Pressure builds on PSG players, coach and director despite late win … – The Guardian

A 95th-minute goal from Lionel Messi helped PSG dodge a fourth straight defeat but all is not well at the club
By Adam White for Get French Football News
When PSG were trailing Lille 3-2 with 15 minutes to play, coach Christophe Galtier was joined on the touchline at the Parc des Princes. Famed sporting director Luis Campos, who engineered Lille and Monaco’s recent title-winning squads, left his usual seat in the stands to bark orders and complain about decisions. Although known to be fiercely opinionated, Campos’ ire spilling over in such a public fashion is unprecedented. After three consecutive defeats in three competitions last week, pressure is growing on Galtier. Campos, it seems, feels it too.
Lionel Messi’s injury-time free-kick eventually won the game for PSG 4-3 but it did little to mask the team’s continued disjointed form, which has come at the worst possible time for Galtier. It had been a tough week, with PSG knocked out of the Coupe de France by Marseille, beaten 3-1 by Monaco in the league, and then – with Kylian Mbappé only fit for the bench – defeated 1-0 in Paris by Bayern Munich to put them on the brink of Champions League elimination.
The situation says more about Campos’ failures as a sporting director than Galtier’s struggles as a coach. Few other directors in world football would have appointed Galtier, who was always Campos’ only priority after the pair had worked together at Lille. Galtier heads a group of workmanlike but adaptable and quietly effective French coaches who have toured Ligue 1’s top half this century. His peers are the likes of Claude Puel and Rudi Garcia. They are experienced and strategically astute managers, but lack the flair, tactical innovation and overarching ideas to rival managers such as Julian Nagelsmann or Pep Guardiola.
Admittedly, Galtier’s charismatic persona and considered game-to-game strategy puts him in the same school as Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane, and that is perhaps the type of coach PSG need to manage their supremely talented but unwieldy squad. However, his relative lack of gravitas and elite playing experience are major deficiencies. It was obvious that Galtier could soon find himself out of his depth. Campos has reportedly sounded out José Mourinho as a possible replacement, which suggests the sporting director is simply picking the managers he knows rather than analysing and identifying the best candidate for the role.
Mourinho’s style as a man-manager who coaches with a pragmatic strategy puts him in a similar category to Zidane, Ancelotti and Galtier, but his genuine successes are fading. Although his spells at Tottenham and Manchester United look better in hindsight, his initial strengths – his charm, fierce siege mentality and ability to strike up close bonds with players – have morphed into a cantankerous, argumentative and often toxic persona. Given PSG’s repeated inability to control egos and haughty individualism, adding an increasingly embittered Mourinho to the equation seems almost laughably self-destructive.
Campos has not worked with such high expectations before. He is a master at identifying cheap, leftfield signings who are capable of playing at a higher level and have major resale value, so his relatively modest targets at Monaco and Lille suited that skillset. At PSG, though, that skill is largely redundant. PSG operate in an entirely different market and primarily need elite players who will have an impact at the highest level immediately. Although Campos should be commended for putting more faith in the club’s prolific but underused youth system, signings of “€3m to €6m” – as Campos once defined his preferred price range – are not going to win PSG the Champions League.
Speaking earlier this month, Campos said: “Big stars can’t win trophies alone. They can win a game or two, but they need the other PSG players.” Those big stars seemingly disagree. L’Équipe reported last week that senior players were unhappy with recent transfer business, not understanding why Leandro Paredes, Idrissa Gueye and Julian Draxler were let go in favour of Vitinha, Fabián Ruiz and Carlos Soler. These signing have youth, resale value and maybe even a higher ceiling on their side, but the overall improvement in the team is minimal at best.
If PSG are looking longer term, the pressure on Galtier, contact with Mourinho and developing sense of “crisis” is very hasty (although typically so). They are still five points clear in Ligue 1, after all. However, there are clear gaps in the squad. Campos’ dealings have left PSG light at centre-back, despite weeks of talks with Inter defender Milan Skriniar. A failure to secure Hakim Ziyech, or a similar forward, has left them short in attack too. That was not entirely Campos’ fault, after a series of administrative errors from Chelsea on deadline day, but why the signing was left so late is a mystery.
Nevertheless, the talk of a crisis at PSG is partly the result of paranoia and post-traumatic stress after repeated European heartbreak. Defeats at Marseille and Monaco are hardly embarrassments. PSG’s two closest challengers are well coached and efficient teams with swathes of quality – they should be challenging PSG, or any team in European football.
Ligue 1 has improved dramatically in the last five years, which is good news for PSG. The increased competition means Galtier’s squad is tested regularly and deficiencies can be exposed before it’s too late in the Champions League. The higher level also brings greater meaning to their domestic triumphs; not winning every game and league title is a more than acceptable tradeoff.
Although Galtier insisted Campos’ touchline cameo was not an issue – explaining that “there is no intervention on a technical or tactical level – there is only passion” – Campos, who supposedly pushed the initial move to 3-4-1-2 in the summer, is becoming increasingly overbearing. His relationship with the squad is also seemingly strained. He burst into the dressing room after the Monaco defeat to berate players for a lack of aggression, leading to a heated and lengthy argument with Neymar and captain Marquinhos. He too may be out of his depth.
Half a season after club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi hailed the “end of bling-bling” and seemed to signal a new era under the Campos-Galtier ticket, pressure is once again building on PSG’s players, coaches and directors. And once again, it’s of their own making.

PSG 4-3 Lille
Brest 1-2 Monaco
Lorient 3-0 Ajaccio
Rennes 2-0 Clermont
Troyes 0-1 Montpellier
Lens 3-1 Nantes
Toulouse 2-3 Marseille
Nice 0-0 Reims
Strasbourg 2-1 Angers
Auxerre 2-1 Lyon 
Lyon slumped to their ninth defeat of the season at relegation-threatened Auxerre on Friday night. With Alexandre Lacazette missing, Moussa Dembélé returned to the team and scored the opener, but Auxerre – who had won just one of their previous 19 league games – scored twice just after half-time and held on for the 2-1 win. Lyon are struggling in midtable despite a strong, if thinning, squad and the wisdom of replacing Peter Bosz with Laurent Blanc – a “safe-hands” appointment typical of president Jean-Michel Aulas – looks increasingly misguided. A second season without European football awaits.
After an impressive 3-2 comeback win over freewheeling Toulouse, Marseille centre-back Chancel Mbemba said: “Of course we are thinking about the title, but we’ll take it match by match.” Without European football to distract them and with Igor Tudor’s ruthless efficiency breeding consistency, Marseille are genuine title challengers. They will be hoping their rivals’ European run does not end any time soon, as PSG’s obsession with Champions League success could yet open the door for Marseille domestically.
This is an article from Get French Football News
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