Paris Saint-Germain’s 1-0 victory over Lyon at the Stade Gerland signalled the end of a 19-year wait for the capital club’s third Ligue 1 title. PSG were last league winners in 1994, and Carlo Ancelotti’s sides’ triumph is the first silverware under new owners Qatar Sports Investments (and hopefully not the last!).
It was secured by a 53rd-minute Jeremy Menez goal, and the full-time whistle sparked wild celebrations in the backyard of Les Parisiens’ once-mighty rivals. The realisation of the all-important trophy of the modern era though also presents a big question.
Where to now for PSG and in particular, Ancelotti?
The Italian was as tight-lipped as ever insisting that a decision “has not been made yet” about his future when quizzed after the match. Skeptics will take that as a negative sign as there is no better time to nail your colours to the mast with regard to your future intentions than after winning a title.
Ancelotti though has done fantastically well to guide the capital club to this coveted title. To bounce back from last season’s disappointment after losing out to Montpellier on the last day of the season has taken determination and discipline.
To ride the storm of continued pressure as the two-time Champions League winner has is also admirable, particularly after it appeared that his job could be on the line after a string of poor results in late November.
But Ancelotti has taken it all in his stride and kept his team focused in the league and in the Champions League while others (most notably sporting director Leonardo) have been losing their heads. The big question is, will he be there to lead the team next season?
In recent weeks it has appeared increasingly likely that Ancelotti’s future will depend on guarantees that Leonardo plays little or no role in future transfers and stops meddling in the team’s affairs (via ESPNFC). But the Brazilian’s position has been undermined by recent behaviour of his own.
Starting with quotes he made following a 1-0 defeat at Reims admitting that the team is “not made for France,” Leonardo’s role at the club and importance has been questioned (via ESPNFC). Then there was his shove on referee Alexandre Castro after the Valenciennes match last week and his continued interference with first-team affairs.
The behaviour points to an inevitable split, but where will PSG lie on this issue?
On the one hand they have a gifted tactician, arguably the man for the job right now and a coach that crucially has the players’ support. On the other they have the sporting director, the man who has put the club back on the map but has a history of hit-or-miss transfers and is upsetting the coach.
Recent reports have linked Leonardo with a return to Italy with Inter Milan (via Football Italia). Following his bust-up with star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic after the victory in Lyon on Sunday, those rumours will likely escalate. But PSG could lose out massively and see both depart the French capital this summer if the club do not make their feelings known on the matter.
Leonardo, it appears, has lost the respect of many at the club with his recent behaviour; some might even say that he is trying to get himself sacked, but there can be no doubt that the club would like to keep Ancelotti.
For a start, the title success has automatically renewed his contract for another season, so would require some serious negotiation to get out of. Though Ancelotti could argue he didn't sign up to work with someone who can't let go of being a coach.
Whatever happens next, it appears that the pair’s futures are not linked and that the only way for Ancelotti to continue at the club is without Leonardo and vice versa. But with Real Madrid looming over PSG as speculation (via ESPNFC) over the Italian’s future continues, the club will have to work fast on securing his future and making an announcement.
The players appear keen for Ancelotti to continue (via ESPNFC), but nobody has spoken out in defence of Leonardo yet. They probably won’t at all. The capital club’s future certainly depends on their next move, though, and the wrong decision could have disastrous consequences.
Do PSG stick with the man who has brought them hard-earned success, safe in the knowledge that more is likely to follow if he is allowed to do his job properly and without interference? Or, do they stay loyal to the man who has turned the club into a European giant in a short space of time and brought the world’s media to the Parc des Princes doorstep?
The answer will no doubt come soon enough.