It would have come as great source of comfort for Laurent Blanc to see his boss and PSG owner Nasser Al-Khelafi publicly back the manager for at least the next season.
It seems silly to suggest a man who had only signed a new contract a few months ago was close to the exit. Stranger still that the manager needed defending moments after winning yet another cup competition.
The club’s Champions League exit has called Blanc’s position into question, but after a record-breaking league campaign, perhaps the French boss is deserving of one last season to try and bring European success.
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It wasn’t so long ago that Blanc appeared a wanted man. With his contract winding down, speculation linked him with a switch to Manchester United.
But following their two-legged loss at the hands of Manchester City, his position was called into question, and with Jose Mourinho still on the market, it is difficult not ponder and speculate. After all, he seems the calibre of manager PSG are now in a position to attract.
Domestic success has become a prerequisite for Blanc and likely any manager who succeeds him, which is very much indicative of PSG’s lofty ambitions. Progress in the Champions League is ultimately what he will be judged on.
Of course, the manner of his side’s domestic success weighs heavily in the Frenchman’s favour as an argument for him to stay.
While they toiled against Lyon last season, Zlatan Ibrahimovic & co strolled to success this time round winning the league as early as March, and Blanc was a great facilitator in that.
He also picked up his third Coupe de la Ligue winners medal in a row, taking his PSG haul to a weighty 10 trophies. But ‘Ol’ Big Ears’ still eludes him.
The French giants have fallen at the quarter-finals for the fourth time in a row. To hit the same hurdle time and again is likely both worrying and frustrating for PSG fans.
He is not a man without his faults. In what was arguably the biggest match of PSG’s season, the Frenchman opted to play away against Manchester City with an untested 3-5-2.
His side were already defensively vulnerable, as evidenced by the two sloppy goals they conceded in the first leg. To opt for three at the back with Aurier, a full-back playing at centre back was a huge risk and proved a costly mistake.
True, he had to deal with some major absentees, and the presence of Marco Verratti and Blaise Matuidi would have helped immensely.
Blanc has spent years finely crafting his squad and PSG have never been better than they are right now, yet despite heavy investment, it proved insufficient. They rule the roost in France, but not Europe – yet.
With Ibrahimovic and potentially Edinson Cavani leaving in the summer, PSG face a major rebuilding job in the summer.
Sticking with Blanc represents long term thinking, lest they devolve into the speedy hire-fire culture much of modern football seems to have succumb to.
There is every chance Blanc may not be the man to take PSG to Champions League glory. But he has at the very least earned the opportunity to try.
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