With all of the speculation surrounding Carlo Ancelotti refusing to go away despite reports that he has told his Paris Saint-Germain players that he intends to stay at the club next season (via ESPNFC), the PSG job remains a topic of debate.
Although he has officially ruled out the possibility of leaving Arsenal for the Ligue 1 giants (via Sky Sports), Arsene Wenger remains a name linked with the post. As does Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, even though he has been tipped for a return to former club Chelsea by Ancelotti himself (via ESPNFC).
The outsider at this point, though perhaps a more feasible option, is Malaga’s Chilean tactician Manuel Pellegrini who has apparently been the subject of a formal approach from PSG (via Inside Spanish Football). The former Villarreal and Real Madrid coach took a heavily sanctioned and depleted Andalusian side to the quarterfinals of the Champions League where they narrowly lost out to Borussia Dortmund.
The two prime candidates, Wenger and Mourinho, pose the capital club a question of philosophy. But what, if any, philosophy would they like to instil in the club over time and which values are highest on their list of priorities?
Arguably, Wenger will require a long-term commitment, patience and the power to oversee radical changes from the playing squad to the club’s facilities. Mourinho, though, offers the promise of immediate success but little guarantee that any potential stay at the Parc des Princes would be a long-lasting affair.
The Portuguese has not stayed at any club for more than three years, even the ones where he has enjoyed considerable success. With Ancelotti’s current side representing a strong spine of any side under a potential new coach, you can see why the position would appeal to "the Special One."
With plenty of money, good facilities and some top talent already at the club, crucial Champions League experience has already been added with this season’s run to the quarterfinals after an eight year absence from Europe’s top table. PSG it seems, are primed for success regardless of whoever takes over next.
It for exactly those reasons that Wenger is likely to stick to his guns regarding his decision, and to resist any overtures from close friend Nasser Al-Khelaifi the PSG President. The Frenchman would prefer to build the team up from a lower level, avoiding big-name purchases and instead concentrating on team chemistry and most probably, domestic talent.
Pellegrini on the other hand, is perhaps a bit of both Wenger and Mourinho.
The Chilean is equally as pragmatic and able to concentrate on the job in hand despite difficult circumstances and high pressure surrounding the club. That was evidenced by his ability to lead Malaga in La Liga and in Europe whilst the club’s future was uncertain off it for financial reasons. The club from the Costa del Sol went into this season’s Champions League knowing that it would be a one-time experience for them with a two-year ban from continental competition to follow.
That didn’t perturb Pellegrini, who has also been able to show in his time with the club that he has an eye for canny transfer dealing despite a limited budget. Santi Cazorla, Jose Salomon Rondon, Joaquin, Jeremy Toulalan and Willy Caballero are some of the talented signings that he made since his 2010 appointment.
But the club’s financial problems that forced the sales of Cazorla and Rondon, also demonstrated his considerable talent to nurture youth with the promotion of Isco to a key member of the first team proving to be a revelation.
Wenger too would likely champion the causes of many of PSG’s young talents, but Mourinho would probably prefer to stick with proven talent to enjoy immediate success. The possibility of putting a long-term legacy in place likely appeals to the capital club, but short-term success, especially given the current strength of the side is undoubtedly the main priority.
There is of course a way for the club to enjoy both, and that is to prevent Ancelotti from joining Real Madrid. Regardless of how much Los Blancos may want the Italian, his contract automatically renews should PSG win the Ligue 1 title this season.
Given the emerging stories regarding him speaking with the players to assure them of his presence in Paris next season, the chances of him staying with the club are as high as the chances of him joining Real are.
In terms of a potential replacement, both Wenger and Mourinho have their advantages and disadvantages. But the real question lies with PSG, what direction the club wants to take and the philosophy they want to put in place.
Wenger undoubtedly would be the best choice for that, but does he have the energy to invest himself in such a project once more? Is Mourinho the best candidate even though he will only likely stay for one or two seasons prolonging such a decision? Pellegrini would arguably be the best-suited compromise should PSG have to make a decision, but Ancelotti remains the best man for the job.
To avoid such a contentious topic of debate, it would make sense to persevere with the long-term project they started with the Italian, exhausting all avenues with him before reluctantly proceeding the search for a successor.