Friday, January 20, 2012

PSG: Why'd They Fire This Guy?

Why me?
As a supporter of the enticingly put together Paris Saint-Germain squad, I could not be happier to see experienced tactician Carlo Ancelotti at the helm. He has big club experience, a winning mentality, and a silverware cabinet any club coach would dream of. But I do wonder why exactly Antoine Kombouaré was dismissed. The reasoning for his dismissal is not really logical in traditional terms of output.

Common thought indicates he was sent home because the hot-seat got too hot for him. There were numerous reports of his possible dismissal throughout the beginning of this season, which mounted pressure until the end of the year. But how is this hot-seat different from any other in a major European League? Pressure is always there. You win, you stay. You lose, you go. This mantra did not exactly hold true in Paris for ol' Antoine, as PSG Director Leonardo ultimately sacked him.

Ironically, Kombouaré had PSG in first place at the holiday break and poised to make a serious title run in 2012. Moreover, last year's squad, without superstar reinforcements signed with Qatari money over the summer, were a mere four points from Champions League football. Pair these facts with likely additions on the way this January and one might have imagined the team would ride the Kombouaré bus until at least summer. The only detriment toward the above successes is PSG's failure in the Europa League. Though knocked out of said competition, Kombouaré still had the team on track to reach their season goals: a league title + Champions League Qualification. asserts the former PSG man's firing might have something to do with race. Though I think this argument misses the mark, it is troubling to think Kombouaré was "the only black coach left in the top flight of any of Europe's top leagues." That fact alone warrants thought about why there are not more black men in top coaching roles, but in this case, there were a few other factors at play that sealed the Kombouaré's fate.

A more likely reason for Kombouaré's dismissal is simply the situation he found himself in. Regardless of his successful season, Qatari money flowing into PSG at breakneck speed equates to big names and headlines. Granted, I don't think they will build the squad in "Manchester City fashion," but I do believe a relatively unsuccessful team will be made into a winner. Could Kombouaré keep control of big name signings with big egos and the responsibility of having to at the very least win the French League every year? As a relatively inexperienced coach, probably not. Thus, the feeling of big money owners at this junction is usually the desire to have a renowned gaffer who can win everything.

Smiles all around. Except for Antoine Whatshisname.

Enter a renowned gaffer. Carlo Ancelotti's (a) accessibility and (b) amicable relationship with Leonardo while at Milan, essentially forced Kombouaré's sacking. How could PSG pass up the chance to land Ancelotti? Even if Kombouaré had a stellar year and won Ligue 1, he most likely lacks the pedigree to win a Champions League at this point in his managerial career. Ancelotti on the other hand, has the prestige and experience to win the big one. Leonardo would have been kicking himself had Ancelotti agreed to join another big club in the summer, when the opportunity to snap him up in January had arisen. Therefore, right or wrong, this change was inevitable.

Though I'm glad to see such a successful manager lead a team I support, I still believe Kombouaré was dismissed unreasonably. He did mostly everything right with a powerful team at his disposal and acted honorably throughout. The unlucky former coach just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Regardless, I still can't help but question brazen business actions that occur when money is in abundance. Sometimes it's downright dirty. I hope to see Antoine Kombouaré on another sideline thriving very soon!

Photo Credits:
Sky Sports

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