Ah to be in Paris, a baguette in hand, reading the paper in an outdoor café on a cold winter afternoon, you begin to sip your coffee, flip the page, and glance a bit around the plaza. Amongst the hustle and bustle of a quiet Parisian afternoon, a storming stampede of angry PSG supporters comes rushing by the café lamenting another loss by the Parc des Princes outfit, the anger of the supporters, the public display of discontent. Ah, to be in Paris.
Paris Saint Germain, which has epitomised the mindset of a fallen giant since their descent from the Ligue 1 summit in the late 90’s, only obtaining four trophies since the turn of the century (French League Cup-2008 & Coupe de France 2004, 2006, 2010). The fortunes of Les Rouge-et-Bleu appeared to have change with the rapid changes that have taken place since the May 31st purchase of the club by the Qatar Investment Authority.
Although the Parisian outfit has had its fair share of high profile owners, including Canal+ and a consortium led by Morgan Stanley and Colony Capital, the purchase of the club by Qatar’s “sovereign wealth fund” (self-described of course) has led to increased optimism and a positive look forward to the results of this season. Having only finished in 4th place, and only 4 points beyond an Olympique Lyon squad that looks almost surely to be out of serious contention this season, PSG are beginning to wet the lips at chance for the Ligue 1 title.
I want to win the league and the cup, I would like the team to win everything
– Javier Pastore
With Les Rouge-et-Bleu having recently signed burgeoning talent Kevin Gameiro, the enigmatic Jeremy Menez, holding midfielder Mohamed Sissoko, and the Argentinean Ace Javier Pastore, the club has made a statement of intent for both European football and Ligue 1 competitors to stop and take notice. With Director of Football and former Inter Milan manager, Leonardo at the helm, it appears the squad is looking to build a core squad around 21-year-old captain Mamadou Sakho. With already 102 senior caps to his name for Paris Saint Germain, he appears to perform both above his age and maturity, and looks to have been rewarded with the captaincy for his decision to stay at PSG and rebuff a move to Arsenal.
Heavy investment typically arrives alongside a weight of expectation that may either make or break PSG. Manager Antoine Kombare was able to bring the club into a respectable 4th place finish, following a terrible season finishing 13th in the 2009 to 2010 campaign. This term, Kombare will have a lot to prove, predominantly that he can handle bigger personalities in the changing room and achieve consistent results even when the squad is off form. With Antoine Kombare hoping to draw no comparisons between his career and that of Mark Hughes, another casualty of an oil-rich investment, he will need to prove that he is not just a placeholder, but the soul of the revival PSG.
It has become increasingly fashionable to critique the millions invested by the Middle Eastern nouveau rich, and I will make no attempt to either identify with or defend it, but to a PSG supporter that has not seen this club achieve any significant success since the mid 90’s, there is no cost. As Ligue 1 has become increasingly more entertaining due to the breakup of Olympique Lyon’s stranglehold on the table, Lille, Bordeaux, Marseille, and now PSG have joined the fray and look set to make this the most interesting title race for quite some time.
So maybe this time next season Paris Saint Germain will be planning their first parade down the Champs-Élysées in 17 years, and maybe you can enjoy your coffee and paper in an outdoor café with the soundtrack of the city uninterrupted. Ah to be in Paris.