Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Transfer deadline day fun and games

Much like Justin Bieber, January's transfer deadline day is a triumph of hype over substance.

Rarely do big moves happen on January 31, but that doesn't stop Sky Sports News going into overdrive in the hope that they might get a repeat of last year's Fernando Torres/Andy Carroll merry-go-round. Presumably it's the same in France, there must be a Gallic version of Jim White getting ready for a busy day on Infosport or one of the other channels.

Any reporters who happen to be lurking around outside the gates of Camp-des-Loges on the look-out for cars with blacked-out windows could be in for a long day, as Paris St Germain seem unlikely to sign anyone. The Thiago Motta trail appears to have gone cold, despite Inter signing a couple of midfielders yesterday, and though today's Parisien moots a move for Diego Milito, it seems more in hope than expectation. Canal+, meanwhile, are reporting that we've agreed terms with Damiao, but not his club Internacional.

But you never know what could come out of left-field, here are a few stories which I think could happen later today:

PSG make failed bid for Ronaldo
The real Ronaldo that is. You may remember he stopped by at the club earlier this month (above) to visit his former Real Madrid team-mate Claude Makalele. What wasn't made public was that Leonardo offered him a contract worth €3,4545456,23435,223234 a week to come out of retirement. "The deal is done, Ronaldo will be a PSG player" a source close to the club will tell Al Jazeera this afternoon, only for the Brazilian to deny it two hours later, declaring he is happy where he is (on the sofa, eating pies).

Dimitri Payet to do some more sight-seeing
My favourite story of the last transfer window was that of St Etienne forward Payet making a dash to Paris on January 31. Though most sources suggested this was ahead of a proposed move to PSG, St Etienne co-president Roland Romeyer had a different explanation: “Dimitri is in Paris because he went to see the Eiffel Tower," he said. Expect Payet, now at Lille, to be spotted at Notre Dames this afternoon.

QSI hijack Sochaux's moves for Yaya Banana and King Osanga
Because what's the point of having loads of money if you can't sign players on the basis of them having amusing names?

PSG shun big names and sign some proven Ligue 1 players in positions that actually need filling
Sorry, strayed too far into the realms of fantasy there.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Brest 0-1 PSG: Notta gotta Motta

Just call me the Parisien Cafu
Carlo Ancelotti's unbeaten start as Paris St Germain boss continued on Saturday as the PSG won 1-0 at Brest.

Newly converted roving right-back Milan Bisevac got the only goal with a real poachers effort in the sixth minute, his first for the club. I say poachers effort because he didn't appear to know a great deal about it, the ball striking his shin as Christophe Jallet's corner came into the six yard box and rebounding into the net.

PSG missed several chances to make their margin of victory greater, with Nene and Kevin Gameiro both in wasteful form, and Matthieu Bodmer hitting the bar with a spectacular angled volley. The fact we couldn't put a mediocre side like Brest away a bit more comfortably is a concern, and highlights what I was saying on the blog on Friday about our lack of attacking options. Jeremy Menez joined Pastore on the sidelines after withdrawing from the team with a thigh injury, meaning Bodmer was pressed into service in an advanced role.

That said, Blaise Matuidi was back for his first start in a couple of months, and though Momo Sissoko went off injured during the match, Ancelotti said afterwards he expects Sissoko and Jezza to train this week ahead of Sunday's match against Evian.

"It was an important win, it is never easy to win at Brest," said Carletto, speaking like a man who's seen a lot of Brest, ahem.

"We started well by scoring and we played some good football during the opening 25 minutes. We then had some problems readjusting after Sissoko went off and Brest caused us problems."

Ancelotti also said after the match that he doesn't expect a new striker to arrive before the transfer window closes tomorrow night, meaning we'll be going through the rest of the season with just Gameiro and Guillarme Hoarau as attacking options. Great.

It also seems unlikely that Thiago Motta's proposed move from Inter Milan is going to happen in the next 24 hours.

"I've asked the club, Thiago Motta will stay", Inter boss Claudio Ranieri told Sky Italia yesterday, blowing a big raspberry in Leonardo's direction. "As far as I know, he will remain with us."

Friday, 27 January 2012

Ice-cold Alex arrives as PSG prepare for Brest examination

You probably haven't heard of Ezio, a band from my home town who make good music but inexplicably only seem to be famous in Germany.

Fear not though, they don't sound like David Hasselhoff, and I reckon they could have an in-road into the French market thanks to Paris St Germain's capture of Chelsea centre-back Alex.

One of Ezio's most famous songs is entitled Alex (above), and the refrain would make a perfect terrace chant for our new signing: "Ice cold, ice cold, ice cooooooold, ice cold like Al-ex". I can almost hear the Bolougne Boys singing it as I type this.

Costing around £4million, the Brazilian, who counts Santos and PSV Eindhoven among his former clubs, has arrived to join the long list of centre backs at Carlo Ancelotti's disposal.

"He has a lot of experience because he played in the Dutch and English leagues and also with his national team," said Ancelotti of his new signing. "He is a great professional. I think he will have a good season."

Hurrah and indeed hooray. But aside from the fact it's nice to have another experienced player about the place, this seems to me to be a totally superfluous signing. If there's one area of the team that doesn't need strengthening, it's the centre of defence. With Ancelotti having named Sakho as his captain, this signing can't be good news for Diego Lugano who, as I speculated yesterday, could be off elsewhere.

And with the squad being paper-thin elsewhere, surely the club's time would've been better spent pursuing other targets and giving Sakho and Lugano some time to form a partnership? We only have two strikers, and with Pastore out we'll be short of players for the second tier of the Christmas tree if one half of Nenez (I coined that earlier and am quite pleased with it) gets injured too. This strikes me as a signing of a (relatively) big name just for the sake of it.

Anyway, Alex won't be involved when we play Brest tomorrow. I'll save my lame puns for the match report though you'll probably have noticed that one has sneaked into the headline. In terms of team news, Jallet replaces Chantome, which seems very harsh on CC, and Menez comes in for Pastore. Kick off is at 7pm, allez Paris!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Erding finally exits PSG

After weeks of being linked with all and sundry, PSG have finally completed a striker transfer.

The only problem is that it involved a player leaving the Parc des Princes rather than arriving, with Mevlut Erding joining Rennes for €8million.

"He's a very special player; he's complete," said Rennes boss Frederic Antonetti, setting an extremely high bar for his new signing.

"He makes excellent runs and creates a lot of chances for himself. He just needs to rediscover the confidence he has lost, and get back into his rhythm."

So far it's been a good season for Erding. He scored one goal, a late winner against Toulouse, which earned him a new contract and a pay-rise. Since then he's had to do very little to earn his money, aside from the odd ineffective cameo from the bench. He's still a decent player, and with a record of roughly a goal every three games for the PSG you would expect him to thrive at Rennes.

With his departure, it looks increasingly likely that we'll go through the second half of the season with only two recognised strikers in the squad. On Tuesday Leo confirmed that our interest in He Who Must Not Be Named is over, and it's becoming difficult to see who else we can bring in to bolster the front line before Tuesday's transfer deadline. Perhaps Peguy Luyindula can be persuaded to drop his law-suit against the club and make a sensational return from exile to spear-head our title charge...

Elsewhere PSG have been linked with Chelsea "star" Salomen Kalou Florent Malouda Fernando Torres Frank Lampard Alex Jose Bosingwa, who is apparently available for €4million. There can't be many Chelsea players who aren't on PSG's radar, I await the news that we've put in a bid for Nigel Spackman.

Alex looks like he might actually join ("For Alex, there is a possibility but it's not done yet," Leo told L'Equipe yesterday) while Thiago Motta's agent has been busy talking up the possibility of his client making a move from Inter Milan.

Motta started as Inter lost to Napoli in the Coppa Italia last night, but his agent Dario Canvoni said: "Tonight's match could be Thiago's last in the Inter shirt, as the player has given the green light to PSG for the transfer."

Boss Claudio Ranieri said afterwards that he hopes the player will stay, describing him as "an important player", so I'm not getting my hopes up just yet.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Lampard, Tevez, Alex and Motta all sign for PSG. Or not.

If Milan don't sign me I'm gonna open a big magic can of whoop-ass 
Seven days left of the transfer window means seven more days of shit stories about players we won't sign. Like Frank Lampard.

Until January 31, or a signing is made, the name C*rl*s T*v*z is banned from this blog. I'm taking a leaf out of Harry Potter's book and instead referring to him as He Who Must Not Be Named. The Dark Lord has been speaking in the Argentinian media to reiterate his desire to join AC Milan, not PSG: "I see myself only in the red and black shirt, I am hoping for Milan," he said.

One perplexing transfer that does appear to be happening is that of Chelsea's Alex who, according to sources on both sides of the channel, will finalise a €5million move to PSG this week. I quite like Alex, but it seems completely unnecessary to be bringing in another centre half when we have quality players like Sakho, Lugano, and Bisevac, plus Zoumana Camara, who has arguably been our most consistent defender this season.

Le Parisien moots that it's a signing with an eye on 2012/13 and our participation in the Champions League, and it's true that our current crop of defenders lack experience in Europe's premier competition. But I wonder whether the club are preparing to cut their losses on Lugano, who has struggled since his arrival from Fenerbache but would no doubt still have plenty of suitors on this continent and in South America.

Meanwhile Inter midfielder Thiago Motta fancies one last pay-day a move to Paris. Asked about his future at the San Siro, the 29-year-old, who has been linked with a switch to Parc des Princes throughout the transfer window, said: "I spoke with the [Inter] president and the club, we clarified a lot of things, now we have to see.

"Paris is a great city, there's still eight days until the end of the transfer market. Anything can happen."

Anything can indeed happen, though given PSG's record in the transfer market so far, there's no guarantee it will.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Sablé 0-4 PSG: Pastore problem mars Parisien progress

"Merde alors, I'm so fed up of hearing about Carlos bloody Tevez"
"Despite the score, the Sarthe is happy tonight," declared French Prime Minister Francois Fillon (above), after witnessing PSG ease past Sablé-sur-Sarthe 4-0 in the Coupe de France last night.

Good old politicians, they can always be relied on to provide a patronising pat on the head for the little guy when required. Le Mans native Fillon, who started his political career as mayor of Sablé, probably didn't endear himself to the fans of his local club by accepting a PSG shirt from Nasser Al-Khelaifi afterwards. Oh well, at least he'll have scored some browny points with his boss, French president - and noted PSG fan - Nicolas Sarkozy.

This game never looked likely to be a difficult one for PSG from the moment Nene opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the first half. The Brazilian then combined with Menez to provide an easy second for Kevin Gameiro, before playing the pass which allowed Super Kev to run free and slot in the third. Nene rounded off the scoring near the end.

"Our first half wasn't the best and we carried the ball far too much," noted Carlo Ancelotti afterwards. "I wasn't happy at half-time. However, the second half was very good with some excellent counter-attacks."

The only fly in the ointment was an injury to Javier Pastore, who limped off after 27 minutes with a thigh injury. El Flaco is expected to be out for at least three weeks, making him a doubt for the crunch game against Montpellier on February 18. Obviously we will miss a player of Pastore's quality, and it's a shame he's got injured at a time when he seemed to be recovering some semblance of his best form. 

His absence may expedite Leonardo's attempts to bring in new blood. Yesterday he met with Carlos Tevez's agent, Kia Joorabchian for talks about the striker's future. Yawn.

When ambushed by Le Parisien on his way back to England, Joorabchian said: "I can't speak for him. I can only tell you that Carlos is one of the very best players in the world and when we fall into this category, all parameters are taken into account.

"Money matters, of course, but there is everything else. Life, people you work with, the advice of your family, etc.. We must look at everything and wait for AC Milan to put in another bid."

I might've made that last bit up, but it sounds promising doesn't it? Or maybe not. 

PSG have also been linked with Sporting Lisbon right-back João Pereira, who would cost €7million. I know nothing about this player, but @portugoaldotnet had this to say about the 28-year-old:

"Excellent going forward, decent if not brilliant defender. Fiesty temp'mt. Yellow & red cards a-plenty in career."
Sounds fun. We could do with another right-back, so we'll have to wait and see if this rumour has legs.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Kombouare speaks!

PSG are back in Coupe de France action tonight when they go to Le Mans to play Sable-sur-Sarthe. I've been to Le Mans and it's an awful place, so I imagine Carletto and the boys will want to get in and out as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Sable (literal translation: sand) play in CFA2, and are 12th in the table. Parallels with our previous CdF opponents Locmine then, but hopefully this time we'll do a better job of seeing off the amateurs. Ancelotti has already named his team, and gives a welcome start to Clement Chantome, while restoring Kevin Gameiro to the attack. Lugano is injured and Bodmer suspended.

Elsewhere this morning Antonine Kombouare has given his first interview since he was shabbily fired by the PSG before Christmas. Kombouare's behaviour post-takeover, a time when he was being undermined by Leonardo on an almost weekly basis, was very dignified, so it's no surprise that his interview strikes a similar tone.

"I do not feel betrayed," he said. "You are betrayed by family, by a friend. Here we were in a working relationship where I knew from the start what to think. I'm not bitter.

"I knew he [Leonardo] met with coaches, it was part of the way he works. So I knew it could be the end at any time."

AK said things came to a head after the 1-1 draw with Bordeaux in November, when Leo met CA for not-very-discreet-actually chat in Paris.

"With Leonardo, I knew what to expect and how he worked. I said now, if you want to fire me, OK, you lead your life and I will lead mine.We said things and then, for me it was over.

"The only reason I was fired because they hired Ancelotti. He is a titled coach, experienced and is able to attract great players. But I do not feel inferior to him. I think they had nothing against me. From the beginning, things were clear. He had not set a date but at no time did I think I could finish the season.

"I was prepared for him to put someone in my place who had won titles. There is a certain logic in that, and I had prepared myself accordingly.

"I am proud of the journey I went on in my two and a half years at PSG. We moved the club forward." 

AK goes on to say that he feels the experience post-QSI has made him a better coach, and that he hopes to go on to manage another big club in France or abroad. PSGT wishes him all the best and hopes to see him back in football soon, as long as it's not at Marseille.

But he denied he has been offered the vacant Monaco job. Given that they've just been taken over by a super-rich Russian, a move to the principality could be one straight out of the frying pan into a raging fire.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Tevez transfer tittle-tattle

I'm requesting my agent arranges a transfer from here to there

With every passing year the hype surrounding the January transfer window seems to get more and more ridiculous.

Twitter is, in my opinion, partly to blame. Now I love Twitter, in fact I struggle to imagine how I used to get through working days before it existed, but sadly it provides a perfect medium for rumours to turn to FACTS.

Yesterday, for example, one journalist, Ian McGarry, suggested Eden Hazard was on the verge of completing a move from Lille to Chelsea. This soon took Twitter by storm despite the lack of reportage from any reliable source. As of this morning, Hazard has yet to appear at Stamford Bridge, though there are 13 long days of the window left so there's still plenty of time. I already feel drained.

You could find a million other examples of non-stories which have popped up this month, and many of them involve want-away Manchester City star Carlos Tevez. Yesterday AFP reported that City had accepted a bid of €29million, rising to €37million from PSG for Tevez. Cue much excitement until the Citizens arrived with a big jug of cold water to pour on the story:

"It's just not true," a City spokesman said. "Manchester City have not received a bid for Carlos Tevez from Paris Saint Germain."

Given PSG's record when it comes to non-transfers, I know who I believe. But of course this morning a raft of new Tevez stories, all of which feature a distinct lack of direct quotes from anyone, have appeared. Apparently Tevez and his people will be in Paris tomorrow to talk terms. If true, I shudder to think what we're going to offer.

Here's what I predict will happen: This will drag on and on until the end of the window, when Tevez will knock us back. AC Milan will re-appear just before the deadline with an offer they can afford, take advantage of City's desperation to get rid, and the player will end up at the San Siro, the outcome he's wanted all along. I'll wait to be proved wrong.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

How do you solve a problem like Gameiro?

We all have our problems to deal with.

At the moment I’m trying to find a nice way to tell my mum that I’m not a big fan of the shirt she brought me for Christmas, and that I’d really like the receipt so I can take it back and change it for something I’ll actually wear. If you’ve got any tips of how I might do this then let me know.

Carlo Ancelotti has bigger dilemmas to deal, namely what to do with Kevin Gameiro. The 24-year-old has been the top goalscorer in Ligue 1 in each of the last two calendar years, and with nine goals in 17 league games since joining PSG from Lorient in the summer it seems natural he would be one of the manager’s first picks.

But the striker was left on the bench for Saturday’s 3-1 win over Toulouse, with Ancelotti insisting it was because he hadn’t fully recovered from an injury.

“Gameiro is my attacker. He has every opportunity to demonstrate that he can match the ambitions of the club,” he told the Gazetta dello Sport today.

But with a new striker likely to arrive before the end of the window, doubts remain as to whether Gameiro is the kind of player who can play up front on his own in the boss’s favoured “Christmas tree” formation. In the short-term, here are some of the tactical options available to Carletto.

No Gameiro

On Saturday PSG employed Jeremy Menez as the nominal point of the Christmas tree, with Nene and Pastore in support. All three players have quality in abundance, particularly when they have the ball at their feet, and their movement will cause most defences in Ligue 1 problems. The downside is that having three broadly similar (ie tricky attacking midfielders) playing together is that is could lead to a lack of variety in our attacks, while none of the three are known for their physical, battling qualities.

Bring back Gameiro, ditch Menez

While Gameiro doesn’t add much in terms of physical presence (though he does well for a little fella), his pace and penalty box prowess do give the PSG a different dimension. Given that Ancelotti was particularly pleased with the contribution of his South American duo against Toulouse - “Pastore and Nene have quality in spades and play for the team” – the obvious man to go if he is brought back in is Jezza Menezza.

Play Pastore in a deeper role

Throughout the first half of the season Antoine Kombouare struggled to fit the four members of the “magic square” into the team together. The presence of a quartet of very attack-minded players often left the PSG looking unbalanced.

However, I think a solution would be to deploy Pastore as part of the three in the 4-3-2-1. Ancelotti loved a deep-lying playmaker while he was at Meelan, with Andrea Pirlo and Clarence Seedorf often filling the role. Though Pastore is unlikely to do too much tracking back, a deeper position may allow him the time on the ball to feed the front three. His presence in the centre of the park could also cause opposition to adapt their tactics, creating space elsewhere.

Monday, 16 January 2012

PSG 3-1 Toulouse - Ancelotti makes a striking difference

So far so good. Carlo Ancelotti's first league game at the helm of Paris St Germain ended in a 3-1 victory over Toulouse on Saturday night, a result which cements the PSG's position atop Ligue 1.

"We started the match a bit timidly but after Nene's goal and during the second half I think we played well with some good counter-attacks and a good attitude displayed by the players," said a happy Carletto afterwards.

"All of the players worked really hard. We attacked together and defended together and had numerous chances."

The Italian sprung a surprise before kick off, naming a side with no recognised front man. With Kevin Gameiro on the bench ("It was a medical decision, we did not want to take risks," explained Ancelotti) alongside Hoarau, and Erding nowhere to be seen, Jezza Menezza was employed as a "false nine" ahead of Pastore and Nene.

This seemed like a slightly bizarre idea to me, but perhaps that's why CA gets paid €5million a year and I don't. Nene opened the scoring, seeing his shot deflect in after collecting a Milan Bisevac cross. Menez then put Pastore in for the second, before a solo third from Nene confirmed the points. Daniel Brattan's late consolation will have been little, er, consolation for the visiting fans.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this morning's papers are speculating that the future doesn't look bright for either Hoarau or Erding, with the latter once again being linked with Rennes, Lille, Bordeaux and anyone else who'll have him. Erding would be no great loss, but even if we do add another striker to the squad I'd be inclined to keep Hoarau. I guess CA is thinking that with Gameiro, a.n. other, and the Menez option we would have enough different combinations, but two proper strikers doesn't seem enough to me, and it's not like we're need to save money. Hoarau's height gives us a different dimension, particularly as in the first half of the season we've struggled against teams with big, strong, defences.

It's also noticable that our list of targets is dwindling on an almost daily basis. Ancelotti admitted after Saturday's match that he likes Carlos Tevez, but even though the Argentinian's move to Meelan appears to have fallen through I don't think he'll end up in Paris. There's no point getting shot of Hoarau and ending up with someone who's no better, or worse Marouane Chamakh.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Maxwell arrives at PSG as Pato ducks out

Life at PSG these days often feels to me like a Bill Murray film.

No, not Lost in Translation (though I suspect that is relevant to this blog on the occasions when Google Translate lets me down) but Groundhog Day. You probably know the story; Murray plays a weatherman who finds himself living out the same day over and over and over again.

Because ever since QSI took over at the Parc des Princes, the club seems to have made a habit of jumping the gun when it comes to announcing signings. Rafa Benitez was the new coach, but then he wasn't, David Beckham agreed to join several times, but never actually did, and now Alexander Pato has become the latest man not to sign on at the Parc des Princes.

This despite myriad reports yesterday that the deal was all but done, the man known as The Duck issued a statement via the AC Milan website to insist he is staying with the club:

"Milan is my home, I don't want to interrupt my career with the Rossanero after winning my first two trophies," he quacked. "I want to contribute to the writing of Milan's history and the future success of this club."

As has been noted elsewhere, Kaka gave a similar speech before he was flogged to Real Madrid. But in this instance I think it's unlikely Pato will make a volte-face before the end of the January window. PSG are at a difficult stage of the project where they can afford big stars but don't really have anything to offer them except a lot of cash. Perhaps once we qualify for the Champions League (which should happen this year) and Ancelotti has got his feet under the table it will be easier to persuade players like Pato to join.

In the meantime it would be better if all involved with the club learnt to keep their mouths shut rather than rushing off to the media every five minutes, it makes us look like an over-excited group of children. Pato's decision must've come as a bit of a kick in the stones to Leonardo, who earlier on Thursday declared himself "optimistic" that the deal would be completed. The club are now on the hunt for another striker, with the names of Hulk and Leandro Damiao reportedly at the top of Leo's shopping list.

One Brazilian who has arrived is Maxwell, who completed his move from Barcelona yesterday.

"The main motivation to sign here was how much PSG wanted me," the 30-year-old told the club website. "That was very flattering. The club's projects and ambitions for the near future also convinced me to sign for PSG."

Maxwell is set for an immediate debut when PSG face Toulouse at the Parc tomorrow.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Maxwell to get a taste of PSG?

The French are, of course, big drinkers of coffee. What better way to eat your croissant than dunked in a giant, steaming, bowl of java?

So it should be no surprise that the Parc de Princes could soon be a Maxwell House (sorry) with the arrival of Barcelona’s left-back Maxwell Scherrer Cabelino Andrade, aka Maxwell.

The fee involved in securing the services of the former Ajax and Inter Milan player, who has turned out 12 times for Barca this season, is unknown, but apparently the transfer could be completed today. Watch this space.

Elsewhere Diego Maradona has taken the title Mr Pot (not the first time Maradona and Pot have been mentioned in the same sentence I’d warrant) and found a kettle to call black.

The kettle in question is PSG sporting director Leonardo, who was the target of this rather amusing rant:

“I don't understand Leonardo,” said El Diego. “I did not understand him when he moved to Inter Milan from AC Milan, and I understand even less what he does today with PSG.

“I wonder if he is a player, coach, agent or oil dealer. I do not understand. This is proof that in football knowing how to lobby pays.”

This is Diego Maradona, manager of United Arab Emirates side Al Wasl, who pay him a reported €3.5million a year. But presumably he’s just there for the "project".

“He's right. Personally, I don't understand,” an enigmatic-sounding Leo said in response. “But I'm happy that the second or third best player of all time behind Pele and Messi is speaking about me and about PSG. It's great.”

Telling Maradona he’s not as good Pele is like red rag to a very stupid bull. This feud could have legs…

Monday, 9 January 2012

Lugano saves Ancelotti from fiery end

"For a long time Carlo Ancelotti's baptism of fire looked like a journey into hell" notes today's Parisien.

But just as the Italian was contemplating a fiery end, up popped the most unlikely of heroes, defender Diego Lugano, to rescue his team - and new boss - from Coupe de France humiliation.

The PSG were heading for a 1-1 draw with CFA2 minnows Locminé, with Abou Maiga's penalty having cancelled out Javier Pastore's opener. But in stoppage-time Lugano found space in the box to head home Nene's inviting cross.

So PSG were able to celebrate a famous glorious memorable win over a side a mere 160 places below them in the French pyramid (thanks to French Football Weekly for that stat), we're definitely going places.

"I'm not happy because we have to play better," said Ancelotti afterwards, showing that, whatever the language, football managers are adept at stating the bleeding obvious. "But I am happy because we won. When you win it gives you more confidence moving forward."

The manager added that he was disappointed with the amount of chances his team spurned, and that they need Kevin Gameiro back as soon as possible. The former Lorient striker missed the game with a knee injury.

"I was upset because Pastore had the opportunity to score the second goal. It's the same with Nene. I said at the end when it is possible to score, it should be done," said the Italian.

"Gameiro was very good in the first half of the season, he scored many good goals. We want him to recover quickly, Menez also."

Amen to that. PSG have drawn another CFA2 team, Sable-sur-Sarthe, in the last 16.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

An Englishman in Paris

Mmm, cheese

I’m not sure whether I’ve mentioned on here before that my lovely wife is a Parisien, and though we’ve never lived in France together, I’ve definitely picked up a few Gallic habits.

For instance, on New Year’s Eve we had some people round to see in 2012. It was all very civilised until after dinner, when they declared that they wanted dessert before cheese. Normal as it is Britain to do things that way round, it seemed completely alien to me. Cheese should be straight after the main course, preferably accompanied by a bit of left-over baguette, not when you’ve already gorged yourself on
ice-cream and chocolate. Honestly, some people.

Paul Clement is going to encounter a host of these cultural idiosyncrasies first hand, having left Blackburn Rovers to join Carlo Ancelotti’s coaching team at Paris St Germain. “Clement will become Ancelotti’s right-arm” announced Le Parisien yesterday, a sentence which conjures up the kind of images you might normally expect to find inside the head of Human Centipede director Tom Six.

A less literal translation would of course be right-hand man, and Clement, who worked under Ancelotti at Chelsea before being given the heave-ho when Andre Villas Boas took over in the summer, completes a cosmopolitan coaching team involving two Italians, an Englishman, and token Frenchman Claude Makalele. Given that Makalele lacks any kind of coaching experience, one suspects his role will not extend far beyond
putting the cones out and looking good for the media, but I guess the dynamics of the set-up will become clearer in the coming weeks.

The new boss has already been busy giving all his players GPS devices to track their performance in training. Presumably they are allowed to take them off at the end of each session, otherwise we could soon be
getting some worrying insights into the squad’s extra-curricular activities.

Ancelotti’s first competitive match in charge is a Coupe de France tie tomorrow against CFA2 side Saint-Colomban Locmine. Predictably I know nothing about them but I assume that, as with the FA Cup in England, their team will be made up of boulangers, plombiers, and at least one facteur. Let’s hope there’s a distinct absence of magie de la coupe come 4.30pm tomorrow.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

PSG beaten by AC Milan as Ancelotti makes eyes at Pato

As auditions go, Alexander Pato's wasn't too bad.

The Brazilian striker back-heeled the only the goal of the game as his current club, AC Milan, beat PSG 1-0 in a friendly in Qatar yesterday.

Pato, apparently now the PSG's number one target this transfer window, back-heeled into the net in the first half to settle Carlo Ancelotti's first match in the Red and Blue dug-out.

Despite the defeat, there was plenty for Ancelotti to be optimistic about, as his new charges created plenty of goal-scoring opportunities, with Nene to the fore.

Carlo spoke to the official club website afterwards, prepare yourself for the blandest set of quotes in the history of journalism:

"We played well. I'm very happy because we played some great football out there and that's very positive.

"We were up against a great AC Milan side. It was very exciting to be up against my former club and a special moment to begin my PSG career against Milan. We performed well, so I'm happy, despite the loss."


The Italian coach was cagey on his transfer targets, telling L'Equipe after the match: "I do not want to talk about individual cases such as Pato and Kaka, who are under contract. We will work to buy some players. But to recruit, it is necessary that the clubs are sellers."

Apparently talks are continuing with the striker's people, but any deal is dependent of Milan securing the signature of Carlos Tevez. And if PSG want to sign Pato this transfer window they'll probably have to cough up €50million, as Meelan aren't keen to sell. It remains to be seen whether the club's pursuit of the 22-year-old will continue now, or whether they'll wait until the summer in a bid to capture him at a lower price.

Other names linked with the PSG this morning include Barcelona left-back Maxwell, someone who I wouldn't especially welcome at the Parc but hey, anyone would be better than Siaka Tiene.

Also on the club's radar, though whether we're on his is a different matter, is Borussia Dortmund starlet Mario Goetze. This story seems likely to be complete nonsense given that a) he's bound to get better offers, and b) the Dortmund's sporting director Michael Zorc said yesterday that he'll be remaining in Germany for another season, but you never know I suppose.

Meanwhile Lyon are on the trail of Sylvain Armand, having sounded out the 31-year-old as a potential replacement for Aly Cissoko.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Moving on from the Beckhams

Artists impression of PSG fans reacting to the Beckham news
So, as expected, the Beckham move to PSG isn't happening, boohoo. Reports that the club have set up a helpline to help depressed fans cope with the news, similar to the one that opened when Take That split up, have yet to be confirmed

"We're a little disappointed, of course, that he's not coming," said PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi. "But we agree that it is better for everyone."

Better for everyone? Why did you try to sign him in the first place then Nas? The club aren't this set-back get them down, and have launched a double €61million bid for Milan's Alexander Pato and Real Madrid's Kaka.

Both players are well-known to Ancelotti from his time in Italy, and would undoubtedly be great additions to the squad. Pato fits the profile of player that, in my opinion, we should be looking to bring in; he has great experience for a 22-year-old, and if he can be persuaded to make the move he could be a cornerstone of the team for years to come.

At 29 Kaka is a different kettle of fish, and though his form has been patchy in recent seasons, it's likely he'd find life in Ligue 1 slightly easier than he has in La Liga. And having a big-name playmaker to shoulder some of the creative burden currently carried solely by Pastore can only be a good thing. The only slight snag is that Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has repeatedly said he doesn't want to sell Kaka, while Pato recently declared that he wanted to stay with the Rossinari. Watch this space on those two I guess.

My only concern would be that in this rush to add more attacking talent to the roster, we seem to have again forgotten about the players we actually need, ie some competent full-backs. Talk of a move for Palermo's Federico Balzaretti seems to have died down in recent weeks, and I hope the club have other targets in mind.

Also in the news, PSG were said to be one of a number of "European big-guns" (liberal use of the term big-guns) tracking Manchester United's Ravel Morrison, who is out of contract at the end of the season. Morrison is highly-rated at Old Trafford, but my sources on Twitter tell me that off the pitch he's had a bit of trouble with the law. Perhaps if he does come to Paris the club can rent him an apartment in Sarcelle or St Denis so he feels at home.

Today the PSG will face Ancelotti's old club, AC Milan, in a friendly match out in Doha. With Gameiro, Menez, Matuidi and Chantome on the injured list, Guillaume Hoarau is likely to be the focal point of the manager's favoured "Christmas tree" formation, with Pastore and Nene in support, ahead of a possible midfield three of Jallet, Bodmer, and Sissoko. It's difficult to draw too many conclusions from friendlies of course, but it will be interesting to see who Carlo selects at the back, given the number of different combinations employed in the first half of the season.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

What a way to make a living

With all the festive Bank Holidays over, today is the day when many people across the United Kingdom, myself included, return to their dingy offices to contemplate the depressing winter months ahead.

The PSG squad are back at work too, though I have little sympathy for them as they are in the slightly warmer surrounds of Qatar, doing some winter training ahead of their friendly against AC Milan tomorrow. Must be a hard life being a professional footballer, but I'm sure they'll be thinking of me and others doing battle with the elements this morning. Or not.

Anyway, Carlo Ancelotti oversaw his first training session yesterday after the squad arrived in Doha. "Cap on head and whistle in mouth, the Italian had the air of Guy Roux [about him]," notes the Parisien. Facially I can see a slight resemblance (sorry Carlo!) though if the Italian lasts 44 years at the helm of PSG, as Roux did at Auxerre, I'll eat my hat and any other item of clothing you like.

Menez, Matuidi, and Chantome all sat out training, and one man who definitely wasn't there was DBeck, who despite rumours to the contrary isn't in Doha, and now seems unlikely to become a PSG player.

"It is very likely that David Beckham will remain in the United States and extend his contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy," claims today's L'Equipe, which adds that a prolonged stay in LA would suit Mrs Beckham and the kids.

"He always said that the welfare of his family is his priority when deciding his future at the end of his contract. And let's face it: his wife, his children and himself love living in Los Angeles "

Oh well, never mind. But if he doesn't come, perhaps it will teach the club not to try and do their business in public in future. The raft stories about deals being "nearly done" must've come from somewhere, and it's unlikely that the Beckham camp were impressed by these constant attempts to force the player's hand.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Grants For Single Moms