This week is a testament to how often polar opposites collide in football. Whilst Roy Hodgson’s resignation as England manager came as no real shock given The Three Lions’ exit to Iceland at Euro 2016, Laurent Blanc’s sacking in favour of Spaniard Unai Emery left Paris Saint-Germain supporters more than a little perplexed.
The motives of PSG CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi are obvious, with the club having failed to pass the quarter-final stage of the UEFA Champions League since the 2012-13 season. Whilst Emery may not have experienced the same level of pressure that Blanc endured during his tenure in Europe’s most elite competition, the 44-year-old former Valencia manager has won the UEFA Europa League with Sevilla for three consecutive seasons.
Despite his almost peerless record of winning 11 out of a possible 15 titles in three years, Blanc’s tactical and almost ignominious debacle against Manchester City in the return leg of last season’s Champions League quarter-final seemingly cost the 50-year-old his position.
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Blanc’s impeccable record at the French club is not the only surprising element when considering his dismissal. Financially, Al-Khelaifi seems to have made an even greater blunder. The Frenchman signed a new deal in February to keep him at the French champions until the end of the 2017-18 season, only to be sacked three months later, for which the club were forced to pay around €20 million in compensation.
And whether it be a case of elitism or simple ignorance, some PSG supporters are more than a little disgruntled that this financial fiasco has led to someone who some term as a relative unknown in comparison with their preferred choices of Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho.
Nevertheless, Emery’s focus will turn to completing deals for Club Brugge and Belgium right-back Thomas Meunier to follow former Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa, whilst a deal for Olympique Lyonnais forward Alexandre Lacazette may be in the offing too to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Former France manager Blanc’s attention may turn to the international vacancy left my Roy Hodgson, with some media outlets such as The Mirror declaring him as an extremely strong candidate. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has also been touted as a potential candidate once his deal at the Emirates Stadium runs out at the end of next season, an option The Times say Wenger is considering, despite the club’s hierarchy’s attempts to tie him down to a new two-year-deal.
Whether Wenger has changed his stance on the England job, after stating in 2012 that the national side should be managed by an Englishman, is fundamental to the future of England’s national side. However, as Arsenal fans have learnt over the years, only one man knows when the 66-year-old will walk away from his 20-year stint at Arsenal.
Nevertheless, Blanc remains a plausible option, with four Ligue 1 and four Coupe de la Ligue titles to his name as a manager. His stint as a player at Manchester United would have given him an idea of the football culture in the country and assimilated him with the language, two key components for any England manager considering Fabio Capello’s shortcomings.
Roy Hodgson was on a yearly salary of £3.5 million, which roughly equates to Blanc’s wages at PSG. However, the 50-year-old will hope for a longer stint in the job should he be chosen, and perhaps more all-round success than he enjoyed at the French champions.