The two-year extension of Laurent Blanc’s contract as manager of Paris Saint-Germain was announced last Thursday via the club’s official website. The vote of confidence in Blanc from management came to the surprise of many as it was believed the club would wait to see how far the team went in the UEFA Champions League this season—the final hurdle in the PSG project.
The move to resign Blanc before his previous contract expired is a step in the right direction for the club especially in terms of stability—a word not often used at the Parc des Princes since the Qatar Sports Investments takeover.
Over the past few seasons, Blanc has proven to be the right manager for PSG since his appointment in 2013 and despite all the criticisms levied against his philosophy, he has done brilliantly at the club. Per PSG.fr:
In his 152 official matches in all competitions in charge Paris Saint-Germain, Blanc has collected 112 wins, 27 draws and just 13 defeats.
Already the most decorated manager in club history—winning a total of eight domestic trophies since his appointment—there’s no questioning Le Président‘s impact on this PSG side. Many will say all this was to be expected considering the perceived quality of the French league and the near unlimited resources of Paris Saint-Germain, but you have to credit the manager for the unprecedented level of domination especially considering the pressure levied upon him from management.
Blanc’s best attribute and the key to his success thus far is his man-management skills. His ability to lead superstar players coupled with the weight of building an elite European club, is impressive to say the least. In a team like PSG, with veteran, outspoken players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, and Thiago Motta, who were in the team before his arrival also leaders in their own right, Blanc has managed to keep them happy and you rarely hear any dissent from the locker room. Keeping world class talent focused and prepared to work, especially in a league often seen as inferior, is no easy task but Blanc has done well to keep the players motivated no matter the competition.
An often overlooked aspect of Blanc’s managerial prowess is his ability to give youngsters like Marquinhos and Adrien Rabiot minutes with the starting XI. His rejuvenation of Javier Pastore also has to be commended.
Much has been made about Blanc’s reluctance to bench certain players as the club looks to build its brand, however, he has been able maneuver around those criticisms to churn out positive results. It is this ability to work under such constraints at the capital club that has endeared him to the PSG board.
While sometimes referred to as boring, Blanc’s possession based, compact style of play, has guided PSG to the precipice of European football. Sure, it would be nice to see more attacking tactics and the lack of youth players coming through the squad is a concern but he’s getting results and you can’t argue with that. If the extension motivates Blanc to at least reach the semi-finals of the Champions League this year it will be money well spent.