their profile outside of France is key, and though Antoine Kombouaré did little, if anything wrong, he was not the big name the Qatari Investment Group which owns the club wanted. Ancelotti will raise their profile, as will David Beckham if they can succeed in signing him. Other big names, such as Kaka, Pato and Didier Drogba have been linked.
This is the new PSG. Having been bought by Qatari owners last summer, they have set about changing the image and nature of the club. This is a new club, ready to take on Europe and become one of the biggest teams on the continent. It is worth noting that PSG are the only team in one of Europe’s major leagues who are the single major side in a capital city. London has a number of major teams in the Premier League, the same goes for Madrid in Spain and Rome in Italy. Paris St Germain have unique potential, and for their Qatari owners, the higher profile is an essential part of the club’s progress.
Fans though won’t see it quite like this. Antoine Kombouaré played in defence for PSG the last time they won the league. He is a club legend and will be sorely missed by the passionate fans at the Parc des Princes.
Ancelotti now will have the task of continuing his work and turning PSG into one of Europe’s most stylish teams whilst winning titles. Kombouaré has already gone a long way towards both of those targets. PSG were playing wonderful football under his guidance and are top of the league after all. But fending off Lille, Montpellier and Lyon after such a huge change will be that little bit more tricky, and entirely of their own making too. The half way point in the season provided a useful break for which to make this decision.
Ancelotti has a talented squad, but his best player, Javier Pastore, has not been at his best recently. He will have to coax the best out of the Argentine, who started the season in superb form, but who has been below par and half the player he was in the opening weeks of the campaign. ‘El Flaco’ is key to this PSG team and the new boss will be hoping to get the best out of him to ensure that the team can go on and lift the title. But the owners are clearly determined to make their mark and rejuvenate the club’s profile.