x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Carlo Ancelotti well suited to pressures of Paris Saint-Germain

The former AC Milan and Chelsea manager has the experience to bring honours to the Ligue 1 leaders.

Carlo Ancelotti is confident of winning silverware in France to add to his past success in Italy and England.
Carlo Ancelotti is confident of winning silverware in France to add to his past success in Italy and England.

A month into his tenure as coach of Paris Saint-Germain, Carlo Ancelotti is still orientating himself.

His spoken French is at the beginner's stage, so his assistant Claude Makelele helps out in dialogues with French players.

It has been noted that in his early practice sessions he tended to issue instructions most assertively to the goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, to the playmakers Jeremy Menez and Javier Pastore, and to the midfielder Momo Sissoko.

They are all important individuals in the team. They are also all footballers who had played in Italy, which means the Italian Ancelotti perhaps knew their first names a little better than some other members of a PSG squad where there has been a high turnover of staff since the club sold a majority shareholding to Qatari investors and spelled out their raised ambitions with huge spending.

The badges of that investment are Ancelotti, Pastore, who cost more than €40 million (Dh193.2m) from Palermo last summer, and the trio of winter-window additions - the defender Alex from Chelsea, Thiago Motta fromInter Milan and Maxwell from Barcelona at a combined total of nearly €20m in fees.

As Ancelotti told L'Equipe, the French sports newspaper: "The players have shown me a lot of respect, probably because I have won a lot of titles."

This is not boastful. It is a plain fact and wise man-management. Carlo Ancelotti, winner of two Champions Leagues and domestic league titles in Serie A and the Premier League, has the kind of medal collection that most of his PSG players can only aspire to.

If some of them grow egotistical at being part of a project with resources far superior to any other in Ligue 1, he will act with authority to bring them back into line.

Ancelotti needs to put his own stamp on the club. He cannot do that by improving their league position. PSG were top of the table when Antoine Kombouare was dismissed in late December, a few weeks after a disappointing exit from the Europa League at its group stage.

PSG are still top of the table, three points clear of Montpellier, and so far Ancelotti's record reads: Played Four, Won Four.

Two of those games were against lower-division opponents in the Cup, so not much can be read into his initial impact on the field.

Off it, the arrivals of Alex, who played for Ancelotti at Chelsea, plus Motta and the ex-Inter left-back Maxwell, who both played in Serie A while Ancelotti was coaching AC Milan, will have been approved by the new coach even if the management structure at PSG, where the former Milan and Inter coach Leonardo is director of football, puts recruitment strategy is various hands.

It is believed that Ancelotti had doubts about the value of hiring David Beckham. Several high-ups at PSG wanted the former England captain at the club, and it may be coincidence that a possible deal with Beckham, 36, once thought very likely, seemed to fade once the Italian was confirmed as coach. He did pointedly emphasise yesterday how much he enjoyed being among "the young players" at PSG.

He also told a story about executive interference. Ancelotti has long experience of that, having worked under Silvio Berlusconi at AC Milan and Roman Abramovich at Chelsea.

"One day Berlusconi announced the team must always play with two strikers," he said. "I said to him 'But we have been doing that, with Inzaghi and Kaka.' He said: 'But the only one who's an out-and-out striker is Inzaghi.' I answered: 'But Kaka is playing as a striker.' So, you see, it all depends how you view the game."

Ancelotti, even with his beginner's French, may be aware there is a view, among some fans, that the expensively assembled PSG, who are at home to Evian tonight, ought to be scoring more goals. Montpellier, and the defending champions, Lille, are both more prolific in Ligue 1 so far. PSG's owners will also demand regular panache at the Parc des Princes from their decorated coach.