Paris Saint-Germain at the crossroads with Thomas Tuchel
Background image: Zakary Faibis, CC BY-SA 4.0
Winning the domestic double (or treble if you add the Coupe de la Ligue) has become synonymous with Paris Saint-Germain for several seasons now. Each of Laurent Blanc and Unai Emery kept what is fast becoming a tradition for the French giants as a show of their dominance of French football. Manager Thomas Tuchel was brought in to take the club a step further by extending that dominance to the European scene. Unfortunately, the German tactician has not been able to advance the course.
Just like his predecessors, he fell again at the quarter-final stage of the Champions League. But the manner of the 3-1 loss to an unsettled Manchester United in front of the cheering crowd at the Parc des Princes was as surprising if not more than on previous occasions. Having bowed out of continental football, rounding off the league title and Coupe de France wins was expected to be a foregone conclusion. Instead, it’s been a struggle.
Two losses and a draw in the last four league games meant title celebrations were delayed until after the home game against Monaco. That's seven points dropped at a crucial time in the campaign. Although the team could afford to lose even more games and still be crowned champions, any competition like the type ongoing in the Premier League or the Bundesliga will mean another capitulation. Speaking of which is exactly what happened in the Coupe de France...
In a final, that was expected to be one-sided (with all due respect to Rennes) everything was going according to plan. Paris Saint-Germain raced to a two-goal lead with strikes coming from Dani Alves and Neymar in the first 21 minutes of the game.
🏆 Ligue 1
✖️ Coupe de France
✖️ Coupe de la Ligue
✖️ Champions League
Thomas Tuchel's first season in charge fails to live up to expectations. https://t.co/xLWkOJqi8B
Then the wheels came off once again. Yes, the meltdown started with an own goal from Presnel Kimpembe shortly before the halftime break. Rennes then equalised in the 66th minute to set up a tense finish. As is now becoming usual with the Paris-based side, the team could not handle the ensuing pressure. Kylian Mbappe got sent off towards the end of normal time after an unnecessary bad tackle. The two sides had to be separated through penalty shoot-out, with the capital city club losing 6-5.
That leaves the former Borussia Dortmund gaffer with just the league title to celebrate. Unfortunately for the serial Ligue 1 champions, this does not signify progress. Winning just the league title is not enough for Paris Saint-Germain faithful. In fact, Tuchel was brought in to do more. That leaves the club at the crossroads with regard to the way forward. Should the club hierarchy keep faith with the German trainer despite what seems like taking a step backwards from their success of recent years? Or do they cut their losses and move on?
Apparently, chopping and changing have not worked. Despite the presence of top quality in every position on the pitch and especially the addition of Neymar and Mbappe to the roster, the results have been the same. What the team needs are stability and patience. Sacking another manager would only disrupt that process unless they are going for one that will be kept for a relatively long period of time. A certain Jose Mourinho is still available in the market. His record in Europe suggests the Portuguese could be the solution to the long-standing problem at the Parc des Princes.