PSG President on Thomas Tuchel After UCL Exit: 'I Trust the Coach'March 7, 2019
Thomas Tuchel has received the backing of Paris Saint-Germain President Nasser Al-Khelaifi after their shock exit from the UEFA Champions League at the hands of Manchester United on Wednesday.
PSG were victims of a historic turnaround by the Red Devils, who went into the clash at the Parc des Princes 2-0 down from the first leg but qualified on away goals after a 3-1 win (U.S. only):
James Ducker @TelegraphDucker
This is the 1st time in 107 attempts that a team has overturned a 2-0 home deficit to progress in the European Cup. Gives some perspective to the scale of United's achievement, not least given the make up of the team. Seriously ballsy performance.Smalling, Lindelof, Lukaku superb
It means the French giants have fallen short in the Champions League in each of the seven seasons they have qualified since being bought by Qatar Sports Investments, and they have been dumped out in the first knockout round three years running.
Despite the shock loss, which evoked memories of PSG's capitulation at the same stage against Barca two years ago, Al-Khelaifi said after the match he has faith in Tuchel, per L'Equipe (h/t the Press Association, via MailOnline):
"I trust the coach. We will see his decision, if he wants to change or if he does not change. But it's not because we have lost a match that we have to act now. We must make decisions with a cool head. But this is not the moment. We want to calm down. We want to see what the coach wants too. It's very important."
Despite the endorsement, Al-Khelaifi expressed his frustration at the shock exit.
"I'm very disappointed with the result and the game," Al-Khelaifi said, per The Independent. "I don't understand how we lost. We won 2-0 there. Here in Paris we lost 3-1. We gave them everything to win. It was easy for them. I don't understand."
Given how dominant PSG are domestically, their managers are largely judged on how they fare on the European stage.
Failure in the Champions League has previously cost Unai Emery and Laurent Blanc their jobs at the Parc des Princes.
Tuchel was only appointed in May and has overseen a largely impressive campaign in 2018-19, not least in masterminding a fantastic performance at Old Trafford.
However, he must take some of the blame for Wednesday's defeat, even though his players squandered a number of chances to put the tie to bed before Marcus Rashford's stoppage-time penalty:
Get French Football News @GFFN
Solskjaer realised he’d made a mistake with Bailly tonight & replaced him decisively & early. Tuchel, in the image of his own team, hesitated, taking Kehrer off only in the 70th. What if the only way for PSG to win the Champions’ League was by hiring a coach who already has?
Jonathan Johnson @Jon_LeGossip
To be clear, I am not laying most of the blame at Tuchel’s door here. I simply do not understand sticking with a tactic that was custom made for a tough away tie. Doing so meant that certain players were being asked to replicate 1st leg performances that were circumstantial.
Al-Khelaifi's comments indicate a stay of execution for Tuchel, and it would seem premature to get rid of him so soon after his appointment.
PSG are 17 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 with a game in hand, and there were extenuating circumstances to Wednesday's defeat, as Neymar was sidelined and Edinson Cavani could only start on the bench.
The premature nature of PSG's exit from this season's Champions League does mean, though, that Tuchel has zero scope for more disappointment.
Assuming the German is still at PSG next term, he will likely only remain past 2019-20 if he can steer the club to the semis or final of the Champions League.