PSG and the Search for Balance On and Off the Pitch

Paris Saint-Germain’s 4-1 defeat at St James’ Park against Newcastle is seen as the club’s first real test with regards to how committed the hierarchy are to sticking to a new ethos of patience.

Previously, this type of result would have seen a sweeping inquest take place at the Parc des Princes with no individual safe from being made a scapegoat. Now, there is an unusual sense of calm in Paris following the rout in the North East of England.

In addition to the tranquility in the boardroom, there is also very little unrest among fans who have backed club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi’s vision of organic growth in favor of PSG’s past obsession with instant success.

Instead, all parties are choosing to focus on the bigger picture, but will this new patient approach allow a culture of mediocrity to breed in the club?

The benefits of putting defects into perspective

When looking back on any defeat, context is always crucial in order to arrive at an overall judgment free of emotion. In the reverse to Newcastle on Tyneside, it pays to remember that Eddie Howe’s men knocked Manchester City out of the Carabao Cup only a week before.

While this was a cup fixture, keep in mind that the latest Premier League odds price Pep Guardiola’s formidable City at just 1/2 to win their fourth title in a row.

The wider point is that if Newcastle can beat the best team in England at home only a few days prior, then they were certainly capable of doing the same to PSG.

Essentially, the revealing context around the manner of defeat to Newcastle made the scenes at St James’ Park slightly more digestible and helped steer the narrative away from there being a crisis at PSG.

Of course, this doesn’t altogether mean that mistakes weren’t made on the night, which touches on how PSG’s new lenient approach could erode the elite mindset that has been cultivated at the club since 2011 when Qatar Sports Investments became the majority shareholder.

Everything in moderation, including moderation

The only problem with an overly moderate way of thinking in PSG’s case is that it is being especially done to counter a history of instant gratification that led to consistent failure in the Champions League. In other words, the danger is that genuine shortcomings and managerial ineptitude are not scrutinized enough for fear of repeating the past.

Going back to events at St James’ Park, starting with four attackers was undoubtedly naive on Luis Enrique’s part and opened the door to PSG being overrun in midfield. When the Spaniard did act to combat Eddie Howe’s marauding midfield, he took off a midfielder and not an attacker. Put plainly, it was a tactical mistake and should be acknowledged as one.

Should Enrique lose his job for it? Certainly not, but there are expectations of a manager in one of the most coveted jobs in European football; there cannot be an indefinite amount of grace afforded simply because the club have been too hasty to act in the past.

Yes, PSG’s new way of operating the club is admirable, but it must not come at the expense of progress.

Tags Champions League Luis Enrique Newcastle United
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